Eraserhead Movie Review
I recently watched David Lynch’s surrealistic nightmare film Eraserhead for the first time. I just wish I hadn’t watched it while I was eating, as the scenes with the sick monster baby are utterly repulsive. ( I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.) I actually lost my appetite, which has never happened to me before while watching a movie. I typically have a strong stomach, so it’s to the movie’s credit that it affected me so strongly.
I was shocked to find out the movie is as old as it is. It was made in 1977, which is the same year Star Wars came out (for those of you keeping score). I knew that Lynch has had a long career, but I didn’t know he started in the seventies.
Eraserhead is very well made, and it’s overwhelmingly a critical darling. However, I’m still trying to figure out if I enjoyed it. David Lynch is a very polarizing director. People typically either love his movies or hate them. I, being typically atypical, fall somewhere in between. Lynch’s artistic style is very unique and identifiable, and I can really connect with it. However, I’m generally not a huge fan of art house movies. (I think it’s way too easy to fall into pretense.) Of all of his work that I’ve seen, I prefer his movies with a more well-defined (if non-linear) plot (Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Lost Highway) to the movies that are more simply about the visuals and surrealism (Inland Empire).
- The acting, directing, cinematography, and all the other technical elements of filmmaking are top notch. There really isn’t a weak link, which is extremely impressive when you find out this started as a student film.
- The world of the film is fully realized and pulls the viewer into it. This is a nightmare hellscape, and Lynch pulls it off with flying colors. (Though the film is in black and white… see what I did there?)
- The soundtrack is perfect. If you’ve seen the movie, try to picture it without the soundtrack. You probably can’t.
- Though the symbolism is memorable, it’s pretty obvious. I’m baffled to read reviews from people who don’t understand it. Sperm shaped objects? What could those possibly represent? I think the symbolism is very heavy but very easy to analyze. I prefer Lynch’s films in which the symbolism isn’t so blatantly obvious. This was his first movie, though.
- I found some scenes to be a bit dull and drag on a bit. The scene with the dancing girl stepping on sperm seemed to go on and on. The ending, which I won’t spoil here, seems to last forever. Compare Lynch’s first movie to his latest. Both are very surreal and more reliant on symbolism than on plot or pacing. Eraserhead is 90 minutes long while Inland Empire is twice that length. To me, Eraserhead felt like a longer movie.
If you’re a David Lynch fan or an arthouse fan, this is almost required viewing. If you’re unfamiliar with David Lynch’s work, however, I’d probably recommend starting with something more mainstream like the TV show Twin Peaks or The Elephant Man. Overall, I’m glad I saw this film but I can’t imagine I’d want to watch it again anytime soon. This surrealist nightmare of a film envelopes you in Lynch’s world, one that you won’t soon forget. (It won’t be erased from your head… get it?) In heaven, everything is fine.
Story: ★★ of 5
Drama: ★★★★ of 5
Visuals: ★★★★½ of 5
Overall: ★★★½ of 5
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