Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Blue Velvet



A mystery thriller about strange happenings in a small North Carolina town. Jeffrey Beaumont returns home after his father has a seizure of some sort and is hospitalised. Jeffrey stumbles across a human ear while on a walk which leads him into a mystery where his curiosity gets the better of him and endangers his life. All is not what it seems in his utopian town as he descends into the mystery and is introduced into the underworld of the town.


At the beginning of the film the audience is shown shots of the town with Blue Velvet played over the top. It seems to be an ideological town, having so many falsities to it, as everything looks beautiful and safe to which in truth as the camera carries on and views Jeffrey’s father have a seizure causing him to collapse onto the ground which the camera burrows itself into to view dirt and an infestation of insects. These beginning shots makes clear to the audience of the tone of the film in which it will go past the falseness of this utopian town and uncover the disturbing truth of its underworld. Hanke comments of the falseness and tones of the opening scenes “The film sets its tone from the very onset with its slow-motion valentine to small-town America set to Bobby Vinton’s Blue Velvet that looks for all the world like something Ronald Reagan would use for a presidential campaign. The shift comes when something goes wrong with these idyllic images and an elderly man (Jack Harvey) suffers some kind of seizure while tussling with a garden hose. Upon his collapse, the camera literally burrows into the ground, revealing what lies beneath this unreal surface. The bulk of the film explores this hidden world.’ (Hanke, 2010)


Hopper provides a strange character in Frank who is the villain of the story. A kidnapper who is revealed instantly to be a fetishist rapist who’s psyche is governed by a strange drug ritual causing him to become even more apathetic in his actions towards Dorothy. His treatment of Dorothy ultimately rubs off on her and in constant cries to be hit by Jeffrey gains more physical abuse. He is basically the core of the underworld seeping into the false oblivious lives of the town infecting them slowly, although Jeffrey witnesses the abuse of Dorothy he later takes it upon himself to hit Dorothy as well. Gonzalez comments on Franks “In a town where Awake magazines are readily associated with Jehovah's Witnesses, Dennis Hopper's Frank becomes a kind of satanic assault on normalcy. He's a rapist and kidnapper and if Dorothy's desire to be physically hit by Jeffrey is any indication, Frank's perversion easily spreads.” (Gonzalez, 2002)




The film feels very dreamlike in its design with hallucinatory images and uncomfortable disengaging low frequency tones accompanying them. The camera shot which leads us into the disembodied ear is extremely powerful, the low frequency tones creates discomfort to the horrific image and generates a feeling of being trapped within a nightmare which you cannot escape. The story hints at following a similar sense to that of a nightmare in which it deals with hidden fantasies which would be considered perverse and through experience Jeffrey realises that it is morally wrong shifting the narrative into a conscious state to which love seems much more normal. Levy comments on the subconscious and conscious narrative that the story follows and explains “ At the film's coda, the narrative shifts back from the subconscious to the conscious, and from below to above ground, stressing the need for ordinary life, i.e. normal love and sex. The restoration of order and the relegation of Dorothy to normal motherhood (in the last scene, she is seen with her son) are at best precarious, if not fragile.” (Levy)

Blue Velvet is a film which goes past the falseness of a seemingly ideological town and into the nightmarish underworld relishing in Lynch’s signature techniques to make it so much more discomforting. It uncovers repressed sexual perversions of its characters which seem to be influenced by the actions of Frank but when things return to a seeming normality it seems that the issues have been brushed under the carpet in favour of the oblivious "Blue Velvet" isn't about David Lynch's view of the world, it's about David Lynch; he isn't interested in communicating, he's interested in parading his personality. The movie doesn't progress or deepen, it just gets weirder, and to no good end.” (Attanasio, 1986)


Bibliography

Ken Hanke, 30 June 2010, Blue Velvet Review http://www.mountainx.com/movies/review/blue_velvet

Ed Gonzalez, 27 May 2002, Blue Velvet review http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/blue-velvet/51

Emanuel Levy, Date Unknown, Blue Velvet Review http://www.emanuellevy.com/search/details.cfm?id=714

Paul Attanasio, 19 September 1986, Blue Velvet review http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/bluevelvetrattanasio_a0ad54.htm

Images

Movie Poster - http://movie-shop.us/pictures/Blue_Velvet.jpg

Opening scene fire engine - http://imcdb.org/images/058/205.jpg

Frank - http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/020603/142218__blue_l.jpg

Disembodied Ear - http://www.cinemademerde.com/Blue_Velvet-ear.gif

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