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22 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

An experiment, rather than an experimental film

Author: Michael_Cronin from Sydney, Australia
19 October 2003

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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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

An intrigue...

Author: mastyrmynd ( from Seattle, WA
3 September 2004

While it is not as deep or impressive as some of Lynch's other works, I believe that this film breaks new ground in terms of camera work and how a scene is put together. I think it is important that this film is shot twice, once to capture the story, the other to capture what is happening. If you view simply the woman, you will grasp what her letter is all about, however, if you view the nurse, you will take in only what the nurse is doing. Viewing it once just staring at the woman, and then again viewing only the nurse gives quite a contrasting look at the same exact picture. It may very well be an experiment only, but the fact that it has this effect is intriguing on its own. Try it yourself!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A little throwaway short from David Lynch

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

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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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

2 versions

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
26 February 2008

Amputee, The (1974) Version 1

*** (out of 4)

Amputee, The (1974) Version 2

** 1/2 (out of 4)

David Lynch's fourth film has a woman (Catherine E. Coulson) with no legs writing a letter to a lover while a nurse (Lynch) does weird things to her stumps. It should come as no shock but here's another very strange film from the director. It's weird because while your ears are listening to what the woman has to say, your eyes never leave her stumps where all sorts of weird things are going on. I'm sure this short will offend many people and it's this offensiveness that makes the film so effective. The goo coming from her stump has to be seen. The second version runs a minute shorter and doesn't appear to have as much being done to her stumps.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


Author: s_aucejo from French Guyana
30 April 2005

David Lynch wrote this short film to test two different types of videotape stock for the American Film Institute.

You can check this out in "The Short films of David Lynch". I found this short extremely intelligent. In "The Short films of David Lynch" it is shown twice, but is not the same action, only the text is the same.

For me, in the first time I just couldn't stop staring at the nurse, who is in the only place on screen where action is happening.

The second time, what she is is "thinking" gets more relevant to the audience, but we find out that it has no connection at all to her legs and to the nurse.

In the end I figured out that I had just watched two different short movies! It's a great feeling for those who like the art of making movies!

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Simple, Comic and Ironic

Author: shellykachua from India
4 October 2014

For the non-intuitive, the film is just a grotesque, confusing image but think of it again. A woman in an absolutely pitiful state (blood and puss spewing out of her stump) is lost in her thoughts and memories of Love and Romance! It's just a simple ironic image with no plot, back story or message. How one can entirely neglect the present no matter how rotten it is and choose to dwell in the past. So lost! So Engrossed!

The film was made for the sole purpose of helping the American Film Institute decide between two stocks of black and white film. David Lynch, soon to emerge as one of the greatest directors ever proposed to shoot a short film twice. One can imagine David Lynch getting excited on the thought of the imagery he was to put to film "An amputated woman in an extremely deteriorated state lost in the days of her romantic endeavors!"

I understand that only a handful of people would appreciate the concept, leaving the majority confused and disgusted but The Amputee is a simple masterpiece open to interpretation

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Humorously Oozy

Author: MatthewTHuff from United States
24 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I for one thought both the first version and second version to be hysterically funny! David Lynch changed a small bit of this short film to test two different types of film, but in the end the second film looked like it had a better touch up quality. David's cameo fit the perfect role as the nurse and in the second film ended up to be a laugh when he ran out of the room because of her oozing bloody foot wound. The story didn't make much sense to me, only that i knew she had some disputes with some initial friends or acquaintances, but i for sure thought it was a dark comedy in a way.

David Lynch is, by far, an amazing writer towards shorts;Even know he uses the most complex and confusing ways to make his shorts and films so original that it almost can't be interpreted. Without one doubt i'm a firm believer that this short was better then both "The Alphabet" and " Absurd Encounter with Fear", combined. The question is what was the girl talking about? and how did she get like this? There will be no prequel, but it is a question that only your mind could answer, once again the imagination of David Lynch.

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A short, avant-garde film in the same vein as "The Alphabet"

Author: Daniel Lee ( from USA
17 September 2001

If you like early Lynch, you may like this. A commentary, I think, on amputation not only of the physical variety, but of the emotional as well. At five minutes long, sitting through the film is not exactly the test of patience a film like "Lost Highway" or "Eraserhead" may be... but in terms of its content, it is decidedly just as experimental as either of those.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Repetitive and boring

Author: Thomas ( from Berlin, Germany
14 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a black-and-white short film by director David Lynch from the 1970s. He was still in his 20s when he shot this one. Basically for the entire 9 minutes, we watch a woman sitting on an armchair. The camera is static and the woman has stumps instead of legs, must have been in a terrible accident. The woman (played by Catherine E. Coulson, long-time collaborator with Lynch) keeps telling random stories about people we do not know, while a nurse (played by Lynch himself) is busy with taking care of the lady's stumps. I am fairly certain that this film would not be famous if it wasn't for its director. It's really very uninteresting and I cannot come up with a similar reason why you would want to watch this. Maybe the static camera is supposed to let us feel the woman's situation as she cannot move either. I have no idea. But I certainly do not recommend this one. Entirely forgettable.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

This I didn't care for so much

Author: jbels from Chicago
28 January 2003

While David Lynch's films tend to gross you out through their art, this seemed to be made just to gross out. If the woman was saying something in her letter, it gets lost in the first viewing and this is not something I'd like to see a second time. Albeit, there are two versions of this on the DVD. The second, shorter version looks like it has more goop shooting out, though the quality makes it hard to tell.

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