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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #20

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Second #940, 15:40

“That’s kind of interesting,” Sandy says, laughing, after Jeffrey has—out of the blue—demonstrated the chicken walk. Blue Velvet was the last Lynch film on which Alan Splet designed sound and in this scene, like so many others, it’s as if we are enveloped in an auditory cocoon. “Sound is very important,” Lynch has said, “because it really is half the film. With film, the whole can be greater than the parts if you have the sound, the image, and sequence of scenes right.” At right around second #940, the film cuts to this shot, and the sound of Sandy’s and Jeffrey’s conversation nearly drops out, leaving the noise of the night—crickets, the mournful wail of a distant train—to fill the auditory space. Suddenly, everything seems creaky and full of potential. Sandy and Jeffrey occupy only a small part of the frame space now, which is flooded with darkness. Their voices compete with the crickets. “A strange unrest hovers over the nation,” goes the first line of Robert Bly’s poem “Unrest,” and you can feel that, you can really feel it, and if all writing is autobiographical you have tried so hard to eliminate yourself from the equation, and to keep the focus on the image, the frame, and in fact you have practically run your mind into walls trying to absent yourself and yet here you are, right here, clanking up the first massive incline of the analog-era wooden roller coaster, with its overbanked turns, ready to plunge into the void of Blue Velvet. Sandy’s line “That’s kind of interesting” is more than a commentary on Jeffrey’s chicken walk, and more than some sort of meta-postmodern-commentary on the film itself, because what she’s saying, in all its flirtatious curiosity, is so exactly true that the film might as well end right here.

Over the period of one full year — three days per week — The Blue Velvet Project will seize a frame every 47 seconds of David Lynch’s classic to explore. These posts will run until second 7,200 in August 2012. For a complete archive of the project, click here. And here is the introduction to the project.

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