David Lynch rarely discusses his work in detail, preferring to allow viewers to bring their own interpretation to enigmatic films like “Lost Highway” and “Mulholland Drive.” As revealed by a 1979 interview with the writer/director, this isn’t a recent phenomenon. UCLA students from a television-production class sought out Lynch to discuss “Eraserhead,” the haunting dreamscape that put him on the map. Lynch, then a fresh-faced 33-year-old just two years removed from his debut feature, is already disarmingly soft-spoken figure we’ve become familiar with in the decades since.
After invoking Lynch’s own description of the film — “a dream of dark and troubling things” — the interviewer asks if he’d like to elaborate. “No,” is his simple reply. “Everybody has something a little different to say,” Lynch continues later. “It’s up to whoever’s writing and whoever’s viewing to make up their own mind about what’s going on, so it wouldn’t do any good for me to say anymore.” He goes on to discuss everything from shooting in Philadelphia, the apparent contrast between his calm demeanor and his bizarre films (“I’m not all that strange, really”) and his increased awareness of how his work might be received in the future. “The next film I make, I’d like to think more about an audience,” Lynch says — something not afforded by the making of “Eraserhead,” which he never thought anyone would actually see.
The highlight, however, has to be the audience reactions to a screening of the film. There are many enthusiastic and befuddled takes, none funnier than the man who says, “I thought it was the ultimate suspense thriller. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did.”