Eraserhead: An Unerving Picture That Defined a Genre

A Tad Introduction

David Lynch’s directorial feature length debut: Eraserhead which took 5 years to make is genuinely one of the most surreal and weirdest cinematic experiences of all time.

Photo by Catherine Coulson, courtesy of David Lynch.

An acquired taste?

Yes; but the 1.85 : 1 dimension in which Eraserhead exists, is without a doubt, the ‘trippiest’, most obscure pieces of cinema I have ever experienced. The film revolves around a Father in a desolate industrial dystopia who must look after his premature, abnormal child.

Tho that is, visually however, Eraserhead is miraculous. The black and white grainy filter creates a contagiously unnerving atmosphere which is reminiscent of original monster pictures from the 20s/30s/ and 40s. It may hide behind a horror mask, but deep down, this is a beautifully executed allegory for the struggles of being a Father who is not ready to be one.

We see how a male deals in this situation which is something that has been shadowed in today’s society by other things but is addressed forthright, in this 1977 Lynchian nightmare. The whole project is an ongoing dilemma that seems to have no equilibrium just like the mindset of our twisted protagonist: Henry. A printer whose performance is precise, almost like Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean (in terms of physicality).

The Nightmare behind the Picture

It is about 11 minutes before any dialogue is uttered; there is a clear inspiration of silent cinema fuelling the picture which is by no means a parody or negative dragging it down. I personally think that it works in the style and stories favour. Despite having to fit in with many other projects with the grainy, industrial horror aesthetic, David Lynch submitted an entry into the body horror genre that was disturbingly sublime, laying the ground work for arthouse, experimental works of surrealism that we see today.

The Beauty of Eraserhead

If Lynch wasn’t also a painter, Eraserhead either would not exist or would be rather boring; you can sense that the person who helmed the project has an artistic sensibility that was in the field of stationary images since there are numerous frames so iconic and gorgeous, they could be framed in an art gallery, the very definition of what an arthouse picture is.

Furthermore, the way in which we perceive abstract stationary artwork is identical to the way we consume Eraserhead; with our thumb and index fingers wrapped around our chin, squint faced and nodding in appreciation despite not having a clue of what is occurring on screen.

Eraserhead is absolutely grotesque but there are moments of humour as seen in his other works but most notably Twin Peaks. The crazy in-laws give fantastic performances in a sequence that is hilariously sickening. Henry (Jack Nance) uses physicality unlike anything I have seen in the genre – sure he is odd but it is just so Lynchian, his posture, dialect and bizarreness is captured superbly. Inspiring body horror flicks still to this day;

To Conclude

Eraserhead is a beacon, a pinnacle of surrealist cinema, proving that just because a project is abstract, not contemporary and doesn’t fit into any particular genre or story structure and yet it remains a piece of Art and is hugely important to the Cinematic World, I’d highly recommend watching this.

Harley Gives This:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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