On March 19th, 2017 – the 40th anniversary of the film’s first screening – I will reveal the secrets behind Eraserhead.
On March 19th, 2017 – the 40th anniversary of the film’s first screening – I will publish a graphic novel that shares the most guarded secret in Hollywood cinema: the inspiration and meaning of David Lynch’s first feature film, Eraserhead.
For decades, viewers have felt befuddled by the film. Many have analyzed it and some have shared their theories. Common conclusions are that the film is about sex and fear. These conclusions are not wrong. The film is chock-full of sexual innuendo and we feel fear as soon as we sense its first frame and rumble. The problem with these premises are that they are too broad and too general to explain the key points in the film.
The film has a string of absurd details that appear to be random, but we intuitively feel that they are obsessively intentional. David Lynch has said that Eraserhead is his “most spiritual film” and has mentioned that it is related to a line in the bible. At the end of the film, Henry, who has just killed his baby(!) is rewarded with bliss just before the film abruptly cuts to silent black. “Fear” and “sex” explain none of these things. Again, they aren’t wrong; they just fall short of the mark.
In my opinion, a full explanation of the film must address these points:
1) Explain many, if not most of, the absurd details,
2) Show the spiritual nature of the film, and
3) Explain why a whiny, empty-headed man would be rewarded with heaven after killing his child.
Over thirty-eight or so years, I had never read any analysis that even came close to answering these three calls.
Then one day, I read a line from a reviewer that said, “Henry is a… ” That led me to think of a literary text. On first glance, there was no connection. Then I read the older text and found some metaphorical lines that matched the film. The more I read, the more I found. After extensive digging, I found over seventy correlations. I also found alignments with character, themes, and plot. It was uncanny.
Rather than blab about it, or write some boring, academic-style paper, I created a graphic novel called The Key to Eraserhead. On the films 40th anniversary, I will publish it on Amazon and iTunes.
So if you can read a comic book, you can understand Eraserhead.
The brilliant thing about Eraserhead is that the inspiring literary text is also very deep and quite open to interpretation. This means that my “reveal” is unlikely to kill the film for most viewers. If anything, they will think about it more deeply and go on to gain ever more profound insight.
For those who have said that, “Eraserhead is just a bunch of random stuff thrown together”, they couldn’t be more wrong. And if you were wondering if David Lynch is a genius or a fraud, I appreciate his genius more each time I think about what he had put into his film.
If you are into David Lynch’s work, do yourself a favor and read the book. It will give you new insights into how meticulous he is with his craft and you will gain critical clues that will help you understand all that has come after his first cinematic release.
Happy anniversary to Eraserhead, indeed!