Bad Boys for Life
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Told without dialogue, but with an elaborate soundtrack, combining animation and staged scenes, this David Lynch short tells a surreal story, many moments suggesting his later feature Eraserhead.
When setting my DVR for the week and seeing what was playing on TCM Underground, the description for this film, that a boy plants a seed to grow a grandmother, sounded so bizarre I HAD to record it. Watching the film, it's was even stranger than I expected, with a wordless story (the characters do grunt and vocalize), where all the characters in white face paint, filmed on sparsely decorated sets against a black background, and set to an unsettling score made up of what seems to be industrial noises (by a band named Tractor). While watching "The Grandmother," my impression was this seems like a bad version of "Eraserhead," but when the credits rolled I saw that this was in fact written and directed by David Lynch! This short film predates "Eraserhead" and if very amateurish in comparison. I'm a huge David Lynch fan, but "The Grandmother" felt more like a pretentious film major final project than a polished piece of filmmaking, instead brimming with self important, heavy-handed symbolism, amateurish acting, and poor photography. However, even in this primitive state, the visuals are unmistakably Lynchian, filling mundane settings with the surreal, a penchant for the grotesque (the boy stroking the growing grandmother is quite off-putting), and a very precise color palette. You can also sense Lynch's dark humor, although, like many of his earlier films, it's purposefully challenging and hard to watch. So to be sure, this is probably the worst David Lynch film I'd seen (until I watched "The Amputee" right after), but it's still interesting, if at the same time is annoyingly self important.
pointless. Don't waste your time
WTF! That is all I have to say.
This is my favorite short film Lynch has done. I love its absurdity as it can be found in the minimalist cinematography and several other haunting scenes. I like weird films, because, given the right director, they feel creative. Also, due to the ambiguity, I pick up on new details which I didn't think of before when I re-watch it. To me, it feels like a bizarre escapist fantasy which is a prequel to "Eraserhead".
One of David Lynch's more famous short films "The Grandmother" is a silent film about a boy who is horribly abused by his odd parents, once he sprouts out of the ground next to them during the beginning of the film, presumably signifying him to have been an unplanned pregnancy. The parents only seem to communicate with him through moronic shouts, and random bursts of physical abuse. One day after a day filled with torment, He finds a bag of seeds upstairs, one of these seeds contains the boys grandmother, he plants the seed, helps water it and grow it until his grandmother emerges from the plant. the boy and the grandmother form a bond, and the film gets stranger from there.
This definitely screams Lynch and is known as the work that helped lead to his much more accomplished film Eraserhead. While never really hitting the mark, however you can definitely see the signs of what would become one of the worlds most distinctive directors in Cinema. Lynch uses the colors of white and red well here against the entirely black backdrop, with purposefully choppy visuals, mixed in with crudely drawn animation that bleeds with symbolism, and eerie sound design to create something occasionally unsettling, but never at all clear enough to be truly thought provoking.
Before directing his breakthrough cult classic 'Eraserhead' David Lynch made this thirty-minute art school oddity, sketching on a smaller canvas the same nightmares that would later haunt his feature films. Using a raw, experimental style combining exaggerated live action with naive animation, Lynch flaunts his preoccupation with psychosexual imagery and symbolism, showing all the creative freedom (and many of the pretensions) of an artist discovering his true medium. Yes, the film does have a plot, but it's not really about a boy and his grandmother, any more than 'Eraserhead' was about a man and his baby. Shown on the same program (when I saw it, at the Red Vic Theatre on Haight Street in San Francisco) was the eight-minute animated 'Alphabet', another early Lynch project, and definitely not the sort of pre-school primer taught on Sesame Street. Viewers familiar with his more recent work will know exactly what to expect.
If anyone has anyone has seen David Lynch's Eraserhead and would like to see a fertile mind craft something similar but in a far more abstract manner then The Grandmother is your answer. I didn't think I'd find this as memorable as it ended up being, but it's certainly effective at its ability to disturb and fascinate you. Less focused on story and more about images and feelings, it will certainly give you something to remember.
So the weirdness of David Lynch actually mellowed in later years without disappearing totally, thankfully. This is a bit much though, you can't call this entertainment. It's just messed up for the sake of it, unless he has some nightmares about his childhood that he wanted to document that is.
A very early and disturbing 30 minute piece on family life as a surrealist nightmare. Live footage is blended with transitional crudely constructed animation that advances the bizzare and very surreal narrative. This being said, it focuses more on the creepy visuals and very simplistic and terrifying soundtrack to accomplish it's atmosphere. Very early work that you can see the latter Eraserhead being constructed from.