David Lynch: The Big Dream

Eraserhead

David Lynch

Made over a period of several years at the American Film Institute, Lynch's first feature debuted to critical and audience confusion (and some repulsion) in 1977, before becoming a midnight-movie sensation and, later, a recognized classic of American cinema (it was added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 2004). In a toxic industrial wasteland, tall-haired Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) is left to care for his sickly, indescribable infant after he is abandoned by his distraught wife Mary X (Charlotte Stewart). As father and child are confined to Henry's dismal apartment, the film's narrative deteriorates into a virtually plotless, dystopian vision of parenthood before culminating in an abstract, cosmic crescendo. Filmed in chiaroscuro black and white by Frederick Elmes and Herbert Cardwell, and accompanied by Alan Splet's evocative sound design, Eraserhead creates a fully imagined nightmare so tactile that it will leave you gasping for breath and yearning for a shower. "A masterpiece of texture, a feat of artisanal attention, an ingenious assemblage of damp, dust, rock, wood, hair, flesh, metal, ooze" (Nathan Lee, The Village Voice).

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