Quite possibly his most famous film also happens to be his first.
Hard to imagine this came out in 1977 – except I mean that in a backwards sense.
Being shot in black and white immediately takes you back to classicism (this was released a decade after the Cassavetes boom of low-budget independent features) but besides the surface-level film look, the shot compositions are strongly akin to the silent pictures.
Seeing Mr Eraserhead walk through empty alleyways reminded me of a high-strung Chaplin.
I’ve seen this done a few times before, like in Under the Skin, where the opening is so surreal it feels disconnected from the rest of the movie.
I have no idea what the crustaceous man with the lever means;
I don’t know what any of the radiator stuff “symbolizes”;
I don’t even get the title.
Consider this less a story than some sort of meditation.
(One that is specifically interested in the fears of fatherhood.)
At least there is that anchor to latch onto, grounding the imagery to real emotions.
The same way House has a through-line that you can follow, Henry’s struggles with his … child, remain human enough in this un-human environment.
Also, it is surprisingly funny. (“OK, PAUL.”)
I felt the same thing watching Mulholland Drive (ie the napkin scene) where the strangeness is so out there that it comes across as ludicrous, albeit intentionally so.
Be warned: on the narrative spectrum, Eraserhead leans into the red where visuals supersede structure.
This one is definitely more … I guess you’d say “abstract” than Mulholland, but it remains an impressively unique vision.
Lynch’s darkly comedic, far out dreamscapes of the real world are quite a trip.
An excellent example of extremely personal filmmaking done without any hint of pretension.