Blue Velvet - 1986
Director - David Lynch
1) Blue Velvet Poster
Plot Summary / review:
Blue Velvet opens in an idyllic American suburb with immaculate houses, lush green lawns, white picket fences with glorious red rose bushes with a hint of 1950's design. An unannounced man is watering his garden and collapses from a stroke. Garden hose still clenched in his hand, the camera zooms into the green grass to unveil an infestation of bugs and insects, frantically jostling beneath the picturesque garden. A metaphor of what is to come.
2) Idyllic America
Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle Maclachan) returns to his home town from College to visit his father in hospital, (the man who suffered the stroke in his garden). On his way back from the hospital he happens to find a severed ear in the overgrown fields behind his home. He takes the evidence to the police station and gives it to his detective neighbour, John Williams (George Dickerson).
3) Jeffrey Beaumont
Later that night, Jeffrey visits the detectives house to discuss the incident further but is told to leave it to the police. Outside he meets the Detectives daughter Sandy (Laura Dern), who's bedroom is above her fathers office. She tells Jeffrey she over heard her father discussing the case and that they are investigating a woman called Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a nightclub singer who lives in the neighbourhood. The next day, Jeffrey picks up Sandy from school and devises a plan to investigate the case for himself, a form of escapism from his dreary small town life.
4) Jeffrey and Sandy
Disguised as a pest control maintenance man, Jeffrey investigates the beautiful but mysterious Dorothy's apartment. When Dorothy is distracted by a man in a yellow suit, he steals the spare keys to her apartment. That night he visits the "Slow Club" with Sandy and while Dorothy performs on stage, they sneak off to further investigate her apartment.
5) Dorothy Vallens
Jeffrey is trapped in Dorothy's apartment when she returns home. Hiding in the cupboard he curiously watches Dorothy get undressed until she discovers him and questions him at knife point. Strangely excited by the danger, Dorothy begins to seduce him until they are interrupted by Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Hiding again in the cupboard, Jeffrey observes in a truly uncomfortable and terrifying scene as Frank performs sadomasochistic acts on Dorothy. When Frank leaves, Dorothy resumes with Jeffrey, pleading for him to strike her. He declines and promptly leaves.
6) Frank Booth.
Jeffrey investigates Frank and discovers he is a violent, drug addicted mob boss who is involved with the police. He get's embroiled in their underworld after surmising that Frank has kidnapped Dorothy's son and husband, the owner of the ear he found in the field. Despite his feelings towards Sandy, Jeffrey's desire for Dorothy gets the better of him and his darker side revealed, striking her when they make love. It is revealed that the man in the yellow suit is Detective Williams' partner and the film climaxes in Dorothy's apartment with Jeffrey killing Frank after a deal goes bad. A few weeks later Jeffrey is with his family and Sandy and their World has returned to normal as they observe a bird which has caught one of the insects from opening scene.
6) Captured evil metaphor
Lynch has crafted a strange mixed film which can't be pinned down to any one genre. Part detective story, part mystery thriller and part sexual exploitation it's main purpose is to investigate the dark and seedy world just out of sight of ordinary peoples lives. "Lynch's modern masterpiece is obsessed with the strangeness that hides in the nooks and crannies of suburban America." (Russell, 2001).
The film is famously explicit and violent, captured with terrifying realism, and acted extremely well by Rossellini and Hopper alike. Curiously the strangest and off kilter scenes derive from the ordinary, "idyllic" setting of suburban America, which doesn't seem to have a fixed theme or place in time. It could be interpreted as a joke or false, in stark contrast to the gritty realism of the sexual scenes and gangster world. "The seamless blending of beauty and horror is remarkable - although many will be profoundly disturbed by Lynch's vision of male-female relationships, centred as it is on Dorothy's psychopathic hunger for violence - the terror very real, and the sheer wealth of imagination virtually unequalled in recent cinema." (Timeout, 2006).
If "Blue Velvet" had continued to develop its story in a straight line, if it had followed more deeply into the implications of the first shocking encounter between Rossellini and MacLachlan, it might have made some real emotional discoveries." (Ebert, 2000). A valid point from Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times, but one that fails to see the meaning of Lynch's film. The curious "happy" ending is mocking traditional Hollywood endings where everyone lives happily ever after. Unfortunately life doesn't follow a straight line. It is not perfect and sugar coated like the idyllic suburban America depicted at the beginning and end of the film. Reality (as depicted by Lynch) is much darker and seedier than we like to believe.
Ebert, Robert. Chicago Sun-Times review. 1st January 2000
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19860919/REVIEWS/609190301 Accessed 16/01/11
Russell, Jamie. BBC review 10th December 2001.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/12/05/blue_velvet_1986_review.shtml Accessed 16/01/11
Time Out Review 24th June 2006
http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/68161/blue_velvet.html Accessed 16/01/11
1) Blue Velvet Poster - http://uk.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/28/A70-14372 Accessed 16/01/11
2) Idyllic America - http://passionforcinema.com/wp-content/uploads/bluevelvet1.jpg Accessed 16/01/11
3) Jeffrey - http://30.media.tumblr.com/fFsbqlx6ulo7blcgL3LWvY6Po1_500.jpg Accessed 16/01/11
4) Jeffrey and Sandy - http://passionforcinema.com/wp-content/uploads/blue-velvet-1986-kyle-maclachlan-laura-dern-pic-1.jpg Accessed 16/01/11
5) Dorothy Vallens - http://www.toplessrobot.com/bluevelvet.jpg Accessed 16/01/11
6) Frank Booth - http://i35.tinypic.com/k3ovpd.jpg Accessed 16/01/11
7) Captured evil metaphor - http://www.seanmichaelragan.com/img/blue_velvet_bird.jpg Accessed 16/01/11