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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blogging the Hulu Plus Criterion Collection: The Amputee

The Amputee Version 1 and 2

Here's another short subject by David Lynch. The Amputee I think is more typical of Lynch's work more so than The Alphabet which I reviewed earlier.

The Amputee is short film told in a single shot. In it a legless woman, played by Catherine E. Coulson (the Log Lady from Twin Peaks)writes a letter while a nurse (David Lynch in drag) cleans one of her stumps.

The nurse quickly has trouble as the stump begins oozing fluid. Soon fluid is gushing out and the nurse flees, hopefully to get help. Through it all the woman keeps writing her letter. There are two versions of this story. The only difference is the amount of fluid that gushes out of the woman's stump. In one version it's like a fire hose almost and even gets on some of the letter. The woman still doesn't pay any attention.

Both versions were shot on 1970s era black and white video. The notes say this was a stock test for the American Film Institute. The grainy image gives this weird scene some added realism which makes it even more cringe worthy.

As I said this short captures more of Lynch's signature style than the Alphabet. The Alphabet was weird but it was only weird. Here we have the weird and the grotesque sitting literally right next to normalcy. And by simply going on with her chore, the seemingly normal woman becomes even stranger and more grotesque than her oozing limb. That is a perfect summation of Lynch's aesthetic in Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Drive. It isn't just the weird that Lynch excels at. I?t's putting the weird right next to the normal and in that way making you question your ideas of normalcy.

This is one of the most perfect shorts I've scene. In a single scene it summarizes this character and has taken the audience into a very strange and dark place. To directors and writers who want to make short, this would be an excellent template.

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