a Primal Root dirty thought
Maybe there is a fourth kind of Trash Cinema. One that is born of imagination and is so far outside the norm it leaves both audiences and critics completley dumbfounded. A type of Trash that’s so imaginative and introverted no one knows quite what to make of it. Films born of trash and bound for glorious cult status. David Lycnh’s Eraserhead certainly meets this criteria.
As an avidly devoted fan of all things David Lynch one question I always run into is “Why?” followed almost instantly by the blanket phrase “I don’t get his stuff.” To which I look them dead in the eye and say “What is there to get?” Why must you always be blatantly given something by a film? The one thing I feel all fans of Lynch’s work have in common is a deep abiding love for mysteries and the simple and obvious concept that, hey, maybe there are no easy answers? No quick solutions? No pretty package wrapped up and ready to be presented to you upon completion. It’s one of the more frightening conceits that maybe…just maybe…we’ll never know the answers.
Recently I was asked about one of David Lynch’s most heralded works and possibly one of his hardest for viewers to grasp. Eraserhead. Coincidentally, this happens to be my favorite of Lynch’s work and one of my favorite films ever made. Why is there so much love for this film? Why are certain people in our society completely bat-shit crazy about this strange little fever dream of a picture? Well, fellow Trash Collectors, I’m going to try my damnedest to express my personal admiration and deep abiding nerd love for this most legendary of midnight movie cultism.
And no it’s not about just “I get it and you don’t.” That’s all bullshit if you ask me. It runs far deeper than this simple declarative statement.
David Lynch’s debut feature film, 1976’s Eraserhead, is like a living nightmare. It is surreal but there are undeniable human truths and emotions there. Dread, pain, abandonment, longing. But that there is also hope and there is love to be found. As the song says, “In Heaven everything is fine.”
But like all dreams, nightmares, and art, their meaning must be interpreted by those experiencing it. The intent of the artist no longer matters. Eraserhead to me is one of the most honest and disturbing depictions of masculinity and the fear of fatherhood ever put to film. About the insecurities we must mask, the emotions we must bottle up, the dreams we must abandon, and the people whom we are that must be repress in order to get by in society. And the desperate hope that maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of a very dark tunnel. It encompasses all my fears as an adult male. That I am not good enough. That I will fail at business, life, love and be left behind. It’s the darkest fears lying dormant but always weighing heavy on a subconscious level.
But see, my reason for loving and appreciating Eraserhead, and my interpretation don’t mean anything! Lynch created a totally subjective piece of art! My reason for loving it is a million miles away from why this guy or that girl love it. And some people just can’t stand it and that’s absolutely fine as well and completely understandable. But for a group of us Eraserhead struck a chord and there is something distinctly human there. Something warm and indescribable. Hidden in our deepest, darkest, places . Rather than give us answers Eraserhead boldly suggests that we find or make our own. That in life there are no easy answers to these mysteries so much greater than ourselves. That it’s up to us to find our own.
-The Primal Root