Blue Velvet (1986)

It’s a strange world we live in.

blue velvet movieThis, my friends, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful films ever made. Teetering on the tip-top of cult classics, to know Blue Velvet is to know indie film greatness. This film combines artistry and surrealism in such a natural and shocking way. Natural and shocking may seem like a contradiction, but that’s what makes this film stand out amongst others. The first thirty minutes of this film plays out like a good-hearted Nancy Drew story- white picket fences, perfectly trimmed lawns, nuclear families in classic apparel. It seems like the perfect place to live, free of crime and worry; almost like Heaven. But then the cookie-cutter neighborhood is afflicted by the terrible mishap of an innocent young man with a chance encounter with a severed human ear. Some say, in order for Heaven to exist, there must be a Hell. In this case, it just may show up in the least expected place.

blue-velvet-originalDavid Lynch is, hands down, in my top five favorite directors (not pertaining to horror directors). Michael Haneke, Gregg Araki, Harmony Korine, David Lynch, and Larry Clark top this list, in no particular order. I know there are a lot of theories behind David Lynch’s work and I am not here to try to decipher it, for I am not qualified to say what he is thinking and I certainly don’t want to soil Lynch’s work and vision. David Lynch probably holds such a high place for me due to this complexity and uniqueness in film-making. His process of making a film is just as important as the outcome.

After Jeffery (played by Kyle MacLachlan) finds the severed ear covered in mold and ants, he takes it to small town Detective Williams, who keeps Jeffery out of the loop of the investigation. Luckily, Williams’ daughter, Sandy (played by Laura Dern) has some insider information since her room is right above his office. Jeffery loves a good mystery and convinces Sandy to help him sneak into the apartment of Dorothy Vallens (played by the iconic Isabella Rossellini), who could possibly be linked to murder.

Dennis-Hopper-and-Isabell-001The scene to follow is one of the strangest and terrifying moments in cinematic history. (Contains spoilers.) Jeffery must hide in Dorothy’s closet when she unexpectedly arrives home with Frank Booth (played by Dennis Hopper). There are those moments when you are alone in your house; things that are not meant to be witnessed by others- deep, intimate, shaming moments. Frank goes on a raping frenzy- sucking  amyl nitrite, eating blue velvet, snipping scissors, crying for mommy, and violating and threatening Dorothy. The scene is captivating in pure insanity and Frank Booth is the ultimate raging psychotic. Dennis Hopper embraces this intense and violent role with all that he is worth, and does so with beautiful madness. Now Jeffery is wrapped up and involved in this sick and twisted game, whether he wants to be or not. He has no idea how over his head he is in.

Not only is Jeffrey caught in the middle of this mystery, he is caught between two women. The juxtaposition between the women cannot be ignored. On one hand he has feral, wounded Dorothy and on the other he has naïve, angelic Sandy. Jeffery goes back and forth between the two, but can’t stay away from this damaged woman. Dorothy seems like the victim but she may be as perverse and fucked-up as her tormenter.  Jeffery continues following Frank and his gaggle of criminals who contribute to her despair and fear; and he is determined to uncover this mystery.

blue velvet david lynchThis is David Lynch’s most approachable film in my opinion, compared to his other cerebral, mind-trip worthy films. I could talk about this film for hours. Every nuance, image, and sound effect is so strategically engaging and thought-provoking. There are so many amazing scenes and ideas and character development woven throughout this film that I could probably write a ten page paper on it; but I will spare you. In a nutshell, this film is sheer brilliance and pure disturbing greatness. This film reminds me a lot of the film Happiness, which also explores the unsettling underbelly of societal facades; a ‘can’t wrench your eyes away from the screen’ viewing experience that certainly leaves the audience demoralized and unnerved. But you have to see it for yourself. If you have a chance to see David Lynch’s early short films, I highly suggest those as well. I often think about the time my sister and I curled up in bed with a laptop to watch them . Let me tell you, we definitely scared ourselves silly with these dream-like and nightmarish images. David Lynch will forever be a compelling enigma that I long to understand. But in the meantime, I will continue to love every bizarre and surreal minute of it.

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Blue Velvet (1986) on IMDb

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