• Kaleb YW '20

Retrospective: Vol 2

As I will admit that film became a big part of my life during the past ten years, today I am talking about a single filmmaker who, with the messages and styles within his work, inspired me to expand my idea of what a film could be, as opposed to what it should be. Of course, I am talking about none other than Mr. David Lynch, or specifically, his films Eraserhead and Inland Empire.

David Lynch has been active as a director for the past forty years, but has since branched out into acting, music and Transcendental Meditation. The fact that he has been able to create work in these additional fields alone is a good indication as to how talented this man is. Of his films, the first I saw was his 1977 debut, Eraserhead. This film, in many ways, is an anomaly of not just his filmography, but film itself. While the film does have a plot, it is often abandoned in order to make way for an enormous amount of surrealist imagery (a trademark of his films). The basic plot is of a man who is forced to take care of his grossly deformed baby amid a harsh industrial climate, a hysterical wife, and a singing lady who lives in his radiator. As strange as this may sound, it hardly compares to the way these objects are presented. I often think back to some of the bizarre set designs, and how strange it must have been to create them, the design of the child being a prime example. While Lynch has stated that he was primarily influenced by Franz Kafka and Nikolai Gogol, it’s safe to say that some of the images in Eraserhead make their stories look like Little Women in comparison. While not a huge hit after its original release, the film has acquired a cult following throughout the years, and ranks as one of my favorites.

David Lynch’s reputation as an acclaimed visionary director is one of my particular interests. The majority of his films were polarizing upon their initial release, yet became cinematic touchstones later on, something that typically happens to a single film in a director’s filmography if they’re lucky. Whereas Eraserhead has a longstanding reputation as a cult favorite, the director’s 2006 film Inland Empire has yet to embrace this image. It could be argued that this film could be th

e work most similar to the former film. It contains extended sequences of surrealistic scenes that are meant to show the nightmares a film actress is experiencing as she finds herself turning more and more into the character she is meant to be playing. Lynch being Lynch, he takes full advantage of this, yet the style is notably different from Eraserhead. Whereas the former film is shot in stark black and white, Inland Empire features a handheld camcorder aesthetic, echoing back to the minimalist Dogme 95 style of Lars von Trier.

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