Priyanka Maharaj

Avant Garde Cinema || Eraserhead (Lynch, 1977)


An art film pushes the limitations of film forms in an attempt to discover new ways of presenting stories. I had only willingly exposed my self to two art films in the past, Magic Mike (2012) and Spring Breakers (2012), even then you may argue that those were just terrible. Notice how I said terrible? Yeah, because I had this misconception of art films to just be low budget films made by a bunch of weird pot heads in their mums basement… no hate to pot heads.

Sadly, that is exactly what I thought and then I watched David Lynch’s 1977 film, Eraserhead. Before watching the film, I told myself to just watch the film; an open heart, open mind type of approach. To not make any judgements until the end of the film. I failed at that.

Throughout the film, I questioned my sanity and all those that watched this film more than once. I got agitated; I was just in owe as to how is this film was regarded to so highly. But… after actually analysing the film, once I was safely back in reality, I realised how innovative and intricate this film was. The film utilised thematic elements of cinematography, mise-en-scene, lighting, ect., in conjunction with an intricate sound design to transport the audience into the surreal, story world of the main character.

Whilst I will not watch the film again, willingly, I do appreciate art films on another level. I guess I was wrong, avant garde film makers aren’t pot heads. However, weird, to say the least. I appreciate, although, that they don’t stick to ordinary conventions, they don’t play it safe and they, respectively, portray narratives in ways simple minded people, like myself, wouldn’t think to.