Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)

I have never seen a David Lynch film before Eraserhead, having always had a premonition that he was of that school of offbeat over-lauded American filmmakers that include the Coen brothers among others. I haven’t ruled it out, but Eraserhead really is too good for me not to take a sudden interest. It’s weird comic-horror tinged with surrealism, taking place in an industrialized small-town dystopia and dependent on amplified social awkwardness and convulsive, guilt-ridden anxiety in the most grotesque, but still eerily familiar, situations. The auditory projections of paranoia and entrapment, always manifest in a soundtrack of perpetual screeching, throbbing and mechanistic sounds, pack the film’s biggest punch, even more so than the gloomy hospital-room look of the interiors, achieved by uncomfortable contrasts between over-bright lighting and cast shadows. All of the episodes and dream sequences build to a horrifying view of puritanical salvation, a unifying theme that elevates the film from the status of incoherent head trip to something far more gripping and personal.

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