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A surreal and darkly humorous vision, Eraserhead has been recognised as a cult classic since its breakout success as a midnight movie in the late 1970s.

Claire Henry's study of the film takes us into its netherworld, providing a detailed account of its production history, its exhibition and reception, and its elusive meanings. Using original archival research from the American Film Institute, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Margaret Herrick Library, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, this book traces how Lynch took his nightmare of Philadelphia to the City of Dreams, infusing his LA-shot film with the industrial cityscapes and sounds of the Callowhill district. Henry then engages with Eraserhead's irresistible inscrutability and advances a fresh interpretation, reframing auteurism to centre Lynch's creative processes as a visual artist and Transcendental Meditation practitioner. Finally, the book outlines how Lynch's 'dream of dark and troubling things' became a model midnight movie and later grew in reputation and influence across broader film culture.

Through an in depth analysis of the film's rich mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, and its embeddedness in visual art and screen culture, Henry not only affirms the film's significance as an auteurist debut, but advances a wider case for appreciating its status as a film classic.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages120
ISBN (Electronic)9781839025617, 9781839025624, 9781839025631
ISBN (Print)9781839025600
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2023
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameBFI Film Classics


  • Eraserhead
  • David Lynch
  • midnight movie
  • cult cinema


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