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The Amputee (1974)

 -  Short
5.6
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 2,908 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 6 critic

A double leg amputated woman sits and writes a long meandering letter while her ineffective nurse attempts to attend to her stumps.

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Storyline

In this plotless 5 minute short, Catherine Coulson plays a legless double-amputee who, throughout the film, is going over a letter she is writing. She makes marks on the letter, and we hear a voice-over of her reading through it. The letter is a sort of mini soap opera; she writes about things happening among a group of her acquaintances, about feelings, about who said certain offensive or endearing things. Very quickly, the droning monotony of Coulson's letter becomes a background noise which gets lost in the actions of her nurse, played by David Lynch. Lynch enters after a minute or so in a nurse costume, his hair in a long ponytail flipped over one shoulder. He begins readying his instruments, then unwraps one of Coulson's stumps. He snips away at something in the wound, probably stitches, though it sounds like he's cutting thick wire. He uses a sort of syringe to flush the wound with water and has a rubber ball that works like a turkey baster to suck fluid out of the wound. ... Written by Adam Walter

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Quotes

Woman with amputation to the legs: This isn't what I am telling you. You weren't in the room when Jim said that. And I was. And he really did. He told me that everything was fine between Helen and him. And I knew that even if he didn't say it, that it was true. He knew it then. No one else did. You maybe thought you did but I knew you didn't. And it makes me furious when you tell me I didn't know about Helen. She was my best friend. She even told me about that time she drank gin with you. So maybe now you'll believe me. After ...
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Edited into The Short Films of David Lynch (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A little throwaway short from David Lynch
16 December 2011 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

David Lynch made this short during a troubled time when filming of Eraserhead had come to a stand-still due to lack of funds. He volunteered to make a short film twice as a test for a couple of stocks of black and white videotape that the American Film Institute wished to compare. As a result he made a film called The Amputee twice. Both versions are more or less the same and consist of a woman who is a double-amputee reading aloud to herself the contents of a letter that she has written while a doctor tends one of the stumps on her legs. It ends with the stump gushing blood, the doctor fleeing and the woman completely oblivious.

In truth it isn't very interesting. It's shot in one take with ugly composition. The quality of the videotape is poor in both versions; while the content is a combination of the repulsive with the mundane. It was written and filmed over the course of one day, and it is throwaway stuff that is of limited interest. It's more an example of the director's bizarre humour than anything else. It stars Catherine Coulson who would go on to play the part of The Log Lady in Twin Peaks.


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