Thursday 30 December 2010

Eraserhead movie review

Eraserhead - 1976
Director - David Lynch

1) Eraserhead poster

Plot summary / review:

"No plot summary can do justice to the unsettling experience of watching Eraserhead for the first time. Confounding, hysterical and almost unendurably tense, it leaves viewers as disoriented as Henry himself." (Bitel, 2008). Aptly put by Anton Bitel, Eraserhead is one of those films the audience must endure, with its disturbing visuals and haunting soundtrack, it will have a lasting psychological and physical affect on the viewer.

The plot is relatively simple in broad terms. Henry Spencer (John Nance) works as a printer in an undisclosed time, but seemingly post apocalyptic, industrialised world. Surrounded by bland buildings, heavy machinery and smoke spewing chimneys, Henry returns home to his cell like apartment.

2) Henry Spencer.

After checking his empty mail box, Henry is greeted by his mysterious but beautiful neighbour (Judith Roberts), who informs him that Henry's girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) left him an invitation to have dinner at her parents house that night. Henry attends and events get even more peculiar, not only because of the artificial salad and moving chicken carcass' served for dinner, but sexual tension between Henry and Mary's mother and her strange family.

3) Family dinner.

It is revealed that Henry and Mary had pre-marital sex and she has in turn given birth to a mutated baby. Henry is forced to marry Mary and move her and the baby into his one bedroom apartment. The agonising cry of the deformed baby takes it's toll on them both. Henry becomes more distant and falls deeper into his dreams and Mary eventually walks out on him and the child.

4) Baby

Henry becomes more erratic, falling deeper into his dreams and subconscious. After consorting with his beautiful neighbour, his dreams become more powerful, imagining a lady in the radiator singing on a stage, his head falling off replaced by the deformed baby's and the most iconic eraser pencils made from his decapitated head.

5) Lady in the radiator

The film comes to a gruesome end with Henry stabbing the baby after apparently cackling at him when he sees his neighbour seducing another man. The baby's insides spew and guzzle over electrical wires causing a blackout. Returning to the start of the film, a man on a rocky planet pulling levers is electrocuted and Henry is seen embracing the Lady in the radiator.

6) Man in the planet.

Lynch has created a cult classic full of symbolism and metaphors, in fact it is so jam packed it is down right strange and confusing. The whole film feels like an experiment, a way for Lynch to explore his own anxieties through his first full length feature. Weather he intended it to be or not, it opens up the film to multiple interpretations on the fear of commitment, relationships, fatherhood, adultery, sexual intercourse..... the list goes on. "There is certainly a strong sexual undercurrent combined with the trappings of commitment in relationships. But while there are some stark and shocking moments, they're floating in an undisciplined exercise in experimentation." (Haflidason, 2001).

Lynch reportedly spent six years making this movie proving it to be a real labour of love. As strange and as hard as it is to follow, he succeeded in creating memorable, often shocking images and sounds which stay with you after the credits have rolled, for all the wrong reasons. It is a triumph in the exploration of the subconscious and inner mind, delivered in a Salvador Dali'esque inspired vision. "‘Eraserhead’ is a singular work of the imagination, a harrowing, heartbreaking plunge into the darkest recesses of the soul." (Andrew, 2006).


Andrew, Geoff. Timeout movie review 26th January 2006 - accessed 30/12/10

Bitel, Anton. Film4 movie review 3rd September 2008 - accessed 30/12/10

Haflidason, Almar. BBC movie review 17 April 2001 - accessed 30/12/10


1) Eraserhead poster - accessed 30/12/10

2) Henry - accessed 30/12/10

3) Family dinner - accessed 30/12/10

4) Baby - accessed 30/12/10

5) Lady in the radiator - accessed 30/12/10

6) Man in the planet - accessed 30/12/10

Santa Hat

Santa wants his hat back.

Creating Fur

Step 1. Assigning preset fur to a nurbs plane.

Bear preset fur with no shadows.

Bear preset fur with shadows.

Bison preset fur.

Porcupine preset fur.

Sheep preset fur.

Step 2. Blending fur presets.

Bear / Bison 50% blend.

Bear / Bison / Sheep / Porcupine 25% blend.

Step 3. Lighting and self shading Polar bear preset.

Step 4. Controlling baldness and density.

Step 5. Using maps and creating custom fur.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Final Idea / thumbnail developments

Here is a work in progress of one of my ideas I am developing from my thumbnails. I really like the idea of a make up desk scattered with some photos and personal possessions with a mirror reflecting the rest of the room. The idea is to model the wall, desk, desk mirror, drama masks and other possessions in Maya and the reflection will be the matte painting in Photoshop. The final shot won't be as close to the desk as depicted here and will include more of the room surrounding the desk, I will post this sketch again when complete but would like to know what peoples thoughts are at this stage....

Environment Thumbnails

Here are my remaining thumbnails with some blurb on my thought process:

I am basing my scene in a room with little possessions in it, but I want it to feel like it is in the process of being decorated, unfinished for some reason but people are, or were living in it.

I've been thinking about the layout of the room with some close ups of the walls and the kind of textures on the walls. I may include a staircase as they inherently have a sense of looming and are quite dark and eerie. I really like the idea of the make up mirror reflecting the rest of the room. The drama masks are to symbolise the occupants possessions and also give it an uncanny feel.

Some more make up mirror / desk shots. Also playing with the idea of back lit doorways and window frames and how the illuminate the rooms. Also thinking about how I  frame the shot, obscure angles looking through doors, giving the audience glimpses into the rooms of the occupants. I like the idea of looking through from an outside window, very much like Edward Hoppers' pieces.

I am going to take some of these ideas and refine them in larger thumbnails.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Repulsion - Movie review

Repulsion - 1965
Director - Roman Polanski

1) Repulsion UK movie poster

Plot Summary / Review:

Carol Ledoux (Catherine Deneuve) is a beautiful but somewhat emotionally distant Belgian girl living in London with her sister, Helen (Yvonne Furneaux). Working as a beautician she absent mindedly wanders the streets of London, ogled by working and upper class men alike.

2) Carol

At the start of the film, Carol is pursued by an English gentlemen Colin, (John Fraser) desperate to go on a date with her, she seemingly fights her urges but does agree to go on a date with him. She returns home to find Helen's lovers razor and toothbrush in her glass, another male which she seems to find repulsive. Helen's lover Michael (Ian Hendry) is in fact a married man which could explain Carol's unfriendly approach to him,  not helped in an especially awkward scene where she has to lay in bed listening to them making love next door. "Polanski never turns his film into a misogynist binge: the men she meets are far from sympathetically portrayed, and we are led to understand her fear and revulsion by the surreal expressionism used to portray her mental state." Andrew, 2006.

Helen and Michael decide to go to Italy for a holiday, leaving Carol in the apartment by herself. It's in her solitude that Carol's mental health begins to deteriorate and Polanski embellishes the audience with haunting symbolism. A rabbit carcass intended to be cooked by Carol but forgotten about is infested with flys and mould, horrific nightmare sequences where Carol is raped and stalked in the flat. The apartment itself begins to crack and crumble around her and comes alive with hands jumping out from the walls, groping and reaching her, symbolising her fragile mind and fear of sexual contact. "Mr. Polanski builds a towering drama with a skillful mesh of incidental stimuli. The dressed carcass of a rabbit on a platter becomes a monstrous symbol as the picture goes along. Small cracks in the walls of the apartment flow into crunching indicators of the heroine's crumbling mind." Crowther, 1965.

3) Cracked mind

4) Groping walls

5) Hallway hands

Carol falls deeper into madness, daydreaming at work, cutting a client and ultimately being fired. She distances herself further from society, disconnecting the phone after taking a call from Michaels wife intended for her adulterous sister. Colin goes to the apartment concerned for her well being. After breaking down the door, Carol kills him with a candle holder, dragging his lifeless body into the bath tub.

6) Colin and Carol

The Landlord, chasing payment for the apartment, lets himself into the flat and interprets Carols scantily clad appearance as a sexual invitation. Carol slashes him to death with Michaels razor and leaves him to die underneath the over turned sofa. Helen and Michael return from their holiday and find the bloody mess and Helen underneath the bed in a trance like state. They call the police and seemingly carry her off to the mental hospital.

Polanski never directly tells the audience but heavily suggests that Carol was the subject of some form of child abuse, poignantly advocated in the final shot of a family photograph of Carol as a child looking away from the men in the picture. Polanski has delivered a true classic which is both a psychological thriller and a horror film, in many ways superior to other horror films of the times, namely Alfred Hitchcocks "Psycho". "Hitchcock ends the film (Pyscho) with a lecture on why Norman is mad, but Polanski just closes in on a family photograph to drop hints about the roots of the blonde angel’s insanity."  Newman, 2007.


Andrew, Geoff. Time Out review 9th February 2006 Accessed 11/12/10

Crowther, Bosley. New York Times review 4th October 1965 Accessed 11/12/10

Newman, Kim. Empire magazine review 21st September 2007 Accessed 11/12/10


1) Repulsion Poster - accessed 11/12/10

2) Carol - accessed 11/12/10

3) Cracked Mind - accessed 11/12/10

4) Groping walls - accessed 11/12/10

5) Hallway hands - accessed 11/12/10

6) Colin and Carol - accessed 11/12/10

Saturday 11 December 2010

The Tenant - Movie review

The Tenant - 1976
Director - Roman Polanski

1) The Tenant Movie Poster

Plot Summary / review:

Trelkovsky is somewhat of an introvert and a pushover. A foreigner living in Paris, feeling isolated and disconnected he never complains or sticks up for himself when given horrible hot chocolate to drink or when a beggar hustles him for all of his money. He rents an apartment in a tall, gloomy block of flats, discovering the previous tenant attempted suicide by jumping out of the window. Before he secures the property, he visits the previous Tenant, Simeone, heavily bandaged in hospital and he meets her friend Stella.

2) The Tenant - Trelkovsky

3) Stella and Trelkovsky

Trelkovsky and Stella begin to date and Simeone unfortunately dies, allowing him to move into the apartment. The atmosphere gets more claustrophobic as we meet more of the residents. The Monsieur Zy is unyielding and rude, the Landlord is suspicious and nosy and the other tenants always complain about the slightest of noises. Trelkovsky begins to suspect the residents are plotting against him sending him into paranoia with nightmarish visions. He becomes so erratic, he believes the residents are trying to turn him into Simeone, he finds some of her old clothes and dons a wig and make-up, falling deeper into madness. "That 'The Tenant' works so well is because it's not strictly about madness, though that is its narrative form. It's about emotional isolation that has become physical. The forces that occupy Trelkovsky's mind were invited in by him, the outsider." Canby, 1976.

4) Cross dressing

Eventually he succumbs to his own paranoia, throwing himself out of the same window as Simeone, not once, but twice. In an eerie ending, Trelkovsky ends up in the same hospital bed wrapped in similar bandages again. He awakes to find what could be the next tenant, meeting Stella and the whole process starts again.

5) End scene

The Tenant is a strange a film, so peculiar it is quite hard to follow, but it does succeed in developing an atmospheric, sinister tone. "Frustratingly, because so much of the film is so odd, little is ever explained. But the macabre tone and eerie appearance (thanks to Ingmar Bergman's cinematographer Sven Nykvist) mark it out as an intriguing depiction of mental breakdown built round a dark comic performance by the director himself." Filmfour, 2003. The Tenant is the third film in Polanski's 'Apartment' trilogy and has similar themes, for example the sinister neighbours from 1968's "Rosemary's Baby" and the gradual breakdown of Carol from 1965's "Repulsion". The film and subject matter (madness / paranoia and isolation) is something obviously deeply resonate to Polanski, possibly the motivation for casting himself as the main character Trelkovsky. "A difference is that Polanski casts himself in the central role, constantly having to deny that he’s a foreigner, suggesting this is an even more personal, painful film." Newman, 2010.


Canby, Vincent. Ne
w York Times Review 21st June 1976 accessed 11/12/10

FilmFour review 24th May 2003 accessed 11/12/10

Newman, Kim. 
Empire Magazine review 18th February 2010 Accessed 11/12/10


1) The Tenant movie poster - accessed 11/12/10

2) Trelkovsky - Accessed 11/12/10

3) 3) Stella and Trelkovsky Accessed 11/12/10

4) Cross Dressing - Accessed 11/12/10

5) End scene - Accessed 11/12/10

Thursday 9 December 2010

Life Drawing Week 12

Week 11 Life drawing was cancelled due to the snow. Here are week 12's drawings.

2 x 10 minute pencil, no brief.

5 x 1 minute superhero poses, pencil, no brief.

2 x 15 minute, pencil, no brief.

Close up.