David Lynch

Now that  you’ve seen “Eraserhead” (1977) and “Blue Velvet” (1986), write a 50 word blog post tracing the continuities of themes and techniques in both of these films.  What seem like the elements of David Lynch’s signature style?  For full credit, you must post in the correct number of words, and by 12 pm this Thursday (see course syllabus).

41 thoughts on “David Lynch

  1. David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet” use diegetic sound to bridge cuts together, first showing the effect of the sound, and then a cut to the source of the sound, which creates an unsettling atmosphere. His use of diegetic sound highlights his bias against non-diegetic sound, used for heightened discomfort.

  2. In both of these films, Lynch uses unsettling atmospheres and awkward concepts that makes the viewer feel like they should not be watching. Lynch’s use of a main character being, for the most part, clean-cut in a suit is also consistent in both of these films. Along with the main character, both films have a sort of “partner” to the main character that seems to feed off the mutual madness between them.

  3. What stood out to me was how Lynch uses sound in both movies. Dialog was used sparingly, and most of the sounds were diegetic. When he did use music, it was either very quiet compared to the other noises, or was used for a short amount of time to emphasize something. There were a lot of quiet moments which made most of the scenes more unsettling.

  4. At first, when I watched Blue Velvet, it was hard to see some of the things that carry over. They’re different in tone and atmosphere. However, I’ve noticed his style tends to scenes that take twists that a viewer does not predict. Another feature noticed mainly though, is his choice with sounds. Having sounds that either echo more than normal or are just abnormally loud and amplified. It tends to add an odd feel to the scene that may not have a similar impact with normal, diegetic audio.

  5. David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet” both feature a cast of strange, often irreverent characters; both films feature disturbing imagery—from the visual imagery to the sound design; and the plots of each film are unpredictable and bizarre, featuring non-sequiturs that illustrate a world that resembles our own, but isn’t quite ours.

  6. I found the sound in both films to be something that tied the two together. The attention to diegetic sounds in both films is what David Lynch used to create and uncomfortable moment for the audience. Lynch doesn’t restrict the surrounding sounds and background noise, it leaves the audience uneasy.

  7. David Lynch has a certain knack for the disturbing. Whether it be the plethora of gorey scenes found in Eraserhead or the severed ear and sexual assault found in Blue Velvet, his films find a way to make viewers extremely uncomfortable in a way most filmmakers are not able to.

  8. In both films, they have two types of female characters: the innocent and the femme fatale figure. Sandy and Mary X are depicted as being the “good girl”, as opposed to characters such as Dorothy and the Neighbor. In both instances, they are subject to the protagonists central struggle/desires.

  9. In both films, sound is the main connection that I found between the two. There is a part in each movie where the main male character is outside and the diegetic background sounds are turned up. In Eraserhead, it’s when the Henry is outside the house and the only sounds you can hear are the loud railroad noises. In Blue Velvet, it’s when Jeffrey is walking outside and discovers the ear. In this scene all you hear is loud nature sounds.

  10. Blue Velvet and Eraserhead’s similarities are most apparent in the Madonna/whore complex represented by their respective love interests. Both films have a more clean-cut, socially acceptable, less promiscuous blonde, in Mary X and Sandy, and a darker, more sexually active brunette who engages in prostitution (though it’s more implied than outright stated in Eraserhead) in Dorothy and the Woman Across the Hall. They also deal with themes of motherhood — in each case, one of the love interests is a troubled mother, and the male lead typically engages first with the mother, and then with the woman without children.

  11. I found that in both films, Lynch used phallic imagery and adultery to disturb the viewers. In Eraserhead the baby appeared to be a phallic image for the unhappiness in his life and in Blue Velvet, the man falling over and the dog drinking from the hose being held at the man’s crotch is phallic and represents the problems in a seemingly good and satisfying life. Perhaps Lynch feels that phallic objects make people unhappy because he often links phallic images with utter unhappiness. Similarly, in both movies adultery is present and is shown as a positive thing in the man’s life, but not positive in the woman’s life.

  12. In both of these movies by David Lynch, we see an awkward, dark-haired male lead, along with a gentle, blond female lead who feed off of this awkwardness. Meanwhile, the male lead is distracted by a dark-haired woman who is much more in tune with her sexual side.

  13. Within David Lynch’s films, the common traits the awkwardness between the characters, the music choice for intense moments, and disturbing imagery. The disturbing imagery goes from the sexual abuse, the violence, and the gross bugs in the ground and on the dislodged ear. The awkwardness he instills in his characters comes from a lot of silent like moments between conversation where something should be happening, or how he chooses to interact with women and a crazy man. Well with the crazy man he is not really super awkward but afraid. His music choice brings out the intensity of the scene and at the same time overdramatizes the elements of the scene playing out. The music he has playing not only overdramatizes the scene but makes the emotions come to life, putting the viewer on edge.

  14. Blue Velvet and Eraserhead are not closely linked in plot, though the two films share an actor, Jack Nance. However, the use of sound and light to create unsettling scenes to observe is evident in both. Lynch uses high pitched, loud noises and gruesome visuals in both films to increase the viewers discomfort.

  15. Both films used mostly diagetic sounds, and had a lot of silent moments. The frequent quiet moments and along with strange imagery gives the audience an unsettled feeling. The films also both had disturbing moments meant to shock the audience. The main characters in Eraserhead and Blue Velvet were both very awkward and were usually the focus of a lot of the uncomfortable imagery, again contributing to the discomfort of the audience.

  16. In both “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet,” it seems like David Lynch likes to focus on the use of sound. The way Lynch uses sound is unsettling in both movies and makes the viewer uncomfortable. The quiet diegetic and nondiegetic sounds present in both films, as well as the lack of dialogue, make them unnerving.

  17. One notable choice Lynch made with both films was the use of industrial settings. Both Eraserhead and Blue Velvet feature their main characters walking through dramatic and intimidating industrial landscapes throughout the films. Another connection between the two films is Dorothy and the woman in the radiator. Both characters perform songs with similar sounds on a stage, and both their songs have direct connections to the meaning of the movie.

  18. Both movies thrive off of diagetic sounds to heighten the audience of what is going on in the movie, but also to further unsettle them. On top of the very unsettling noises in the background, there are the femme fatale characters of Dorothy and the neighbor that are striking similar. Finally, both movies use locations that are grimy to look at.

  19. I felt like in both movies the use of props especially it really made the movie build suspense with especially what sounds were associated with each specific scene. For instance when you see the ear in the bush in Lynch’s film you kinda here the music intensifying a little in the background to build that suspense of seeing a human ear. When comparing to Eraserhead the scene where she is rubbing her eye; there was some music to even diagenetic sounds that really intensified the sound of her eye sounding squishy. I felt both of these movies really made little and even weird props kinda just catch the viewers eyes more dramatically when watching.

  20. Lynch’s signature style is creating dreamlike films with intricate sounds. His films occupy themes of violence, sexual and mental disturbance, and surrealism. In both Blue Velvet and Easerhead, his films highlight the sexual turmoil of a young man faced with both a “good girl” and a “bad girl” female characters.

  21. In the two Lynch films we’ve seen so far, David has used the lighting positions to create an unsettling atmosphere. He used backlighting to show Jeffrey Beaumont going down to the basement and created an unnerving effect for people and had hard frontal lighting on the woman in the radiator from Eraserhead to unnerve both us and Henry.

  22. In both “Blue Velvet” and “Eraserhead,” Lynch shows the fall from grace of the male protagonist. The protagonists are tormented throughout the films and their internal turmoil eventually comes to a head. In “Eraserhead,” it was when Henry killed the baby after having had his life suddenly ruined and uprooted by its presence. In “Blue Velvet,” Jeffrey beats Dorothy after she urges him to. In a later scene, we see him break down as he realizes his actions. Lynch appears to focus on disturbing or complicated aspects of domestic violence: harming those who cannot protect themselves (i.e. the baby) and in the case of Dorothy, taking advantage of a vulnerable person who is not in a situation conducive to safe and consensual acts.

  23. David Lynch’s films “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet” are both similar in the sense that they work to create an atmosphere that makes the audience uncomfortable, especially through the use of lighting and camera angles. This along with the use of some awkward characters successfully creates scenes designed to be disturbing to the viewer.

  24. “Blue Velvet” and “Eraserhead” showcase Lynch’s signature directing style. The level of discomfort and unpleasantness displayed in both movies are stylistically associated with a lot of Lynch’s films. Each scene of the two films is consumed with descriptive sounds, as well as grotesque imagery such as the head shot wound.

  25. Blue Velvet and Eraserhead are both uncomfortable films to watch. Lynch uses his movies to make audiences nervous and uneasy. He also uses lighting to his advantage to bring out the eeriness of certain locations in his movies. Unlike Eraserhead, Blue Velvet was full of vibrant color and light. Red was a huge feature in Blue Velvet whereas Eraserhead was black and white and relied on lighting and shadows to show the tone.

  26. David Lynch seems to like to go into the direction of making audiences uncomfortable. While watching both films I had the uneasy feeling but still wanted to see how the story progress. He does this with the dark elements and themes in both Blue Velvet and Eraserhead. While the lighting and atmosphere are very different, his use of sound really drives the unsettling feeling in both films.

  27. When watching “Blue Velvet” , I almost immediately picked up on some similarities to “Eraserhead”. Although the two films are about two completely different matters, there is a sense of grotesqueness and disturbing elements throughout both. “Eraserhead” is obviously a very disturbing and confusing film, but “Blue Velvet” is not as directly morbid. I noticed similarities in the ominous and tonal sounds/music used, as well as the use of diegetic sounds to put the viewer in the story more so. Another similarity I found was between the grotesque snake-membrane “child” in “Eraserhead” and the severed ear in the first few minutes of “Blue Velvet”

  28. David Lynch uses specific lighting and sound to create the tone and atmosphere of his movies. For example in Eraserhead, loud unsettling noises were often used, and there was a prominent use of sparse overhead lighting. The use of diegetic sound also played a big part of creating tension in Blue Velvet.

  29. In both David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet”, he uses scenes that are unsettling, abstract, and dark to intrigue the viewer and pull them in. He creates moments that are sometimes disturbing to watch and you can see similarities with this between the two films. His use of diegetic sounds in both films emphasizes the disturbing and alarming scenes. There is not much music in the films but when there is it is usually repetitive, using the same song in multiple scenes, like the song Blue Velvet in “Blue Velvet”. Certain dialogue in scenes is very loud and abrupt which grabs the attention of the viewer and intensifies the moments. Lighting and camera position in both films creates the eerie and uncomfortable atmosphere that Lynch likes to create. There are many dark elements of both films that can be compared to one another.

  30. In “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet”, David Lynch uses mostly diegetic noise with limited dialogue. The sound and visuals in both movies make the films very ominous and, in some ways, hard to watch. While Eraserhead’s overall lighting and design mimics the ominous music, Blue Velvets bright lighting and colorful setting paired with the music in a complimentary way.

  31. In “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet”, David Lynch uses mostly diegetic noise with limited dialogue. The sound and visuals in both movies make the films very ominous and, in some ways, hard to watch. While Eraserhead’s overall lighting and design mimics the ominous music, Blue Velvets bright lighting and colorful setting paired with the music in a complimentary way.

  32. Lynch appears to attempt to create an experience for the viewer that best approximates a discomfort with reality. Lynch creates a reality in which the characters are forced to face discomfort often sexual discomfort and in doing so in a way assault the viewers sensibilities. He accomplishes these goals by using unconventional cinematic techniques, the extreme long shots and close ups that seem to make up his personal style.

  33. David Lynch is best known to me by how he adds to his disturbing films with the use of otherworldly static, lack of background music, and he tends to blur the line between diegetic and nondiegetic sound. Another staple is how he often talks about love in a negative light.

  34. David Lynch’s signature style can be seen in “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet”. Lynch often uses surreal imagery, such as the shots of the ear in “Blue Velvet” or Henry’s visions in “Eraserhead”. Silhouettes and figures covered in shadows are commonly seen in Lynch’s works. Jeffrey is covered in shadow during shots that take place in the staircase. Henry is almost constantly covered in shadow during “Eraserhead”. Dreams are also a common recurrence. Henry has disturbing nightmares in “Eraserhead”. Sandy tells Jeffrey her dream about Robins in “Blue Velvet”, which is shown to be coming true with the robin consuming the insect at the end of the film. Lynch’s use of dreams also extends to his other works, being a large part of the plot of “Twin Peaks”.

  35. In both “Eraserhead” (1977) and “Blue Velvet” (1986), Lynch carries over the omniscient, yet awkward atmosphere. He accomplishes this in both films with the use of awkwardly spaced dialogue used sparingly at seeming the wrong, yet right moments. The way the characters speak, and interact with each other seems normal, yes slightly off, as if it’s too normal. By using this type of dialogue and by making the actors interact in the way they do, Lynch manages to give the entire film a slightly off and awkward vibe and atmosphere, much like “Eraserhead”.

  36. David Lynch’s style is noticeable in Blue Velvet, many of the techniques, dialogue, and cinematography are comparable to those used Eraserhead. His surreal and sometimes odd imagery can be seen in both films, such as the zoom shot on the severed ear leading to the next scene, and the zoom through the radiator in Eraserhead. Another clear similarity is the awkward and seemingly unnatural interactions between the characters in both movies.

  37. David Lynch has an distinct vision of the American experience and the way we perceive trauma, change, and tragedy. He uses symbolism, and lets it speak for itself. Lynch has a style that focuses on stylistic discomfort, through music, imagery, and plots. He loves slow camera movements and bizarre scenes.

  38. David Lynch uses slow camera movements and diegetic sound to make it feel as though the person watching the film should not actually be watching. His main focus as a director is to make the audience uncomfortable using stark ways of manipulating the film with the interesting plots and the music used. The characters, though they are talking normally in most instances, seem to be off putting and you as the viewer seem uneasy at every moment. There is a continuous suspense throughout the film and it is unsure when the tension will be resolved, or if it will ever be resolved.

  39. While analyzing “Blue Velvet” and “Eraserhead”, I found the commonalities between the two to lie in the use of diegetic sounds and the unsettling environments he creates. In both movies, the main character appears to be well kept while the movie follows their descent into madness. Both movies also have female characters that fan the flame of the main characters madness.

  40. Both of David Lynch’s films “Blue Velvet” and “Eraserhead” use sound as an advantage through diegetic sounds. Creating scenes with suspense and a small fear factor. This is a commonality that I believe David Lynch uses to help stir up more tension and help grip the attention of the audience. With both films having female characters that inspire and drive the craziness of the protagonists it shows similarities in how Lynch likes to drive the plots and develop his characters.

  41. “Blue Velvet” and “Eraserhead” by David Lynch both do well in confusing the audience with the absolute bizarreness of it all. There are things in each of the movies that do not make a lot of sense and almost give a glimpse of what occurs within David Lynch’s mind. Both movies also use limited dialogue and diegetic noises that create an unsettling feeling in the audience.

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