Where to start? It really took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do for 2 extremes. I really wanted to pair something up with Eraserhead. Mostly because I wanted a good reason to watch the movie again and I thought it would be the perfect movie to double team with something light. I figured no other movie comes close in tone, subject matter, or really anything for that matter. I decided to follow it up with Wizard of Oz. Nothing says clean, good natured, family fun like Wizard of Oz. What follows is my experience and I was surprised by the results to say the least.
I kicked things off with Eraserhead. One of my all time favorites. This is a movie that pulls you into it's world and doesn't let you go. Everything about it creates a mesmerizing world you can't look away from. Even if you really want to at some points. And this time was no different. Without getting too pretentious I love the way this movie affects you, it creates this feeling of dread and uncertainty that are always just under the surface. You don't really know why , but it's there. I bring this up because it's the number one factor in what came next.
I fired up Wizard of Oz , a movie I've seen a million times, thinking I knew what I was in store for. This movie is a classic of old school Hollywood. An endlessly upbeat, positive movie with a message of overcoming odds and learning to appreciate the important things in life. On the surface this is as far from the bleak world of Lynch as possible, but as I started watching it seemed different this time. That same sense of dread carried over changing what the movie meant to me.
It all starts from the black and white scenes in Kansas. It's almost like another chapter starting in a larger story, linking the two movies. A story connected by dreams. For me Eraserhead has always been a terrible dream brought to life. Our time in Kansas feels like the bridge between the nightmare of Henry's world and the magic of Dorothy's time in Oz. The wind swept farmland a perfect counterpart to the industrial wasteland of Eraserhead. Two sides of a coin.
The switch to the garish Technicolor world of Oz is an abrupt splash of color and happiness that provides a temporary sense of comfort. One that quickly dissipates. I began to see the darkness in Oz. I'm not just talking the Witch and her terrifying monkeys. It's the little things. A "good" witch manipulating a scared little girl into murdering her enemies, an entire race of little people trapped in the middle of a conflict they can do nothing about, and it's all kicked off with a brutal death.
Even Dorothy's friends she meets along the way hinder her just as much as they help. Bringing her down with their problems and desires. All paving the yellow brick way to the Emerald City. The seemingly perfect center to the world of OZ, overseen by a great and powerful wizard. The most obvious case of things not being what they seem, as he is revealed to be nothing more than a normal man, and a conniving one at that. A man that has to be bullied and pushed into even the slightest bit of help. And in the end he reveals the way home has been in her possession from the very beginning of her increasingly pointless journey. One last fuck you from the "good" witch.
Before this I always wondered why Dorothy was so anxious to return home to the bleak dust bowl that is her Kansas home. Why leave the magic and wonder of OZ for a quiet life of poverty and hard work? After seeing OZ in a different light, looking below the surface, I understand. Something isn't right and it's only a matter of time before it continues to grow more and more sinister. I'd get the hell out of there to, with a quick "fuck off" to that piece of shit lion for good measure.
When I first started thinking about this double feature I had no idea what I was going to write. What would I have to say outside of "shit be crazy, yo!"? I never anticipated how different a movie can be with a different frame of mind. Both movies seemed to flow together like two parts of a fitful nights sleep. For me Lynch's movies have always forced me to look a little deeper, just under the surface, to begin to understand them. And applying that to a classic I've seen a million times gave me a whole new experience. A journey between two worlds of dreams and hidden meanings. The strangest part for me was that by the end of this, it didn't really seem all that extreme to watch these back to back. It made sense in some strange way, no matter what's on the surface it's all shit underneath.
- Jacob VonKlingele