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Eraserhead (1977)

This is my first David Lynch movie.

...need I say more?

Eraserhead is one hell of a confusing movie. I like to think that I get the imagery employed by Lynch when it's about sexual themes like impregnation, fuc... errrr, making love, giving birth etc., but most of the movie was simply... well, not entirely lost on me, but partly lost on me. I'm sorry, I'm apparently not enough of an intellectual to appreciate the classics.

First things first (after my initial opening): Our protagonist, Henry Spencer, has creepy eyes. He's first seen sort-of floating in space, with a rocky planet which I tentatively identify as an artistic rendering of the Moon (I know that the Moon isn't a planet, thank you very much) in the background and apparently somehow connected to his brain.

This is the friendly man who apparently operates the... Moon? Henry's brain? Henry's Limbic System? I'd vote for #1 and #3 combined, as the Moon has a very strong sexual connotation in the Western Hermetic tradition (or even the Greek myths and all that), and the Limbic System is the "fight, fuck, survive"-center of our brains. So... yeah. Creepy man apparently controls our protagonist's sexuality through the Limbic System.

We then get treated to a deep canyon on the Moon. It literally looks like a birthing channel... and the transition goes from it being fully lit to it being completely dark. Directly after that, a Brain-Sperm-Spine-monster floats out of our protagonist's mouth and is dropped into a pit.

This pit looks quite creepy. It is filled with some sort of fluid, and I can't help but think that this symbolises impregnation. The pit as a symbolic metaphor for the vagina. How fitting.

The plot? Oh... the plot. Henry Spencer gets his sort-of (spasmic) girlfriend Mary pregnant, and she gives birth to... something. He then has to care for it, and it screams and cries and... makes noises, which slowly drives him insane.

At this point I should probably mention that our protagonist, Henry, looks miserable throughout the whole movie.

The thing that this movie really has going in favour of itself is the black and white optic (I adore B&W), the appropriately weird music (freaky!), the post-industrial landscapes with all those tubes and machines constantly working, never resting, and the blank windows, covered up with bricks and cement, staring onto the streets and into the rooms with blind, dead, unseeing eyes. The camerawork is also great, the shots are really beautiful.

One of the things I mentioned above is something of a weird thing, though. I mentioned that the windows are covered up with bricks and cement. As we mostly perceive the movie and respectively the world in which the movie plays through Henry's eyes, it might very well be that he just perceives the windows to be closed and covered up. His girlfriend's (if that term can be applied) windows are quite normal. So... reality or dream?


The sounds are creepy. There is hardly any dialogue in this movie - which I think is very important. Dialogue would destroy the desolate, creepy, lonely and surreal atmosphere that Lynch clearly aimed for. This movie is carried by sound effects, lighting and pictures. Thumbs up for that. I like movies with only a little dialogue.

This movie also treats us to fist-sized chickens that are, well, just like real chickens. With one difference: If you cut them, they start bleeding and... losing... fluids... and twitching in a definitely orgasmic sort of rhythm. And make sex noises.

Sounds squishy. Reminds me of sex-noises, sickeningly enough. Thank you, David Lynch.

It also makes the nice, elderly lady to the right ORGASM, She gets turned on by a twitching, oozing fist-sized chicken. Freud, anyone? Thank you again, David Lynch. It is nice to know who to blame the next time I have chicken and recoil in terror.

"They are still not sure if it is a baby!"
...if you ever hear those words outside of a movie, know this: Sounds like trouble.

So, we find out that Henry and Mary had pre-marital sex, and that Henry is now a Dad - of a "they are still not sure if it is a baby"-baby. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't take to these news too well.

This woman (Mary) is caring for...


That is NOT a baby. However you define baby, no matter how much you dislike babies (like me): This. Is. Not. A. Baby. Although it reminds me of the funny story of the exorcist of Vienna who aborted a demonic-reptilian-monster-baby, as told to me by one of the leading experts on Magick in Vienna, a 17-year-old Magister Templi (of his own order, consisting mostly of 15-year-old girls...).

I repeat: This is NOT a baby.

The sound effects of Eraserhead are great, especially when you play the movie loud. The "baby" is screaming. And I mean SCREAMING. CONSTANTLY. Annoying the Nine Hells out of everyone, including myself.

...and does anyone else think that it sort of looks like a cute dinosaur baby?

Anyways... Mary, who in between two scenes moved in with our protagonist Henry in order to care for the ..."baby"... decides to move out when she gets really, REALLY nervous from not getting enough sleep because of the screaming and crying reptilian/non-human brat she bred together with sweet Henry. So she does the only sensible thing and leaves him with the... "baby".

And I'll be damned, that thing is SCREAMING. Whenever Henry tries to leave the flat, the... "baby"... starts being annoying. Fucking annoying. Reminded me of that:

The First Primordial Malice from Beyond Time and Space, my cat Rincewind. He starts yowling every time I leave the flat, even if it's just for bringing down the trash, as well. I can sympathise with Eraserhead's protagonist's suffering.

That aside, we get treated to some weird dream sequences. For example...

WTF is THAT?!?!

IT is "dancing" amidst a slow rain of brain-spine-sperm-thingies. At the end of this dream sequence, it steps on the... thingies. I'm sure there's a lot of symbolism behind it - the destruction of virility and life, a disapproval of... uhm... non-Christian sexual practices like masturbation (the seed/sperm-stuff falls onto the ground, vaguely reminding me of the story from the Torah/Old Testament about Onan and his *cough*sin*cough*...)... lots of stuff. I just really can't be arsed to either watch the movie again or spend an hour thinking about it. So ner, there you go with my half-assed assessment of this scene's symbolism and significance.

I have four more pages scribbled full with notes, which shows that I actually paid attention to the movie. However... not today. I might update this review tomorrow, but for now, let me end on this note:

Lots of sexual symbolism and imagery, weird dream sequences, crazy part with erasers being made out of Henry's head (hence the title), killing of creepy "baby", suicide. Point.

Edit: I just got motivated to complete this review. I just can't, though. Sorry. If some day, you'll see a bright green line exclaiming "ERASERHEAD UPDATED!", then you'll know I managed to do it. But goddamn it, not tonight. I don't want to read those notes and make coherent sentences out of them anymore, and most of all, I don't want to dwell on the movie's symbolism anymore.
Wait for the update, if you're interested.

There. So much for my motivation. This whole movie just killed it.

Neutral 5/10 scenes that only make sense when you read up on psychology and the movie's history.