Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Birthday David Lynch!

I stopped trying to make sense of David Lynch films in the moment I realized that a woman with chubby cheeks was dancing inside of a radiator. While ERASERHEAD rests comfortably in the realm of great film making, I have barely met one person that is confident of its true meaning. David Lynch is one of those infuriating director’s that keeps most of the deeper meanings of his films to himself. This is why I’ve resigned myself to believe that David Lynch composes the bulk of his films with the aid of a gigantic wheel depicting several random and seemingly unrelated phrases. The wheel is spun until Lynch arrives at the strangest imaginable description of something and then he writes the scene literally.

Ignore the misspelt Nitrous

Here are some possible results of the wheel of ridiculousness.

Old people, paper bag, smiling, purgatory, dumpster, monster.

Swollen cheeks, radiator, weird dance, uncomfortable, worms, squish.

Nitrous Oxide, humping, daddy, closet, velvet.

See? It makes perfect sense. This is why he never tells anyone what the hell his movies are supposed to mean. They mean nothing.

Of course there is another possibility. I suppose what really happens is that David Lynch is a genius. A man who thinks of things few of us will ever be able to experience. A man who probably thinks in terms of algebraic functions, or worse---knows what they mean. Yes, that must be it. The very thought that someone out there conceived of a notion where the sounds of a radiator turn into a scary woman dancing on a stage and squishing worms is enough to make my head explode. It makes me want to find a secret door and enter into his head, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH style. Would I find the inner workings of a factory, churning out Kafka ideals and existential thoughts? Or would I find a chaotic palette of random ideas and themes meshed together like one grotesque blob?

Aside from the fact that most of us have no idea what these films mean, we tend to love them regardless. While I admit to needing some time to get warmed up, I believe I have finally reached a point in my life where my acceptance swells with a bright feeling of joy. Yesterday I found myself craving the need to watch MULHOLLAND DRIVE again, and before that I was immersed in the land of DUNE—hypnotized by Kyle MacLachlan’s odd inner monologue about the spice. This is a step above where I was previously. Before this I found that I had to be in a very specific mood in order to even pay attention to a film as surreal and oddly moving as one of Lynch’s. It took me two tries to watch BLUE VELVET and I only watched half of ERASERHEAD before being so strangely disturbed that I had to take a break of 6 months before a second attempt.

This brings me to a question that has been plaguing me for a while now. What is it about David Lynch and his films that often leaves them on lists of disturbed films? Having just watched IRREVERSIBLE, I was combing through lists of what others had deemed the most shocking and disturbing films. I’m always a bit surprised however to find that ERASERHEAD almost always appears somewhere in the top five. Can I really agree that ERASERHEAD is more disturbing than a film like IRREVERSIBLE or even CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST? Strangely, I think I can. After all, I was able to watch CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST in one viewing but ERASERHEAD for whatever reason had me tripped up. If trying to figure out what David Lynch’s films really mean is impossible, then trying to come to a conclusion of what makes them particularly disturbing must be equally hopeless.

As far as I can tell, ERASERHEAD employs the Lynchian method of trapping the viewer inside a tiny bubble of confusion, keeping them cut off from oxygen and only supplying them with strange images and themes. We are kept in the dark, away from civilization and we are instead forced to watch a world in which deformed cackling cow fetuses laugh at men with fuzzy hair and where a line of pencils comes dangerously close to becoming the world’s most beautiful shot in the world. I’m serious. When I think of how uniquely perfect that shot of all the pencils is, I start slowly placing it over CITIZEN KANE inside my head. Pencils. Pencils!!!

When I’m watching ERASERHEAD I feel like I’m trapped in the bowels of a nightmare. I get worried that if I watch it for too long my head will be trapped inside of that world and that I’ll develop an eraserhead too.

It surely is one of those nightmares that you can’t wake up from. Sure, no one gets raped-- but cow fetuses get stabbed and weird shit happens. Like really weird shit. ERASERHEAD with all of its oddities then is something of a mind fuck and is a film that impairs some portion of your daily thought processes. It is perhaps one of the most disturbing films that I’ve ever seen. It’s unexplainable aura of dread and its nightmarish landscape of industrial waste is in fact something that sticks with its viewer until long after they watch it. Even still to this day, when I lay on my bed and hear those sizzling obscenities emanating from the radiator, I envision—hell.


commodore sixty four said...

That homeless person that lives in back of the diner in mulholland drive made me almost poop my pants( most definitely the scariest face in your club)

Andre Dumas said...

Agreed. The only reason the dumpster monster did not win the coveted role of Scary Face Club president was because I didn't want to look at his face every time I put the banner up.

Unknown said...

Mullholland Drive is actually one of his 'easier' movies to de-code.You just have to keep in mind that 'waking life' versus 'sleeping life' (is the Naomi Watts character seeing her life flash before her-after shooting herself in the head?)the cigarette lighter should be the focus of one's attention. All of the people she has met in 'reality' have taken form in her 'dream'.