I almost didn’t get my hands on a copy of Blue Velvet. Not that the film was particularly elusive, I just didn’t feel like expending a whole lot of effort. There was a brief moment where I thought about reviewing a production of The Velveteen Rabbit instead. You know, that story about the stuffed animal who gets AIDS or somesuch. Then they set him on fire and he becomes a real bunny! The moral of the story? Fire is the best medicine.
But we’re not hear to discuss velveteen. We’ve got the real deal!
Blue Velvet is a movie that I know I’ve seen before, but for the life of me I can’t remember when. It must have been when I was much younger (my childhood was spent watching movies that I probably should not have been watching), and while the recent viewing didn’t bring up too many memories, I finally understand my lifelong fear of Kyle MacLachlan hiding in my closet.
David Lynch’s movie is the story of what takes place inside of people’s ears. They don’t necessarily have to be attached, we see early on. But even with severed ears, rape, and more, this is easily one of the more accessible David Lynch films. While surreal, it lacks more fantastical elements like thimble-sized elderly or Balthazar Getty.
Much like those films, though, Blue Velvet trades heavily in symbolism, but this film keeps everything pretty close to the surface (in spite of being about the hidden underbelly of society! Irony! Or maybe not! I don’t understand the term!). I’m personally a fan of movies that begin by both showing us the title object while a song plays about it. I can immediately go “Ah, yes, that is indeed blue velvet.”
Of course we can’t talk about this movie without mentioning Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth. The man is unhinged, one of the most enigmatic and outrageous screen psychos I’ve ever witnessed. We’re pretty sure he’s crazy when we meet him and he starts suckin’ down amyl nitrate, his slap-happy raping only confirms our suspicions and are finally sure of his madness when he extols the virtues of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
[TANGENT TIME! I have a good friend who honestly likes Pabst Blue Ribbon. He’s not being ironic but merely has an appreciation for the swil over other cheap beer. For Christmas one year I got him a wooden Pabst beer sign featuring the phrase “21 or skidoo.” It is the second greatest gift I’ve ever given anybody. BACK TO BLOG!]
“What is your favorite scene in the movie?” you might ask. I might ask you why the hell you’re talking in bold. But that’s neither here nor there. Well, it’s up there, but I digress. My favorite moment in the movie is definitely the scene were Jeffrey and Sandy are sitting in the car and she details her dream about the robins returning. Sure, it’s an important image that is brought back at the film’s end to symbolize the return to the light and escape from Frank’s world (BUGS = SYMBOLISM) but that’s not why I like it. I just feel like this is a really apt depiction of Laura Dern in real life. You just know that she’s one of those people who regales you with every single dream she’s ever had. And they’re never, ever interesting. Except for the Rocky Dennis sex dreams, but those are just way too freaky.
But seriously folks, there are a handful of wonderful scenes that just need to be experienced. Everything at Dean Stockwell’s place is mesmerizing, particularly his haunting lip-sync of “In Dreams.” Haunting being a good word for the majority of this film. There’s a dark beauty to everything, Lynch’s world wonderfully draped in shadows. Plus Isabella Rosellini is pretty naked in it, so, ya know, that’s nifty. She gets kinda beat up but we take the good with the bad here at Fine-Toothed Coombs (a division of Mars, Inc).
This is certainly a film worth discussing, so I’d like to see some of that. Even if you don’t discuss it with me, you had better discuss with yourself. Maybe over a nice glass of whatever it is you like to fill glasses with.
Join me next time when I talk about something that isn’t this. Possibly a Gallagher retrospective.*
*Probably not a Gallagher retrospective