Eraserhead, The David Lynch Files: Volume 1 (paperback)
“An invaluable resource on the making of Eraserhead, Godwin’s book includes interviews with the cast and crew conducted when memories were still fresh.”
- David Lynch & Kristine McKenna, Room to Dream
As a young artist working with minimal resources, aided by a dedicated cast and crew, David Lynch spent four-and-a-half years making his first feature. The result was a completely unique, darkly comic nightmare called Eraserhead. Carefully nurtured by distributor Libra Films, Eraserhead gradually developed a passionate audience despite a very mixed response from critics. It took four years for the film to reach Winnipeg, Canada, but when it finally did it took hold of writer Kenneth George Godwin’s imagination. Determined to understand the nature of the film’s power, Godwin wrote the first in-depth analysis of Eraserhead. That essay led to a commission to write an article forthe magazine Cinefantastique. For the first time, the secretive Lynch agreed to tell the full story of the film’s production.
Gathered together in this volume are the original essay, the complete, unedited production history, and full transcripts of all the interviews Godwin conducted with Lynch himself and members of the cast and crew of Eraserhead.
“Among the commentaries which Eraserhead has inspired, it is worth mentioning George Godwin’s most interesting comments ... a must for the Lynchmaniac”
- Michel Chion, David Lynch
“David Lynch’s first work has become a cult film, but its bizarre imagery has never before received a cogent interpretation” - Film Quarterly
Shock Cinema says:
The first time I saw ERASERHEAD was at a packed college screening in early 1979, and I wound up sitting through this intense, baffling, oddly humorous, and uniquely unforgettable work of art several times during its semester-long run of midnight shows. Author Kenneth George Godwin begins this fascinating 256-page book recalling his own initial encounter with ERASERHEAD, and how his essay on the film led to in-person interviews with David Lynch in 1981 and a lengthy making-of article for the Fall 1984 edition of Cinefantastique, which is reprinted here. That’s followed by Godwin’s unedited interviews, which were incorporated into his article, including four separate talks with Lynch — filling 80 pages of this book — discussing everything from the filmmaker’s early days in Philadelphia, his passion for Bob’s Big Boy, working a paper route during breaks in ERASERHEAD’s stop-and-start production, and potential future projects such as DUNE and RED DRAGON. There are also numerous conversations with cast and crew members, including Jack Nance (“Henry Spencer”); Laurel Near (“Lady in the Radiator”); Jack Fisk (“Man in the Planet”); assistant director and future “Log Lady” Catherine Coulson; production manager Doreen Small; cinematographer Frederick Elmes; sound editor Alan Splet; and even brief interviews with distributor Ben Barenholz and Mel Brooks (who hired Lynch for THE ELEPHANT MAN). Stuffed with insightful anecdotes and amusing trivia — from Nance’s entire wardrobe coming from Goodwill, to Lynch actually living on the set for Henry’s room — it’s an essential acquisition for any true fans of this mind-blowing film... Godwin’s next Lynch book takes a very different yet altogether engrossing approach. In early 1983, Godwin was suddenly hired by Universal (at David Lynch’s personal request!) to drive down to Mexico and spend the next six months documenting the making of DUNE. This 316-page book primarily consists of Godwin’s original journal entries, which follows an inexperienced 28-year-old guy from Canada as he’s tossed into the maelstrom of one of the most expensive movies of the era, and often winds up being less about the actual filmmaking process than the absurdity and chaos which transpired throughout this fabulous, bloated boondoggle. Although there were certainly lots of enjoyable moments — attending dinners and parties with the cast and crew, hanging out with Jack Nance, and occasional conversations with Lynch — Godwin also chronicles the boredom, exhaustion, depression, intestinal issues, corporate bullshit, grueling schedules, equipment problems, abrupt crew changes, and our author’s eventual realization that the film may turn out to be “an awful mess.” In the saddest development, although Godwin and accompanying cameraman Anatol Pacanowsky shot hours of behind-the-scenes footage on VHS, all of their work was apparently trashed by the thoughtless studio. In addition to an epilogue containing Godwin’s opinion about the finished DUNE, he includes personal photos surreptitiously taken throughout the production, call sheets, plus a handful of interviews that he managed to save onto audio cassette, including Lynch, Nance, Max von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow, Patrick Stewart, and special effects director John Dykstra. It’s a funny, crazy and extremely enlightening first-hand account of David Lynch’s “magnificent folly.”