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Filmotomy Christmas Advent Calendar 2018 – Day 16

Carving the Bird

Ah yes, that wonderful cheerful holiday season film, Eraserhead. Okay, not exactly a Christmas film and hardly one you would want to sit down with all the family and watch just before Christmas dinner. Still, Eraserhead has one of the best scenes that depicts carving a bird in all of cinema.

Eraserhead 6

It’s a truly surreal scene in which Henry (John Nance) has an unusual dinner with his girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stewart) and her parents. What seems like an ordinary situation for most of us, is given the David Lynch treatment, resulting in a scene from a bad acid trip. Mary’s father presents Henry with the honor of carving up the small chickens for the table, handing Henry a unnecessarily large knife.

”Do I cut them like regular chickens?” Henry asks before proceeding the cut into the bird. The use of sound and imagery here makes the scene almost unbearable to watch, that close-up of the fork going into the chicken which immediately oozes blood onto the pristine white plate, makes even those with the strongest of stomachs, shudder. Alarmingly, the bird’s legs move and things get stranger when Mary’s mother begins speaking in tongues, before leaving the room in a frenzy. Mary’s father seems unmoved by any of this, ”She’ll be alright in a minute.”

As dinner scenes go; this one is extremely uncomfortable and very memorable, with Lynch’s use of black and white cinematography and Nance’s performance. Just remember when you’re having dinner this Christmas, and think it’s not going to well, just remember you could be having dinner in a David Lynch film!

by Bianca Garner

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