I just accomplished my mission in Los Angeles this morning. I’ll write a post how that went. The mission was to give a copy of my book I just got published to filmmakers to inspired me. Yeah, I’m a writer, but really more into film. And hardly anybody reads these days. Anyway, the last guy on the list was David Lynch. I just dropped a copy of my book off at the David Lynch Foundation.
Before dropping by, though, I checked out David Lynch’s Weather Report on his YouTube Channel and basically left a comment to the effect that if I could talk to him, I would tell him what Eraserhead was about. That was one of his first films. I read in an interview of his somewhere that people always come up to him and tell him what they think Eraserhead was about, and nobody ever got it right. I think I know what it’s about, and I was going to tell him, but the guy gets hundreds of comments on his Weather Report posts, and probably has no interest in the 1,000th dude getting Eraserhead wrong.
On another front, though, I was hanging out at the hostel last night, and there was this very beautiful girl from Spain at the table who is working on her PhD in film analysis. I want to see if maybe I can get her interested enough in myself and my book to maybe review it, and Icould put that review on my back page (if it’s a good review). And of course, she’s a hot chick, so I am always down to try to impress her regardless.
And then finally, I am trying to pad my writing resume a bit, and I just wrote a travel blog post, so now I am going to write a film analysis. So David Lynch, hot Spanish film professor chick, and whoever may want to look at my writing samples, below is a film analysis of David Lynch’s Eraserhead.
So when I look at a film, I’m going to have a tendency to look at what it could be trying to say allegorically, regardless of whether I think the filmmaker is actually trying to say anything. That is, Ilook for what the universe is trying to tell me with a film, rather than what the filmmaker is trying to tell me. And I am going to look for that meaning in hidden patterns within the story -allegories.
Now I haven’t seen Eraserhead in maybe ten years, and I’ve only seen it a couple of times, so this analysis is going to cover broad brush concepts from the film, and may miss out on a few minutiae that could enrich the analysis, but maybe contradict it as well. Therefore, please don’t let this analysis prevent anyone from doing their own thinking about what this unique and seminal film could possibly mean.
That said, be warned, there are spoilers below. In fact, I’ll start with a brief synopsis of the film as Iremember it.
The movie is shot in black and white with audio designed to be low-quality. While there is a sense that this technique is designed to give the film a retro feel from the black and white era with the particular sound suite found among golden age pictures, the reviewing public I think has rightly identified the effect of this technique as contributing to a tone of bleakness. It could even be a kind of backhanded insult against God for putting us into such a low-grade world.
Why the reference to God and an insinuation that David Lynch might be raging at him? Well, we have to get into the metaphors for that. But first, let’s take a look at the plot as my memory serves to recount it.
The movie opens with and returns occasionally to an ancient, deformed, goblin-like old man spinning something at the spinning wheel. It then begins to depict the life of a young man with a strange haircut (that makes him look like the head of an eraser). The young man finds a girl, and the two of them have a child, but the child is hideously deformed, like some kind of a worm or gigantic sperm. Nothing but an inhuman head on some kind of an atrophied, wormish body.
The young couple try to make it work, but eventually the woman can’t take it and she leaves him. He tries to stay with the child, but he also comes to the limit of sanity, or transgresses it, you’d have to be the judge, and ultimatle in a fit kills the child. At one point during the middle of the movie, he visits an old dancing woman in a psychedelic kind of a carnival scene in which she sings songs of hope and beauty. The protagonist simply walks away without having said much. There isn’t a whole heck of a lot of dialogue in the movie in general, but the way. It’s a lot of scenes of this guy going around and doing things and things happening to him.
Anyway, at the end of the movie, after killing the child, he returns to the dancing carnival lady to hear her songs of hope, and while he listens to her, deformed wormy children begin to rain all around, and the woman crushes them with her aimless, mindless dancing.
So how about this for some allegorizing:
The old goblin man with the spinning wheel is God. God is spinning our world into existence. It sucks. And God is just a senile old monster.
The protagonist, Harry Spencer, is you and I. Harry gets stuck with this deformed child and a wife who runs out on him when things get tough. So you and I are basically born into this world with out any say in the matter. We are afflicted with horrible situations that we can’t do anything about. These things are so hard to endure that those around us are simply unable to stick it through with us, so we add betrayal and abandonment to our list of afflictions.
Our attempts to resolve our situation amount to fits of madness, and generally involve mayhem and moral failure, such as when Harry kills his child.
Through all of this, we have religion trying to give us hope and answers, but ultimately the churches and synagogues of the world are just a carnival show of delerious senior citizens blathering nonsense of hope, completely oblivious to the rainstorm of horrific misery all around.
At the end of the film, Harry takes consolation in the dancing woman trampling all of the worms because that’s all he has. The goblin man hasn’t given him anything else.
That’s basically what my analysis of Eraserhead is. It’s an accusation that God is a terrible being who creates a horrible universe full of unwinnable situations that force us to the terrible things we do, and gives us nothing but false hope in ridiculous religion as consolation.
Of course I see life differently, but that would be the topic of a theological essay. But with the above analysis, well, first of all it’s not exactly a film review. I could write a short paragraph of a positive or negative review if I wanted to. This was my literary analysis of the allegorical meaning of the film.
With it, I don’t want to insult David Lynch. He is one of my Magnificent Seven filmmakers. I came on this trip to California inspired by another of his movies, The Straight Story. I’ve actually seen a lot of intense stuff in a lot of his work. If I ever did meet the guy, I would love to know if what I was seeing had anything to do with what he thought he was saying with it. The greatest art usually means more than the artist intended to say. And sometimes the artist is completely clueless as to its significance. I mean, if someone had asked William Shakespeare what he thought Othello was about, I bet we would all be shocked at the answer. Likewise, if someone had shown him all the things that people have pulled out of Othello over the ages, he would be soubly shocked. So I’ve seen a lot of things in a lot of his films over the years, and I’d be curious to know how much of an idea he has about the meaning of his work.
See, in my last post I did my best to recount the allegorical meaning of a bicycle ride I took through Arizona. Allegory is a literary technique that is applied to works of fiction, such as this art produced by the human being David Lynch. The bicuycle ride wasn’t a work of fiction produced by a human artist, however. It was a slice of my actual, factual life.
Nature and history are stories written by God. Truth is a story written by God. But humans can write whatever stories they want, and we can use these stories to program each other how we want. But what happens when a human being doesn’t know the meaning of his own work, and programs the world with this story that he has written? Could it be that God is using that artist to write a story to complement the stories that he tells mankind through history and nature?That could most definitely be. However, humans can also be influenced by spirits that oppose the divine, and they can wrote stories that contradict the divine messages that we receive through nature and history.
I think David Lynch was writing a story that opposed the divine message. Again, I don’t want to insult him. The movie was from 1977, 44 years ago now. I’ve written and said all kinds of things in my day, many of which are diametrically opposed to what I believe in at this point in my life. Who knows what david Lynch thinks about things as of today? Only he does, and his family and friends to some small extent. And there is the chance that he didn’t really know what message he would give to me with this movie because he was actually intending to give a completely different message.