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25 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Stands on its own as a great, surreal and dark, short.

Author: Ben Parker ( from Australia
22 April 2004

One of the most disturbing things i've ever seen. The actors in this film, David Lynch's third film technically, but his first narrative film, were never in any other movies - one of them, Father, died a few years ago - it is as if they exist only in the frightening nightmare world of this boy's life, which consists of two dog-like parents who only bark at him with unintelligible sounds, and beat him and rub his face in the urine when he wets the bed, like a puppy. The subject of the film (and if i don't tell you this, it'll make so little sense to you, because its never properly explained in the film) is the boy has no love from his parents, and no grandmother to give him respite from them and comfort him, so he grows one in the attic.

It is a horrifying, brilliant film, which creates an imaginative world very successfully - albeit one you desparately want to escape from as soon as possible, but it does this well at least.

The Lynchian oeuvre is almost fully formed here, right from the start. Little dialogue, atmospheric soundtrack of constant sound effects which you find in Eraserhead, Elephant Man, Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr; impressionistic approach to performance and makeup/costume and sets; the quality of estrangement in the direction, and most importantly there is the union of terrible, twisted darkness and optimistic naivety (developed to the full in Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr).

For Lynch fans, this is a thing to see. Unlike Six Men Getting Sick or The Amputee, this is not just an experiment or an early film of a Director that ruins your impression of them, it stands on its own, irrespective of Lynch's subsequent work (though it also sets the tone for his subsequent narrative work) as a great surrealist/impressionist narrative short.

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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Interesting forerunner to Eraserhead

Author: Michael_Cronin from Sydney, Australia
19 October 2003

Long-time Lynch collaborator Jack Nance once said that watching The Grandmother was like spending half an hour in the electric chair. Mixing live action (both colour and black & white) with animation, along with a dark & unsettling soundscape created by Alan Splet (still Lynch's sound designer today, three decades later), the film is an intensely disturbing experience.

The Grandmother deals with the story of a boy, abused by his brutal, animal-like parents, who grows himself a kindly grandmother in the attic.

Although it does suffer from a certain 'student film' feeling, this half-hour short is a must-see for all fans of David Lynch, particularly those who admire the stark & surreal world of Eraserhead. One can definitely see the genesis of Lynch's next film within it.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant neo-surrealism

Author: Chase Spivey ( from los angeles, california
20 December 2002

This film is a must-see for anyone interested in the world of surreal cinema. Combines fascinating visual metaphor with rich, vivid animation to create a disturbing ambience that draws the viewer in, like a fish caught on a hook. The music (provided by a collective of music engineers known as "Tractor") is like a grey canopy that wraps itself over your mind as you find that time and space and your life outside of a cold, flickering living room seem to fade into this backdrop of radioactive multimedia. Make no mistake about it, Lynch is an artist of the highest calibur, and in this gripping work he uses everything in the film as a medium to transmit his imagination to the outside world.

P.S. - If you like Lynch's style, I suggest looking into the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Bunuel & Jean Cocteau. All of them brilliant artists in their medium.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD: One of the greatest short films in existence

Author: Avant-garde_Addict from USA
29 July 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

David Lynch's The Grandmother is a 34-minute-long experimental nightmare. The absurdly dark, ominous visuals suggest the film is set inside a madman's nightmare, though it actually refers to the nuclear American family gone horribly wrong. Dialogue-free except for primal grunting and barking, The Grandmother is carried solely through dramatic acting and striking visuals. The soundtrack is cramped with white noise such as discordant grating, creaking and droning that compliments the already disturbing atmosphere. Lynch mixes hand-drawn animation with live-action in an effort to create a world as disturbing as it is surreal.

The film's four characters remain nameless, appearing to be generic symbols.

The Boy, whom the narrative centers on, is neglected and abused by his parents who treat him like an unwanted nuisance. They literally bark, growl, and crawl on all fours, symbolizing their distance from being human. All of the actors are caked with white powder makeup that causes their skin to glow brightly amidst the ultra-high contrast photography. The Boy's only attire is a black tuxedo with a bow tie, which combined with his solemn, pain-stricken face suggests he is attending an eternal funeral. Perhaps the Boy is dressed for his own funeral, because his life appears to be 'dead' on a symbolic level. The Father always wears a stained, moth-eaten white undershirt with equally dreadful boxer shorts. The photography is so high contrast that you often only see the Boy's stark white face and hands 'floating' around the pitch black background. On the opposite spectrum, the Father's bright clothes appear to jump out of the darkness, making his presence dominant and obvious.

Despite the abstractness of The Grandmother, several themes appear evident. The Boy expresses the loneliness and pain that accompanies a household with abusive and neglectful parents. The Grandmother character, who the Boy secretly grows from a plant-like seed in the attic, symbolizes warmth and comfort. The Boy both figuratively and literally 'grows' a parental figure, comparing the growth of love to that of a plant. The Boy's actions suggest that love should be treated like growing a plant: you first plant the seed, then nurture it until it matures into something full and complete.

After much attention and care, the Boy's plant grows into a massive, pulsating cocoon out of which the Grandmother crawls from, fully clothed and aged. The Boy and Grandmother immediately embrace and offer each other much-needed comfort. His world seems brighter for the time being, but his living nightmare is far from over. Ultimately, nothing lasts forever, as this film appears to suggest.

The Grandmother is highly recommended for fans of the avant-garde, or anyone looking for something different. If you thought Eraserhead was Lynch's darkest and weirdest film, wait until you see this small miracle.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Another nightmare from David Lynch

Author: preppy-3 from United States
15 September 2006

Sick, disturbing and surreal short from David Lynch. A man and a woman get married and have a son who they don't really want. The child grows up being horribly abused by his parents. Then, in a dark sinister room, he plants a seed who sprouts into a grandmother. She, in a way, shows him the affection his parents never gave him. There's more but I won't spoil it.

The film mixes live actors with animation seamlessly. It has sound but no dialogue--the actors just make sounds somewhat like human speech. It's in washed-out color which certainly fits the subject matter. Also you see Lynch using odd noises on the soundtrack which he perfected years later with "Eraserhead". I'm giving this film a 10 but it is VERY disturbing. It's definitely not for everybody. The abuse scenes are horrible to watch and the nonstop morbidness did start to wear on me, but I couldn't stop watching. It all leads to a very sad ending. Sick, troubling and (at times) horrifying movie but just incredible. A 10 but only for those who can stand extreme subject matter.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Powerful and real look of childhood

Author: Tony L. Barbur ( from USA
31 May 2001

No matter how cynical you make think this film is, it is very realistic in what our world looks like as children. Dysfunctional families are all around us and we experience neglect very often. A child's point of view of course, is always exaggerated. I can relate to some of what is shown in "The Grandmother." Throughout my childhood my grandmother was the only person i could turn to. My parents talk, and their life during my childhood was very blurred to me. And the horrifying things that happen are more horrifying than they really are as a child. Lynch may have imaged this film out of nowhere, but it still speaks. The use of sound, and animation is powerfully effective. This is a must for Lynch fans!

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Like waking up from a strange nightmare!

Author: NateManD from Bloomsburg PA
12 August 2005

"The Grandmother" has got to be one of the strangest works of David Lynch next to "Eraserhead". In order to get the film made, Lynch got a grant from the American Film Institute. Too bad AFI doesn't fund amazing films like this anymore. In some aspects the film looks like it had a huge influence on "Begotten" (1991), except "The Grandmother" is only about 34 minutes and never wears out it's welcome. The story concerns a boy, who has very mean and abusive parents. They act like animals and only talk in barks. The little boy is very pale and Gothic looking, and almost all the film's sets are painted pitch black in darkness. This causes images to pop right out. The boy plants seeds in his bed, a huge abstract stump like object grows and gives birth to an old lady. The old lady seems to give the boy peace of mind, like a grandmother would. It's really hard to tell the exact story, since the film feels like a surreal nightmare that leaves the viewer disoriented. The music and experimental sound mix sounded way ahead of 1970. This only added more impact to it's disturbing imagery. Not to mention, it had some weird animated scenes too. From all the movies I've seen, I'd have to say the best examples of surrealism in film have to be Bunuel and Dali's "Un Chien Andalou", Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" (1973) and David Lynch's "The Grandmother". All three of these films have images that will probably haunt you for the rest of your life.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Cinematography all the way

Author: kyra (kyra-6) from amsterdam
15 November 2003

This film is a lesson. A lesson on how you can, with minor means,

create a work which explores all ways of cinematography. And this

without any dialogue. In my idea films are not there to tell a story

(they can be used as such tough) and this movie goes straight

back to the time where films were shown at carnivals and gave you

a glimpse of new worlds to be explored. Don't worry too much about the (lack of) narritive story. Just sit back

and enjoy the huge amount of emotions that will come to you.

Fear, hatred, love and desire for a better world.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

an exciting, bizarre-bravura turn of pushing-the-boundaries-of cinema

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
12 June 2006

The Grandmother, like other surreal short films (and, of course, like the rest of Lynch's work), is not that concerned with logic, at least in conventional terms. If there is anything at all conventional about the the film is that it has at its core that small statement on youth and innocence that can be interpreted a hundred ways to Sunday- if you're lonely and dejected you'll look for companionship. It's just that in this case the conventional wisdom of finding someone at the playground or at school is bypassed- here the boy, in isolation from his barking, mad parents, plants and grows a grandmother to spend time with. But is it all as it should be? Lynch, much as he did with Eraserhead, leaves so much up to interpretation that on a first viewing it's almost not even necessary to find something coherent in what goes on. But in that sense, of course, many will likely be befuddled, disturbed, and maybe even offended at the lack of typical cohesion from start to finish.

What it does provide, however, is a kind of cinema experience that has to be felt, seen, heard, taken in as cinema on the technical and artistic side of things always goes. Even when I didn't know what was "going on" with the boy and his grandmother and parents, I didn't mind as long as I knew Lynch was doing something with the camera or lighting or editing or music or animation or all of the above to make it a visceral experience. Yes, there are some tedious moments here and there (which, even in being a 35 minute short film, are possibly more so than the ones in Eraserhead), yes the first two to three minutes takes some time to adjust to, and yes there ending is left about as ambiguous as can be. But it shook me up all the same, like the best parts of 90's music videos. Any time, for example, that Lynch used a sort of stop-motion technique during the live action I was thrilled in a way. The animated sequences have a crude quality that could only be matched by Gilliam's Python animations. And the actors (or maybe just pieces) in Lynch's macabre framing and set ups and pay off seem all perfect for the parts.

If you're already a fan coming on to this DVD set of Lynch short films, this may or may not come as the most eccentric, wonderfully outrageous of the lot of them; it could also be for some the most 'huh' of all of the films as it is the longest and with the most density in the surrealism. It is the mark, interested in it or not, of an artist leaving something out for a good look and soak into what it is or could be or is lacking. Grade: A

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:


Author: DocEmmettBrown from London, UK
26 June 2001

This is a very odd, and rather disturbing short. If you're not into Lynch then give it a wide birth, even if you are, then approach with caution. The story concerns itself with an unhappy boy who grows a grandmother. Well, that's all I could work out anyway. The rest of the film is filled with bed wetting, barking parents, and bizarre animations. Everything is in disturbingly garish colours (generally deep blue), and there isn't a single line of dialogue. See this if you're a die-hard Lynch fan or if you're a budding experimental film maker. If, however, you found Eraserhead too weird then steer well clear.

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