Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Blue Velvet; Thriller/ Mystery, USA, 1986; D: David Lynch, S: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Laura Dern, Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell
The small city of Lumberton. Young lad Jeffrey has a strange day: first his dad lands in a hospital after a stroke and then he finds a cut ear in the meadow. He brings it to the local Police Detective Williams who explains him that he must not know anything about it, but his daughter Sandy reveals him that is has something to do with the singer Dorothy Vallens. A curious Jeffrey secretly enters her apartment. There he witnesses how Dorothy must allow gangster Frank to rape her because he kidnapped her husband and son. Jeffrey offers to help her and spies on Frank. When he shoots him, Sandy becomes Jeffrey's girlfriend.
After the eclectic "Dune", Kyle MacLachlan and director David Lynch shot the critically acclaimed (surreal) thriller "Blue Velvet" which marked the director's further step from the conventional narrative into the experimental-hermetic subconsciousness: the box office results were thin (8 million $), but the film enjoys cult status. "Blue Velvet" can probably be best described as an "Americana" with a dark twist: in the opening scenes, it depicts an idyllic rural town, Lumberton, where the people are smiling, children happily cross the street and everything seems perfect, until suddenly an older man has a stroke an falls on the garden, roughly breaking the mood. As the camera slowly descends into grass and shows ugly insects, it establishes the theme of yin and yang, namely that besides this pleasant world there is also a darker, evil one. There are many symbolic elements in the film, but the central one is that the main protagonist, the young Jeffrey, lives in this goody-good town but somehow feels bored in it - as he finds himself in the middle of a crime plot, he is somehow fascinated by this other yang world, where evil and darkness prevail. Jeffrey himself is idealistic and almost so good it's corny (like in the humorous scene where he tries to impress Sandy by doing the goofy "duck walk"), but he is not sure if he wants to live in this seemingly unexciting world until he takes a peak at the other side.
But after he does, he realizes it is too much for him, especially in the scene where he witnesses one of the most perverted sex scenes ever filmed on the big screen, the one between Dorothy, who is looking away, and psychopath Frank who is screaming: "Mummy! Mummy!" The scene is simply too nasty: there are some horrors that actually don't turn your stomach, but actually turn your brain upside down because they are intelligently crafted with a stylistic distance, yet here Lynch did not manage to outweigh disgust with style. Jeffrey is anti-Frank, as much as Frank is anti-Jeffrey: they are each others yin and yang - it must not be a coincidence that in one scene in a car Frank turns to Jeffrey and says: "You are just like me!" Frank is the dark side that was awakened in Jeffrey and the hero must kill him so that he can finally return to his "home sweet home" and realize that the quiet, idyllic, goody-good town is what he really wants. However, Lynch demonstrated his talent only in the sequence where Jeffrey secretly breaks into Dorothy's apartment at night and in the finale, while the rest is rather just hermetic gibberish that does not stimulate as much as it should. "Blue Velvet" was nominated for 2 Golden Globes (best screenplay, supporting actor Dennis Hopper) and one Oscar (best director).