A cult-classic from 1977, Eraserhead is the first film by David Lynch.
Set in what appears to be a dystopian, almost steam-driven alternative-future 1950’s period it is a black and white film initially very full of surreal otherworldly imagery and with a very slow pace. From the start there is a very imposing soundtrack of groans, hisses and general noise, setting the uncomfortable mood. It’s a film that follows the life of a metaphorically castrated agoraphobe doing not a lot in an empty cityscape.
The director is obviously playing with irritation and uncomfortability by drawing the shots out and piling on the noise, but for me it came across as dull and annoying. I didn’t find it funny or interesting at all, just a man in a small bedsit room with some odd things happening and a constant dirge of noise. The best comparison I can make is that it is like watching a vacuum cleaner slowly moving across the room towards you but taking an hour and a half to do so. It could form a great 5 minute art installation and it was perhaps a necessary developmental step for the director, but not one anyone else needs to be subjected to.
Everyone else I’ve spoken to seems fascinated by trivia like what David Lynch made the props and costumes from “Oooh, how mysterious, no-one will ever understand it, and what did he make the baby from? HOW DID HE MAKE IT?? We’ll never know”. What relevance does that have to the film? Why do I care what material the props are made from?
I was a film where I was very close to walking out of the cinema, but I suppose the best I could say is that it’s a polarising film. And it’s a very nice word to type!
As a footnote, it’s an 18 certificate which seems a bit strange for a film with no real nudity or swearing that I can remember, but admittedly adult themes.
1 on 5
Director: David Lynch
Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts
UK Release: 1977