Film Review

The Sound of Eraserhead

todayFebruary 8, 2024 67 5

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By – Nick Adrian

For fans of David Lynch, surrealism, midnight movies

There has never been a film like David Lynch’s Eraserhead and there has never been a film that sounds like David Lynch’s Eraserhead. In a film where everything from its look, characters, story, and cinematography are incredibly unique and at-times groundbreaking, what has been applauded more than anything has seemed to be its sound design.

Sound has always been an intricate part in Lynch’s artistry, whether it is the haunting uneasiness of the film scores (often provided brilliantly by composer Angelo Badalementi), the tongue-in-cheek nostalgic oldies of his soundtracks (Bobby Vinton’s Blue Velvet to name just one), or the unsettling sound effects that perfectly compliment the just as unsettling images. It turns the act of visiting the cinema into a visceral experience – something that can come of novelty to some films. Yet, it is hard to imagine Lynch producing anything without sound. Even a tense scene set to no musical score would not pack the same impact as the powerful montage of sound and vision. This trademark was evident originally in his appropriately creepy early short films and was just as present in his first feature.

Eraserhead was made over a number of years while Lynch was attending the American Film Institute. A perfectionist who was seemingly aware of the unique vision he had, a first feature could make the young artist’s career – but it couldn’t compromise it. The reason the film is still just as unsettling and disturbing almost fifty years on is not simply because of its odd premise and visuals. What gets under our skin as viewers, viscerally, primally, without even realizing it – is the sound. The creaking of the industrial plants, the whistles of wind throughout the empty factory grounds, the paranoia-inducing electrical buzzing that would find its way into his subsequent works…Lynch knew that sound could elevate the artform a step higher. Such a young filmmaker seemed almost confident that he was to present something the audience had never seen – or heard – before.

Test it out for yourself and see Eraserhead on the big screen (and over the big speakers) at the Sidewalk Cinema, February 17 (at midnight/11:59pm) and 18.

Written by: Nick Adrian

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