Saturday, December 24, 2005

David Lynch's Short Films

Although it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to summarise any of the three short films by Lynch that I saw today but I will try (and it is true for any surrealistic and abstract work of art, they exist precisely because conventional language fails to convey or even approximate what those works of art want to convey). Anyway, the first film The Alphabet, which is about five minutes long, starts with an animation with English alphabets appearing on screen in some random way and then the capital 'A' gives birth to small 'a' which then metamorphoses into a human figure. Not some regular human form but a surrealistic kind of human form direct out of those famous paintings which disfigure and distort human face and organs. Then all the alphabets enter the brain of the human figure and then there is some blood and a female voice tells us that 'remember we are dealing with a human form'. I wish I could say something profound like--'the film is about the mysteries of language and central role that it plays in human existence' but I will leave all that intellectual talk for now! Honestly it didn't make any sense to me :)

The second short, The Amputee, is more straight-forward and so least interesting of the all three. A young woman with both her legs amputated is writing a letter and reminiscing about some of her friends. A nurse comes and does her bandage and dresses her wounds but the girl doesn't pay any attention to it at all. She just goes on writing the letter. Again no idea what the short was about!

The third film, the longest, the most interesting and the most coherent (comparatively speaking) of the all three is The Grandmother. A lonely young boy, who is abused by his parents plants a seed in his bed from which his grandmother grows (!). Boy has some nice time with her grandmother after that she perhaps dies after whistling loudly(!). The boy implores his parents to help his grandmother but they don't listen and whisk him away. He then meets up his grandmother in the grave yard.

In a nutshell the shorts are harmless intellectual exercises but unless you are a Lynch completist or a passionate student of surrealism, it is better to remain content with Lynch's Eraserhead. It contains all his experimental and thematic concerns that are on display in these shorts.

A brief introduction to some of these films is on this excellent website.

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