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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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Did You Know?

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

An experiment, rather than an experimental film
19 October 2003 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

While at the American Film Institute, David Lynch tested two different types of videotape stock by shooting this strange little piece, featuring Catherine Coulson as an amputee writing a letter, & Lynch as a nurse attending her. Coulson's voiceover details various domestic issues, & she remains oblivious to the fact that she might be bleeding to death while the nurse rushes around frantically, eventually, it seems, abandoning her.

It has been suggested that Lynch deliberately shot both versions badly, so that the Institute wouldn't start replacing film with videotape.

Regardless of whether or not this is true, The Amputee is better viewed as an example of Lynch's warped sense of humour than his skill as a filmmaker, & of what sort of ideas he might come up with for something as simple as a stock test.


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