Catching Up: “Eraserhead”

Film’s that are abstract and weirder than usual are expected, and usually quite welcome. It shows a certain level of creativity, which can sometimes be overlooked when only the same type of films are constantly made. However, there comes a moment when abstract and unusual is too much.

The Libra Films International film “Eraserhead”, is simply too weird. Very weird. Stanley Kubrick is normal compared to this film.

This surrealist sci-fi film stars Jack Nance (“Lost Highway”, “Little Witches”), Charlotte Stewart (“Where’s My Sandwhich? (Short 2011)”, “The Inner Circle”), Allen Joseph (“Airwolf”, “Hey Good Lookin’”), Jeanne Bates (“That ‘70s Show”, “Mulholland Dr.”), Judith Roberts (“Orange is the New Black”, “The Heart, She Holler”), and Laurel Near.

The film was written and directed by David Lynch (“Inland Empire”, “Mulholland Dr.”).

The film originally opened on March 19, 1977.

Why must classics stand out so much to me? If they didn’t I’d miss out on the ones that are not particularly good or way too long. Of course, then I’d miss out on the ones that are truly great films, even all these years later. That would be incredibly disappointing. I’d also not be a major fan of that wonderful network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) which has probably been the sole reason I’ve seen so many classic films. Surprisingly enough, this film wasn’t viewed on TCM, but some other cable channel where movies are shown. Gotta love the random selection of films!

If anyone’s expecting some big praise of this film, you can forget it. It appears (I did some looking up) that my thoughts on this film fall more in line with those from the ‘70s. So, needless to say, they’re not good.

The only thing I loved about this film was that it was in black and white. Black and white, if used well, even in photography, can look amazing! Beautiful even. When the film started I instantly gave it a point for this factor alone. Too bad that was the only upside.

I wasn’t expecting that almost 10 minutes in the only thing achieved was a very weird opening. Nor was I expecting that it would be a total of 15 minutes before even the first lines of dialogue would be spoken. If I wanted that, I’d watch “2001: A Space Odyssey”. The film basically continues like this for the rest of its short 90 minute run. If this film hadn’t ended up totally weird (even for me) I’m sure I’d be more receptive to this particular approach.

Because this film was comprised of many long stretches of silence (which were boring), with occasional noises being heard from movement or breathing, or the baby crying, it was really easy to lose interest. Nance taking what seems like five minutes or more to check mail, not my thing. Along with the mail checking scenes, there were several other that just dragged on, and because of this, I found myself just sitting there waiting for whatever really weird and/or boring thing was going on to be over. When one weird and/or boring thing ended another usually began right away and lasted way too long.

While there appears to be a clear cut narrative, at least I saw it this way, it still doesn’t make this film any more watchable. The elements that made this story exist at all were largely about parenting, fatherhood to be more exact. Nance’s character has a “deformed” kid, although if you ask me, that’s not deformed like any of us might think, but more alien. It’s definitely the most disturbing thing about a film that’s disturbing and weird on all levels. If this film had gone on for any longer I’m sure I would’ve been closer to distraught than just confused.

I get, especially now, that Lynch is a director that likes to do things in an unconventional manner, I do. It’s partly what made me want to see this film when I saw it was on. Now, however, it’s giving me serious pause on wanting to watch anything he’s had a hand in, including the remainder of season one of “Twin Peaks”. It also has me wondering, do I even like “Mulholland Dr.” as much as I think?

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