Monday, November 3, 2008

Even now after seeing David Lynch's Eraserhead I cannot seem to get some of the images out of my mind. I feel a need to cleanse myself and see something relaxing and recognizable after witnessing what I would describe as a disgusting, disturbing, uncomfortable display of meanings and commentaries that come together to make the polluted, sickening presentation of filth that we witnessed. If to make people feel uneasy and uncomfortable was the purpose for David to make films such as these then he did a great job.
Even from the very beginning of the film things are not right, at least, not the way most people view them to be. The beginning composition with the character "Henry" being horizontal and zooming in and out as well as being panned up and down vertically was a sign of the off-balance things to come in the rest of the film. It was all very slow, slow movement with a droning, wind and atmospheric background noise throughout the entire film with the exception of a few strange songs with actual lyrics being repeated over and over again in them.
There was a feeling of disease and an organic, biological mix with the mechanical industrious deadness of nothingness.
The concept of fading in and out and closing in used through the darkness and the light mingled with size relationships was alien. It all felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable. The desolate and barren scapes mixed with industrial deterioration and ruin brought about a sense of being lost and in despair with no hope of ever escaping a monotonous nightmare of the unfamiliar and uneasy.
The Human interactions and displays of emotions were hard to watch because of a dark underlying sense of un-reality, what made sense and what did not make sense.
Some words that came to mind when watching were
Dirt/filth
neglect
despair
breaking point
stranger
destruction
emptyness
disturbance
awkwardness
There was a very dark undercurrent and I could definatley apply consumption, excess, sacrifice to the wasted food at the dinner scene, the killing of the creature. At one point I thought of the "Tell Tale Heart" when "henry" is laying down and the creature is making sounds that seem like laughter right before he kills it with the scissors.
Does a person have to be in a certain state of mind to watch something like this or especially make something like this? It was hard to watch and I wish I had not watched it but I see the value in looking at all sides of something, whether it be a piece such as this film or a movement like surrealism.
Going against the flow and the norm seems to be a main canal for the surrealist movement. The slap in the face to "high art" and artists from the Renaissance. Embracing the unconscious world of a neither reality where anything good or bad or strange is possible and does not seem out of the ordinary because the ordinary does not exist.

3 comments:

headonastick3 said...
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headonastick3 said...

You are right, Johann, Surrealists DO protest and challenge conventions and hierarchies of art, as you remark, and they are also seeking alternative ways to create and connect with the more messy unknowable parts of our existence, which attract and repel, frighten and excite.

What is interesting about Lynch is how he unpacks Surrealism in this film. Disturbing and raw yes! Viciously visceral, deadening, deafening, an assault to our senses and soul. I think many Surrealists felt that people had been deadened by hierarchical forms of art and needed to confront the things that kind of art avoids, ignores, and overlooks. I think those artists wanted to find depth in mundanities, exalt our lowest behaviors to expose the contradictions and paradoxes.

I saw this film for the first time in 1981. I had never seen anything like it until that point. Maybe Pasolini and Fellini, but those directors come from other angles and identity politics. Lynch toys with Hollywood, cinema, and life. I think the power of horror is used superficially, here it is revived and reanimated to exhume our humanity.

kt_kthx said...

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the film. I didn't like it at all the first time I saw it with my boyfriend, Justin. He's very into David Lynch films. His work grows on you. He really wants you to think. If you watch it a few more times you can get past the disgusting bits and focus more on the deeper meanings. He absolutely hates Hollywood cinema, so you'll never see him create a romantic comedy for sure!