Close Up

9 April 2017: Eraserhead + The Grandmother


David Lynch
1977 | 89 min | B/W | Digital

“Generally considered one of the truly groundbreaking independent films to emerge in the horror and horror/thriller genres, Eraserhead offers a vaguely linear plot, ambiguously motivated and realised characters, and, despite an atmospheric dreamscape created via such familiar images from psychoanalysis as spewing liquids and worm-like organisms, an arguably incoherent set of messages about the interconnectedness of sexuality, identity, violence and loss.” – Senses of Cinema

David Lynch's startling debut feature, about an eccentric, curiously coiffed young man living in a nightmarish industrial-dystopian dreamscape, became a midnight-movie cult hit and one of the most legendary independent films of all time. Shot over the course of several years in a shed on the grounds of the American Film Institute and on a budget that hardly qualifies as shoestring, the debut feature by David Lynch is one of the most stunning, original and unprecedented American films ever made. Set in an unnamed, desolate urbane wasteland, Eraserhead loosely chronicles the travails of shock-haired loser Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), whose already bleak existence is made just that much worse when his embittered girlfriend reveals that she has given birth to their "child," an indescribable, mewling mutant. Confined to his awful apartment with the constantly crying baby, Henry seeks solace by gazing into his radiator – where a smiling, putty-faced woman sings, dances and assures him that "in Heaven, everything is fine" – and slides ever deeper into a world where dreams, nightmares and fantasies fuse. Endlessly influential yet utterly inimitable, Eraserhead is "a sui generis masterpiece that most spectators and critics never quite know how to take"– Jonathan Rosenbaum

The Grandmother
David Lynch
34 min | B/W | Digital

A young boy plants some strange seeds and they grow into a grandmother.

Part of our retrospective on David Lynch