The surreal Eraserhead comes to ICT
The year 1977 is cemented in film history with the releases of Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saturday Night Fever, Smokey and the Bandit and Annie Hall. While all of these films enjoyed mainstream success and acclaim, there was another monumental film that left its mark in more ways than one. Audiences wouldn't have found it in their usual megaplexes nor would it be recognized by the Academy Awards. It became one of the cornerstones of the midnight movie circuit and the textbook example of surreal cinema. The film in question is David Lynch's directorial debut, Eraserhead, which will grace Wichita this upcoming weekend at the Palace Theatre as a part of the Return of the Cults series.
Eraserhead is a difficult film to describe with all of its disturbingly fantastic black and white imagery set against an industrial backdrop. As the case with most surreal cinema, it's a film experience and everyone will get something different out of it.
The plot — which is as vivid as a half-remembered nightmare — revolves around Henry (Jack Nance), an industrial worker, who discovers that he has fathered a mutant child with his always-angry girlfriend, Mary (Charlotte Stewart), who does not want to hear the child's screams. He keeps bowls of water in his dresser drawers and watches a lady in a radiator sing about finding happiness in heaven. Worms are delivered in designer boxes and rain from the sky. Suicide is contemplated. Heads become disembodied. It is an odd movie, to put it mildly.
While the film is built around the imagery, the sound design is another contributing factor to the film's effect on the audience.
It took Lynch over five years to fully complete the film, which somewhat explains its erratic nature. Not only did Eraserhead jumpstart the career of David Lynch, but inspired other filmmakers like Tim Burton and David Fincher to manifest their bizarre imagery to mainstream audiences.
While other films in the Return of the Cults series have been from a wide range of definitions of what one might call "cult classics," Eraserhead is the epitome of a film that built a huge but inarguably narrow and devout following.
Opportunities for surreal cinema such as this don't come around that often and the chance to experience Eraserhead in a theater is not one to pass over.
What's truly the best part of seeing a film of this nature is a public setting is seeing the looks on people's faces when the literally unexplainable occurs.