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29 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Another Phobia Envisioned by David Lynch

Author: jodiac from Lexington, KY
29 May 2002

David Lynch says this film was an attempt at visualizing the "fear of learning." In it, a young girl is tortured by the alphabet in a competely abstract nightmare. Lynch has always been fascinated by the darker side of dreams, the seemingly nonsensical black procession of symbols and fears, and this film simply adds another phobia to the canon.

We are shown images of a head with information going in one side, and this eventually causes the head to erupt into a black mess. Lynch juxtaposes the most innocent of subjects (the alphabet), which usually marks the beginning of our schooling, with disconcerting images of blood and vomit. Disturbing? Yes. Lynch apparently formed the idea after hearing of a girl who was found reciting the alphabet during a nightmare.

On a more profound level, the film examines a fear that perhaps appears for most later in life: the dread of knowledge. There's quite a bit of truth to the oft-repeated line "ignorance is bliss." Gradually, we realize that the more we learn, the less we understand, and therefore, the less control we have over our situations. It's a problem that has vexed people since the conception of "science." We ask questions out of curiosity, find there are no accessible answers, create a religious penumbra that satisfies a great deal with a few simple passages, and then science comes along and we are confronted once again with the inconsistencies of our faith. Thus, we fear that which turns the rock-solid black and whites of our existence to a confused mass of gray.

Also, The Alphabet hints at what linguists and intellectuals and songwriters have known for centuries; words are wholly inadequate to describe even the simplest of human perceptions. And once one has etched that list of letters into one's mind, in a sense, there is no turning back. Life becomes shapes patterned on paper, and conceptions of reality will no longer be formed purely and internally; they are immediately attached to an imperfect language and remained tethered to that which will never truly suffice.

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Art as horror

Author: Stephen-12 from London, England
6 August 1999

Lynch's first film is a bizarre, revolting and terrifying account of a bedridden young girl apparently being tortured by the alphabet. The letters appear as weird, threatening shapes which (as in his follow-up The Grandmother) seem to take on plant form. The girl herself eventually vomits blood.

The film's meaning isn't clear, and is really of less important than the visuals, which are themselves like moving paintings. The innocence of the child's 'ABC' rhyming song is warped to give a frighteningly naive background to the horrific events.

Lynch's trademark is the expression of fear, and this short foregrounds that motif in the most disturbing way imaginable. Fans of this director should try and catch his debut, as it casts its shadow over much of his later work.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Frightening imagery

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
26 September 2004

Based on an actual event, Lynch's niece had a nightmare where she recited the alphabet in her sleep, this film is basically the same thing, with a young woman reciting the alphabet in her sleep while we see nightmarish imagery.

Its an interesting piece with truly frightening images. Unfortunately the animation isn't all that spectacular, consisting of animated drawings. Its a good piece that mostly works and shows the seeds of the later Eraserhead.

If you come across one of the short film videos of Lynch's early work this film, and one or two others, makes it worth renting.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Disturbing animated short shows Lynch had it from the beginning.

Author: Ben Parker ( from Australia
22 April 2004

This was the first time David Lynch shot live-action footage. It isn't really a narrative film, like The Grandmother, but its more than a filmed moving painting like Six Men Getting Sick. It is mainly animation, truth be told, but it combines live action with it. This is what a child's nightmare looks like inside David Lynch's head - and let me tell you, its quite disturbing, on a par with Grandmother and Eraserhead.

Some of its images, like the girl bleeding from the mouth and reciting the alphabet - i can't get out of my head. I don't know if that's a good thing... Lynch is a very strange man, indeed. And what we get in his films isn't half the story, as members of his website will tell you. There are images there that you wouldn't even know to be wary of, to not think about - images you don't even know to protect yourself from. But as Elephant Man showed us, he is also a master director, who can control himself and a major production to perfection. As Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Mulholland Dr showed us, Lynch's world can also be lots of fun. He's one of my favourite filmmakers because he gives me both fun AND haunting in the same frame - a feat not many can do.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Downright horrifying

Author: preppy-3 from United States
15 September 2006

VERY weird short by David Lynch. It's in black and white and shows a girl who looks like she's going completely mad while the letters of the alphabet go flying around her. She also sings that alphabet song.

I should have expected something weird from Lynch but this is even stranger than I thought it could be. In 4 short minutes he gives you a morbid and disturbing little story about the alphabet and terror. It doesn't make a bit of sense but the imagery is so strange and the sound so odd that you're pulled right in. Basically a short little horror film. You can see where "Eraserhead" came from. Worth seeing but only for those who don't scare easily. An 8.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Your a weird one Mr. Lynch! (and that's a complement)

Author: NateManD from Bloomsburg PA
12 August 2005

"The Alphabet" is a really bizarre experimental film short from David Lynch. It contains images that nightmares are made of. Many strange and abstract objects give birth to the letters of the alphabet. There is many creepy sound effects that give this little short film's imagery a strange hallucinatory and hypnotic feel. I could definitely see a Salvadore Dali influence during the film's animated scenes. David Lynch's former wife Peggy than sings the alphabet song against a black background. Wow, the alphabet song has never sounded more horrifying! It's like a preschooler's worst fears caught on film. If you can find a copy of David Lynch's short films, you won't be disappointed. There's no doubt about it, David Lynch is an artist who comes up with some of the most amazing nightmarish imagery.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: Erich M ( from Madison, WI USA
23 December 2002

This avant garde piece miraculously comes off without being cliché or dismissible (as is so common with artsy avant garde film). Peggy Lynch (I'm assuming is his daughter) goes through a sequence of harrowing events that had some connection with the alphabet. I particularly liked the bed-wetting and the dirt. The person I watched this with said the dirt looked very "inviting." I strangely agreed. Only Lynch could make dirt inviting. Very interesting work. 8/10

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Pretty Freaking Weird, Or Weirdly Freaking Pretty

Author: gavin6942 from United States
21 February 2010

David Lynch's earliest work... a short film that somehow involves a girl (Peggy Lynch) and the alphabet, and what seems to be the most screwed-up nightmare anyone could ever possibly imagine. What inspires this sort of thing? I have no idea.

The film has been called "avant garde", and I really can't think of a better classification. I'd say something a bit more vulgar, but I won't. One reviewer said this film is what should have been on the tape in "The Ring", and I think that's a fine suggestion. This could scare the pants off of many people.

If you've seen Lynch's films, and I recommend pretty much all of them, you know he's capable of some messed-up imagery. I mean, the ear in "Blue Velvet"? Or all of "Lost Highway"? Crazy weird. But after you see this early work, you'll understand that Lynch has been weird for over forty years...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Who would've thought that reciting the alphabet could be so disturbing...

Author: Red-Barracuda from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
16 December 2011

The second of David Lynch's films, The Alphabet, is a significant progression from his debut Six Men Getting Sick. Where the latter was a short piece of static animation, The Alphabet incorporates stop-motion and live action alongside the animated sequences. It's a much more interesting film that achieves an undoubted nightmarish mood.

Its genesis was a story Lynch's wife Peggy told him. She had witnessed her young niece experience a nightmare. In a little bed in a darkened room her niece recounted the alphabet in her tormented sleep. From this story Lynch devised a short film that approximates the feeling of a nightmare, one specifically where the fear connected with learning is the source of the unease. There is an alphabet song the like of which would be sung in schools, but removed into this context seems very disturbing. This is probably the first example of Lynch taking a seemingly harmless everyday thing and making it sinister with well chosen associative images and sounds. Indeed this is also the first time that the director utilises sound to disquieting effect, something he would become a master of. Here, we have not only the alphabet song sung by Peggy but also distorted baby crying. The latter being a recording he made of his daughter Jennifer that was corrupted because the tape recorder was faulty. But it was a mistake that produced a result the director loved, and it is indeed a disturbing sound that accentuates the mood perfectly. The Alphabet works often on a subconscious level but it does have a central core idea derived from the alphabet dream that is visualised here. A girl with a white face in a bed in a darkened room experiences the terror of the dream and ends up hemorrhaging blood all over her white night gown and bed sheets. It's a disturbing image but it represents a reaction to the forced learning that initiated the dream in the first place.

With this film Lynch moved forward in an important way. It's the first time where his dark sensibility was used in a way that approximated the mood of a nightmare.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Start from the beginning... of The Alphabet

Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
10 February 2006

This was set off the basic thematic elements of Lynch's oeuvre. Psychosubconscious horror imagery involving blood, sex, and rich textures of malaise. What's different about this is that it actually goes further, into a child's realm of disturbing imagery, which can be even more disturbing because thinking of Lynch dealing with children is kind of appalling--The Straight Story aside.

I think it's probably my favorite short of his, though, considering that it so well mixes everything in animation, stop motion, and real motion, and that overall it's quite adept at forcing you to think about all those children's shows that involve alphabet songs and alphabet animations dancing around, and how a lot of that stuff can be very disconcerting and bizarre if really looked at.

Furthermore, I believe it's probably one of his best uses of sound. Lynch is a genius at making sound affect imagery beyond levels that most directors use, and while the sound in this short are much more self-conscious and much more apparent than the underlying growling of most of his work, it's a lot more effective.


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