Thursday, 16 December 2010

Eraserhead 1976 Directed by David Lynch

The theme throughout the film is dark and surrealism because of how the plot plays on the nightmares and fears people have on relationships and families but Lynch has taken those fears further to create a twisted world that slowly loses all sense of reality. Lynch made the decision of blocking out human dialogue at the start of the film so that the noise of the machinery and the man pulling the levers is the main focus, it is confusing of the purpose of this man at first but could be a symbol of the man pulling the strings controlling the world and people round him. The unnerving soundtrack was effective throughout because it helped to express the tension of some of the most disturbing scenes. It defined those chilling and piercing moments of the dream sequences where the visuals didn't have a clear meaning but seem to fit the idea of Henry Spencer' s delusions morphing into the unknown. "Jack Nance's electro-shock hairdo Henry, whose girl produces the aforementioned baby, now seems funnier in his perpetual puzzlement than he did. But the film retains its essential menace, like a dream you can't leave even if you want to." (Malcolm, 2010), the evidence shows that even though the theme is repulsive and dramatic, the audience can not turn away from it because the film is unlike anything they have experienced or seen.

Figure 1, (2009), eraserhead still of baby head on Henry's body delusion

The meeting of Henry's parents indicates a biazaire scenerio of that akwardness and the uncertainity of meeting new people. The parents and girlfriend seem to suffer from their own delusions as shown in the dinner scene with the mother behaving strangely, making werid noises at the cooked chicken appears to be moving it's legs and the scene where mary rocks the bed back and forth while giving Henry a deathly stare. Lynch also incoporates Polkanski's idea of the creepy neighbours in the form of the wife next door wanting to come in and have sex with him but becomes unhinged at the sight of the premature baby, representing the fears of what tie people down and how a relationship becomes complicated. The next scene where they see eachother, the neighbour envisions the mental scene of the baby's head on henry's body as if she has become disgusted and no longer want's anything to with him. "Father Bill roasts oddly alive minature chickens and with frozen smile exhibits his frozen arm, and cataonic Grandmother smokes while Mother helps her mix the salad and, vampire-kissing him, informs the bashful suitor that mary is prgnant, so they must marry. The non sequiturs and long dining room silences..." (Levitt, 2010), the evidence is worded as if the behaviour of the other characters are seen through the delusions and fears of commitment in a relationship and the responsibilities of Henry's actions towards Mary.

Figure 2, (2010), Eraserhead still of dinner scene

The premature baby was the source of the surreal uncanny because the viewers are told and know that it is a baby, which is clear in it's size and shape but it's appearance is alien and so far removed from what people recognise. There is alot of human essence within the creature through it's use of crys and annoying sounds identifies it immediately as young, vulnerable and utterly dependant on it's parents, so even though Henry Spencer and Mary may be repulsed and disgusted with the creature it's still technically their child and the film demonstrates the pressures of raising it and the stress that can build up in this situation. "In this world, the baby, resembling an overgrown penis, both represents male sexuality and symbolises Henry's own sexuality. Similiar to uncontrollable sexual urges, the baby penis constantly demands attention from Henry who becomes it's slave." (Caldwell,2010), in the quote, Caldwell links the desires and fears of male sexuality which loosely leads into incest and the idea that the child constantly calls for love and attention and the idea of Henry becoming it's slave depicts that love as pocessive. The nighmare of henry's head dropping off and the baby's replacing it also entered the realm of the uncanny and the visions of what appears to be real can suddenly twist and transform into a realm of fantasy played on by the fear.

Figure 3, (2010), Eraserhead still of premature baby

Figure 4, (2009), Eraserhead still of baby dying

The lighting was used to visually express moments that higlight objects or people that haven't quite taken form or happened, this was to allow the audience where next focus would be staged. The bedroom scene also seemed to be purposely dark so that intense spotlight could reveal the baby's position and movements, identifing that it always there as a real being and can not be escaped from in the character's and audience's perspective. The scene towards the end of the film where Henry finally builds the courage to kill the baby triggers a final vision of a huge premature head approaching closer with the aid of flashing lights indicting that it is heading towards henry. This vision could be seen as guilt from the terrible act he has just commited or recurring the nightmare of it's head taking his place suggest that by killing the baby he has allowed his fears and nightmares to accelerate and control him. The end of the film sees Henry on about appears to be a different world/ plain meeting with the mad people of his delusions, whether this means he has found an escape or accepting his tormented fate is unclear because it is suddenly cut off as Lynch decided that he didn't want his viewers discovering what was really happening in the final scene.

 Figure 5, (2010), Eraserhead still of woman delusion

Figure 6, (2010), Eraserhead still of set


Figure 1, (2009), Eraserhead still of baby head on henry's body delusion, @, Accessed on: 2nd June 2009

Figure 2, (2010), Eraserhead still of dinner scene, @, Accessed on: 2010

Figure 3, (2010), Eraserhead still of premature baby, @, Accessed on: 21st May 2002

Figure 4, (2009), Eraserhead still of baby dying, @, Accessed on : 9th April 2009

Figure 5, (2010), Eraserhead still of woman delusion, @, Accessed on: 2010

Figure 6, (2010), Eraserhead still of set, @, Accessed on: 2008


Caldwell Thomas, (2010), Senses of Cinema Issue 56 The Evil that Men do - David Lynch, @, Accessed on: 21st May 2002

levitt Donald, (2010), Reel Talk Movie reviews - The Head Horror Picture Show, @, Accessed on: 8th Jan 2007

Malcolm Derek, (2010), this is London  - Eraserhead still stands out, @, Accessed on: 11th Setember 2008

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