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Trillian's avatar

Can anyone explain a David Lynch movie?

Asked by Trillian (21099points) May 25th, 2010

Every so often I’ll brace myself and try yet again to get through a David Lynch movie. I’ll say “Maybe you were just having a stupid day, and were too flighty to get it.” The only one that made sense that I know of was Dune, and I have to assume that it was because he had no hand in crafting the actual story. I’ve made it through Blue Velvet many years ago and I plan to try that one again someday. I also watched Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. I didn’t get any of them.
Tonight, I just forced myself to sit all the way through Eraserhead. Not only did I not get it, I anticipate difficulty in sleeping.
Who was the scabby guy at the beginning and the end? What was up with the Carol Channing looking chick with the golfball cheeks? What was the point of those umbilical cord looking things? Why did the Cornish hen kick and spew goo? WTF was that “baby” all about? Why did the main guy’s head just pop off? Why did the kid scoop it up and run with it? What was the idea behind the guy drilling a core sample then slicing it into erasers?
I was thinking about watching the tv series that he was responsible for from a few years ago, I have them in my netflix instant queue. Now I don’t know if I should. They may push me over the edge. Can anyone explain anything about David Lynch movies or is there really nothing to get?

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8 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

I love his films. They are more art than entertainment; they reach you on a subconscious level. I haven’t seen one of his movies in awhile, but IMO, Mullholland Drive is the most coherent of his films. Basically, the Naomi Watts character pays to have her ex-lover killed, and after her lover is dead, she begins to go crazy. The movie is her delusions and those delusions eventually lead us to the truth. The Naomi Watts character kills herself in the end. The movie is not linear. I don’t think any of his movies are linear.

Twin Peaks (Lynch’s TV show) is one of the best shows ever aired.

If you are one of those people that has to have a definite conclusion just give up on Lynch all together.

filmfann's avatar

Eraserhead was his first big effort. My favorite part was where the people at the dinner table realize their conversation isn’t as compelling as the noises under the sink.

If you want a David Lynch movie that makes sense, try “The Elephant Man”.

Trillian's avatar

@tinyfaery Thank you for your, as always, courteous answer. I appreciate being lumped into a broad category and dismissed.
I didn’t actually ask for a definite conclusion, just some explanation. I tried to convey that I feel like I’m missing something that seems obvious to others and wanted some insight. Perhaps my use of the English language needs work. I had thought that I was making myself clear, but perhaps not.

tinyfaery's avatar

Sorry you took it like that. Defensive much? It’s simply true and I meant nothing else by it. I’ll never waste my time on you again.

Trillian's avatar

Promise? Thank you.

Berserker's avatar

I’ll do my best to try and explain what I understood from watching this, and I’ve watched it a lot…yet it still confuses me. Now don’t take my word for it, I just came up with my own conclusion and some things I read on the movie, but that’s what’s fun about his work, is that none of it is clear, and despite the countless interpretations, Lynch himself has admitted that out of all the synopitical suggestions and theories, almost nobody caught his actual idea. But then how the hell do you? XD

Anyways, what I understand is that the whole movie is telling a story through symbolism, and everything you see on screen is not anything that’s actually happening. Not exactly something that TV Tropes probably has a name for besides visual analogies, but it’s like if I were to explain to you how the planets revolve around the Sun using square objects as demonstration. And the premise, as told through complicated and freaky visuals is quite simple; this is basically about a man, Henry, and his problem. To me, the problem isn’t very clear, but it’s supposed to be about his sense of inferiority in society, and with himself, most of all. In other words this guy is a shy man with a low self esteem, no determination, and too much fear, he’s afraid of facing shit up, he’s scared of others and what they think of him and alla that.
For example, the scene where his girlfriend’s father asks him to cut the chicken for him is meant to represent the father’s approval about Henry and his fiance’s wedding. He’s an alright guy you know, even if he needs some help with his esteem…anyways, the chickens freaking out represents him fucking up the whole thing. The fatter gives him his daughter’s hand, but somehow he can’t handle it, and the chickens foretell the ruin of said love, the wailing grandmother, old and wise, perceives this and laments Henry’s inadequacy at being a stern and strong lover.
I know it sounds stupid, but that one scene tells me the most about Henry’s personality, although the famous baby itself is a physical representation of Henry’s problem, as often told through various theories and such.
The deformed baby represents his instability, his fears and his lack of power (Or will.) to do anything about it, and when the baby gets sick, this is his problems getting worse, as you witness with his woman finally walking out on him.

When the baby grows as a monster and attacks him, Henry kills it. Personally, as the core of Henry being a writhing mass of fear and self loahting, I see it as him committing suicide. The baby IS Henry, at least his inner self, and maybe I’m a pessimist but to me the whole movie pretty much suggested that he isn’t much more than that, so there’s nothing left if you take away the ’‘problem’’...however, many people see it as him finally dealing with his issues and getting rid of them. Doesn’t work for me though, as the scenes with the eraser and head seem to suggest that his problem has taken him over and killed what may have been. Remember when he was told the baby was his and he’s got to deal with it now?

The lady dancing on foetuses I think is his mother, and in that scene the movie tells us that he’s all fucked up because his mom didn’t treat him right when he was little. At least that’s what I say when I don’t get something; either blame mom or the queen of England. haha.
But no really, I think the storytelling is very complex as it uses symbolism for everything, but what it tells is a simple tale, so the childhood trauma thing, although I’ve never seen any specifications of, (There might be, though.) sounds quite plausible to me.

That’s what I think, after reading some theories and coming up with some of my own, but don’t take my word for it…many people will get in line to debate the menaing of this movie, I sure ain’t the only one, as there are many different things that people come up with for this. But still, hope you enjoyed the movie. :)

Trillian's avatar

@Symbeline Wow. I like the depth of your answer, and It makes me feel better to know that Mr Lynch says nobody got really what he was telling. So things were fetuses? Ok. Well, that makes some sense in that she stepped on them and they were everywhere and she didn’t seem to notice them. She was smiling kind of weird. I wonder what his mom really looks like…
I think I’ll look up online to see if there are any other synopses out there and read through them before I watch it again. Not getting it bothers me, like a sense of having missed something. I’m definitely going to watch it again though, and then I’ll start on the series, I have it in my queue for watch instantly so…..
I didn’t get American Psycho.. did he kill those people or not?
Thank you for taking all the time it must have taken to coalesce your thoughts and get it all down.
You’re lovely.

Berserker's avatar

Oh also, the baby was, apparently, the fetus of a calf…that’s what Lynch used for it. That’s freakeh. XD

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