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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #24

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Second # 1128, 18:48

1. “The first thing I need,” Jeffrey tells Sandy, “is to get into her apartment and open a window that I can crawl into later.” As it turns out, this plot line never develops, as Jeffrey spots a key to Dorothy’s apartment which he takes instead. It seems like a minor point, the window, (although in the apartment in his bug overalls Jeffrey does glance twice at the window above Dorothy’s sink) and we soon forget about it. It’s one of those moments in Blue Velvet that only obliquely and in the most obscure ways references Hollywood’s past, in this case Rear Window, itself a movie about vision, about watching, about discovering oneself by looking at others, and which also features a protagonist named Jeff. (“You look out the window. You see things you shouldn’t,” Stella tells Jeff, played by Jimmy Stewart.)

2. In his novel Suspicion, the great Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt (best known in the U.S. for The Pledge, adapted into a film) puts into the mouth of his Inspector Barlach a theory of fighting evil that recognizes its terrible force in all its mystery and power and darkness, and which could serve as an epigraph for Blue Velvet:

But we’re not up against windmills, my friend, like that shabby old knight [Don Quixote] in his suit of armor, we have dangerous giants to content with, monsters of brutality and cunning, and sometimes genuine dinosaurs, the kind who have always had brains like sparrows: these creatures exist, not in fairy tales or in our imagination, but in reality.

3. In this shot, Jeffrey’s earring is clearly visible. In the Eighties, there was still some nebulous sexual meaning attached to which ear was pierced, left or right (variations on “left is right; right is wrong”) and it’s at moments like this that we realize just how little we know about him. Is the earring an empty signifier, or overloaded with inscrutable meaning? Is Jeffrey’s spiel to Sandy endearing, or creepy? In one sense it doesn’t matter, as Jeffrey seems not to be solving a mystery at all, but creating one, making it up as he goes along.

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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