Arlecchino Cinema > 21:30


David Lynch

(In caso di pioggia, la proiezione si sposterà al Cinema Jolly e sostituirà la replica serale)


Wednesday 28/06/2017


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Ignored by most critics of experimental films, art films, and exploitation films – despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it has certain traits in common with all three categories – and treated dismissively by most mainstream reviewers at the time, Eraserhead found its limited audience only through the patience and dedication of its distributor, who kept the movie playing as a midnight attraction for many weeks long before it developed anything resembling a cult. […]

Lacking any conventional sense of plot or character, Eraserhead revolves around a dreamy and sappy young man named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) living with an undernourished, twig-like plant in a dark, squalid furnished room in an urban industrial wasteland. Invited to a grotesque family dinner by his former girlfriend Mary, he discovers that he’s fathered an illegitimate monster that resembles a wormlike fetus; Mary and their yowling, premature offspring move into Henry’s room. The creature becomes sick and its persistent cries eventually cause Mary to flee in the middle of a rainy night. Henry unsuccessfully tries to nurse it back to health, and when he fails, eventually destroys his progeny and, by implication, himself and the entire universe in the process.

A bleak tale, to be sure, but most of the movie unfolds less like a story than like a sardonic metaphysical meditation on the contents of Henry’s mind: a landscape of fantasy textures, mysterious processes, and industrial noises held together by dovetailing obsessions about sex, machinery, biology, botany, astronomy, and theology, all of them expressed nonverbally. And insofar as the movie has a story, it is nearer to nightmarish absurdist comedy than to angst-ridden tragedy. The closest European art-movie equivalents are not Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, but Orson Welles’s The Trial, the black and white sequences in Andrei Tarkovskij’s Stalker or (for its musically timed and comically abstract uses of silence and sound) Jacques Tati’s Mr. Hulot’s Holiday. Informed by a mesmerizing formal beauty and a highly distinctive form of black humor, with meditative rhythms that turn its slender plot into a perpetual series of discoveries and revelations, Eraserhead is a sui generis masterpiece that most spectators and critics never quite know how to take.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Cast and Credits

Scen., M., Scgf.: David Lynch. F.: Frederick Elmes, Herbert Cardwell. Mus.: Peter Ivers. Int.: Jack Nance (Henry Spencer), Charlotte Stewart (Mary X), Allen Joseph (padre di Mary), Jeanne Bates (madre di Mary), Judith Anna Roberts (la vicina di casa), Laurel Near (la donna del radiatore), Jack Fisk (l’uomo del pianeta). Prod.: David Lynch per American Film Institute for Advanced Studies. DCP. D.: 89’. Bn.