Sunday, 15 January 2012

Unit 3: Environment - Review - David Lynch's Blue Velvet

Figure 1. Blue Velvet Poster Art

From curtain to curtain Blue velvet does not disappoint. While it is not difficult to understand many moments have one searching for ones inner fear, it could be the invisible entity that harms Jeffrey’s father, it could be Dorothy Vallens need to be disciplined or maniac Frank Booth’s horrifying drug habit. What begins as a tragedy completes as a lost sorrow with the audience trying to construct the characters untold futures.

•Directed by: David Lynch
•Written by: David Lynch
•Cast: Kyle MacLachlan as Jeffrey Beaumont, Isabella Rossellini as Dorothy Vallens, Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth, Laura Dern as Sandy Williams, Hope Lange as Mrs. Williams & Dean Stockwell as Ben
•Genre: Mystery, Suspense & Drama
•Duration: 120 Minutes (aprox)

Figure 2. "I found an ear...”

To say that Blue Velvet begins as anything but strange is an understatement. The viewer has not been in their seats for 5 minutes and already they are knee deep in the conspiracy of a lost ear which will send Kyle MacLachlan’s Jeffrey Beaumont into a tail spin of corruption. The film is only complemented by its imagery which is both bold & picturesque holding the very realms of reality in the shadows where the monsters lie. One is reminded specifically of the opening shot of the film where a camera pans from a blue sky to contrasted roses and a white picket fence, Groucho reviews observe:
“Lynch promptly whisks us off to Lumberton, U.S.A., a logging town ostensibly in North Carolina, but actually located somewhere in the Twilight Zone of the American psyche. Blue skies, white picket fences, a cherry-red fire engine with a smiling, waving rider, and better homes and gardens establish a picture-perfect suburbia moving forward in slow-motion calm.” (Groucho: 2011)
From this one could identify that the mere prescience of a picture perfect world conjures the feeling of the uncanny. The audience take in these contrasted objects of reality, too perfect to be anything but fantasy and yet our eyes roam seeking the imperfections to bring this world closer to home. The cherry red fire truck with the friendly fire fighter is quite possibly one of the stronger statements made by the films abstract chaos. One is forced to identify this with ones childhood personifications of “the friendly fire fighter”, “the trusting policeman” or “the nice ambulance man”. It is only when we grow up that we realise these personifications are not perfect – life is not simply black and white, there are shades of grey.

Figure 3. "It’s a strange world isn’t it?”

The true nature of Blue Velvet is only made present when the harsh reality hit’s home after the opening illusion of perfection. It is from this that we are made aware to our own disbelief that corruption, perversion & evil in general are present in everyday reality. One simply cannot comprehend the atrocities particularly the sexual perversions (by Hopper & Rossellini) which harkens to the Freudian analogy of the demonic, leaving one contemplating the difference between the mechanical and the primal. One could say that the films biggest scare is when the conspiracy becomes reality causing one to accept that there never was a conspiracy this is how it is & how it always was. Reviewer James Kendrick of observes:
“Blue Velvet is not so much about the hidden violence and masochism beneath the surface of Norman Rockwell idealism, but rather how that violence is constantly bubbling to the surface and we are only deluding ourselves about its secrecy. (Kendrick, 2011)
One could say that what our Psyches have trouble digesting is the mere possibility of an underline evil to every good deed & picture perfect mies-en-scene. The viewer feels as though the world is trying to balance itself weighing the good with the bad. One could consider that evil in many cases happens in secrecy behind a lock & key but director David Lynch shows it clear as day, this causes the audience to question whether or not the truth was always there trying to make itself apparent, we were just unable or unwilling to listen which would undoubtedly manifest further in our repressed memories.

Figure 4. "I want you to hurt me.”

Throughout the course of Blue Velvet the audience are treated to a number of effects regarding “The Uncanny”. These occurrences are once again everyday realities that appear in close proximity, Dennis Hoppers Frank Booth is the primary instigator treating each obscenity as a demonstration of his power. One cannot help but reflect on one of the closing scenes of Blue Velvet in which our Protagonist Jeffrey stumbles into Dorothy Vallens apartment to find one man bound with an ear missing while another stands gazing as blood drips from his head. The frights continue as a spontaneous movement erupts from the standing mentally brain dead Mike, respected psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud observes:
“...He adds to this class the uncanny effect of epileptic seizures and the manifestations of insanity, because these excite in the spectator the feeling that automatic, mechanical processes are at work, concealed beneath the ordinary appearance of animation.” (Freud, 1919: 135)
What is certainly at fault here is our psyches disbelief that a man standing can be absent in any way shape or form. Mike’s body has not fallen to the floor; he is a standing corpse which has just spontaneously moved. From this scene alone one fears the idea of the living dead with the mentally deceased Mike leaving behind a mechanical counterpart not man of mind just matter. The audience is therefore left with this fear that the body is still alive and yet at the same time the man in which animates that body is no longer alive.


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Blue Velvet Poster Art. (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 15/01/12)

Figure 2. I found an ear... (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 15/01/12)

Figure 3. It’s a strange world isn’t it? (com) [Online image]. At: (Accessed on: 15/01/12)

Figure 4. I want you to hurt me. (com) [Online image]. At:
(Accessed on: 15/01/12)



Groucho. (2011) Blue Velvet Review. At:
(Accessed on: 15/01/12)

Biodrowski, Steve. (2011) Blue Velvet Review. At:
(Accessed on: 15/01/12)

Sigmund, Freud. (1919) Essay on The Uncanny, Penguin Classics, 3rd Edition
(Accessed on: 15/01/12)

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