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The Grandmother

February 11, 2012

I thought it would be a bad idea to watch David Lynch’s The Grandmother again. I first watched it in a short film class in college, and decided on that very day that it was the most frightening movie I had ever seen. The sound effects were chilling, the imagery was nightmarish. However, I also remembered it had inspired parts of the thesis project that I was working on that semester. And in the months since I’ve last watched it, The Grandmother has entered my mind on a fairly regular basis. So on Thursday I was discussing disturbing movie moments with my boyfriend. While he was justifying his claim that the ant/scorpion combat scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids takes the cake, I could only think of The Grandmother. Getting home that night, I felt compelled to watch it, but it was dark and I was alone. I pushed it off for a few days, but finally got around to watching it again today.

The Short Films of David Lynch

Come here and give Grandma a kiss!

I will admit, I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to David Lynch’s filmography. I’ve seen Eraserhead and a few episodes of Twin Peaks, and even a minute or two of Dune, but that’s the extent of my expertise. From what I learned, though, Lynch made The Grandmother while attending college in 1970. The film focuses on a boy and his abusive parents, and the loving grandmother he decides to grow from a whistling seed he finds in his attic. Darkness obscures weird things lurking about the boy’s house, and his animalistic parents can only make a strange barking sound (that’s what scared me the most about this film the first time around. The audio is really what makes this movie). The protagonist is the boy, born from a puddle of black bile during the ritualistic stop-motion mating dance of his parents in the opening scene of the film. The parents are young, drunk, self-absorbed, and negligent towards their son, who seems sweet, kind and caring, despite the fact that the film lacks any dialogue.

The limited color in the film makes everything seem a little more foreboding, to the point where even the joy that the boy and his freshly-grown grandmother share seems darkened. The grandmother, birthed from a giant plant, gives the boy what his parents do not, a safe-haven from the abuse. The real story here though, is about childhood escapism, and the power of love in overcoming horror.

After watching the film for the second time, I guess it was a little less frightening, but we’ll have to see how I feel when the lights go out tonight. Yeah, I’m a wuss. Even reading the description for Mulholland Drive gives me the heebie-jeebies. I mean, David Lynch seems like a nice enough guy, but I guess I just wouldn’t want him to cook me dinner.

Watch it here

Picture courtesy of http://www.dangerousminds.net

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