Let’s face it, if you love Lynch, chances are you’ve seen his film debut, Eraserhead (1977). And regardless, you’ve never seen Eraserhead like Nitehawk is showing it this week at midnight with a live score by Morricone Youth.
It’s a bizarre, surreal adventure into the mind of (what Lynch might consider) the everyman. Reactions to the film vary wildly so rather than just offer you our humble opinion, Hatched instead offers up a montage of Eraserhead analysis; a fragmented, non-linear tale befitting both director and film.
Back-story, architecture, sound, and the Star Wars connection on Radiator Heaven
Every aspect of Eraserhead was constructed with painstaking care and detail by Lynch and his crew. This not only included building all of the film’s sets but the complex soundtrack as well. The film’s sounds came courtesy of Lynch and his sound editor Alan R. Splet who had cut his teeth at a small production company mixing sound on industrial films. This would provide the ideal background for Eraserhead’s urban soundscape. Splet had been recommended by a friend of Lynch’s who had done the sound on the filmmaker’s first student short film, The Alphabet. The two men subsequently collaborated on Lynch’s next short entitled The Grandmother. The experience proved to be so enjoyable that Splet joined Lynch on creating Eraserhead’s soundtrack.
Defining Auteur on the British Film Source
Michel Chion, in “David Lynch”, says “In the beginning, there was not an author, just a film: Eraserhead”. Eraserhead is very useful in the context of this study as it can be seen as a definitive text in regards to Lynch’s stylistics and thematic pre-occupations. The film’s story is very simple (the script was only 20 pages long) but the use of stylistic symbolism is very detailed and complex. Being so simple in structure and defying any categorisation of genre, it can be used as a control sample in our examination of Lynch’s other films.
The surrealism connection on Senses of Cinema (must read)
Although Lynch has commented that “it would be virtually impossible to deliver [Eraserhead] to an audience” nowadays because “all the truly experimental work is taking place on video in art galleries” (6), the film has nonetheless remained relevant owing to its influential and innovative treatment of familiar subjects, brought together in an absurd and surreal amalgamation that challenges viewers’ expectations and sensibilities regarding narrative and visual form. An important example of innovative and daring filmmaking, Eraserhead remains brilliant to some, indecipherable to others, and always, it seems, provocative.
And lastly, just for kicks, we wouldn’t want anyone to miss this kind of brilliant claymation 60 second version of Eraserhead: