Scott OT #36: The Early Years of David Lynch Day Thread (1/26)

I was going to do a whole header devoted to David Lynch but it got too big. So, I’ll just be focusing on his early works for now.

He got his start making short films in the sixties and seventies. His short works include The Alphabet, The Amputee, The Grandmother, and Six Men Getting Sick. They’re interesting to watch and have some of the motifs that would appear in Lynch’s feature works.


(a scene from The Grandmother)

Through most of the seventies, Lynch was hard at work on what would be his feature-length debut and one of his very best movies, Eraserhead. It’s a surrealistic horror movie about Henry Spencer (played by Jack Nance) who has to take care of his deformed child. It’s… a weird one.


At its core, Eraserhead is a movie about Lynch’s sudden fear that came with becoming a father. Lynch’s real daughter Jennifer (a director herself) was born with severe clubfoot. Lynch poured his anxiety over his daughter into the film, resulting in one of the most surreal yet humane films ever.


(guys, I think that Mindymoo might like this film)

Eraserhead wasn’t an immediate hit but it had some big name fans, such as Mel Brooks, Stanley Kubrick, and John Waters. Brooks loved it so much that he sought out Lynch to direct a project he was long interested in, a biopic of Joseph Merrick… better known as “the elephant man.”


In terms of Lynch’s overall work, it’s one of his less essential works but it’s still highly worth a watch. John Hurt plays Merrick (called John in the film), was a highly deformed man kept in a Victorian freakshow. His handlers dismissed him as a dumb but he turns out to be a very bright man. He soon becomes a curiosity among the upper class in Victorian society.


The Elephant Man was nominated for eight Academy Awards but won none of them. Lynch was nominated for Best Director but lost to Robert Redford (boo, Ordinary People wasn’t that good!) and Hurt was nominated for Best Actor but lost Robert De Niro for Raging Bull (OK, this one was justified). Appallingly, it wasn’t nominated for its brilliant make-up work.

Well, that’s enough for today. I’ll talk about Dune, Blue Velvet, and Wild At Heart when I do Lynch again!! Hope you all have fun posting here today and have a great day.