When speaking of surrealistic cinema, it is impossible to leave David Lynch’s Eraserhead off of the list. This film was released in 1977, but it wasn’t until the early nineties when I would be exposed to it. A friend of mine was telling me about the most “fucked up” movie he’d ever seen. At the time, it couldn’t be found at any video stores, at least in my area. I asked my friend how he was able to see it, and he said that his dad had a dubbed copy. When we finally sat down to watch it, it appeared to be a fifth, or even sixth generation copy of a somewhat degraded original tape. It’s okay, though, because that only added to the charm of this nightmare-turned-movie. And indeed, Eraserhead was the strangest thing I had ever seen up until that point. I had seen some things by then, too, so that was no easy feat. Maybe it’s just me, and the way my brain works while I’m asleep, but never before had a film managed to encapsulate what my dreams were made of like Lynch’s Eraserhead. It’s a film where the oddities portrayed on screen are only rivaled by the sound design of the film itself. Something you don’t watch, but experience. Eraserhead was my first exposure to the world that is David Lynch, and an experience that would stick with me, all throughout my life as a filmaholic.
A dream of dark and troubling things . . .
David Lynch’s 1977 debut feature, Eraserhead, is both a lasting cult sensation and a work of extraordinary craft and beauty. With its mesmerizing black-and-white photography by Frederick Elmes and Herbert Cardwell, evocative sound design, and unforgettably enigmatic performance by Jack Nance, this visionary nocturnal odyssey continues to haunt American cinema like no other film.
I have a great deal of love for this movie, so I’m going to try my best to keep this more like a product review, than a movie review. You don’t need me to tell you all about Eraserhead, because if you have any interest in the film, you’ve already watched it, and consumed every explanation and examination of the film that you could find. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t plan on ruining your first experience with it. What I will say, is that despite its age and extremely limited budget, the film manages to translate quite well to the HD format. Granted, this is a Criterion release, and you can always expect nothing but top-tier quality from that house, but this home video exhibition of the film managed to surpass my expectations. I’ll get into specifics in a moment, but even more impressive to me than the picture quality – which is exceptional, by the way – was the sound quality. One of the most important components of Eraserhead is the eerie, often times random nature of the soundtrack. The ominous, industrial sound of the film is every bit as important as the visual presentation, and the uncompressed nature of the track, as well as the work Criterion did to make it even more perfect, made sure that I was every bit as uneasy watching the film as I was my first time.
Criterion’s Blu-ray release of Eraserhead is unquestionably the “definitive” edition of the film. Not only has it been restored – both in picture, and in sound – beyond my wildest expectations, but it features a wealth of bonus content. Some of this has been ported over from previous releases of the film, and some of it is new, and exclusive to Criterion’s Blu-ray. It features a 4K restoration, supervised by Lynch himself. It also comes with six different short films, remastered from 2K. All of which come with new introductions from Lynch himself. There is a new documentary, with interviews with Charlotte Steward, and Judith Roberts, as well as Lynch’s assistant director, Catherine Coulson, and cinematographer Frederick Elmes. There are some archival interviews with Lynch and other members of the cast and crew, a trailer, and more. Criterion’s Blu-ray release of Eraserhead is highly recommended for both fans of the film, fans of David Lynch, and fans of surreal, nightmarish cinema. Those of you that were already collecting films during the height of the DVD boom, know that it was almost impossible at one point in time, to get Eraserhead on DVD. For those of you that recall that particular point in this film’s history, this is the release we’ve been waiting half of our lives for. Buy your copy today, by either clicking here for Criterion’s website, or clicking here for Amazon.
- - Unrivaled Video and Audio Quality
- - Loaded With Extras
- - Criterion Collection Packaging With HUGE Booklet Insert