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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #26

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Second #1222, 20:22

A bug man, a Jehovah’s Witness, and an anonymous cleaning man converge in the frame. It is near this point that Blue Velvet begins trembling under the weight of its own narrative expectations: what will Jeffrey find in Dorothy’s apartment? Will he get caught? What does Sandy really think of what’s happening? The framing follows the elegant horizontal lines of Jeffrey’s convertible, and the movement over the next few moments will follow the direction of the car, from right to left. Sandy holds copies of Awake! magazine, slipping into the role of Jeffrey’s accomplice and the religious overtones of this frame hint at the “robins” dream she will tell Jeffrey about outside a church later in the film. Jeffrey plays an exterminator. Sandy plays a crusader.

In The Divine Plan of the Ages (1886) a biblical study tract by Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Bible study movement from which the Jehovah’s Witnesses emerged, Russell imagines a world beset by evil:

Hence, while making no attempt to excuse our rebel race, we can sympathize with its vain efforts to govern itself and to arrange for its own well-being. And something can be said of the success of the world in this direction; for, while recognizing the real character of these beastly governments, corrupt though they have been, they have been vastly superior to none–much better than lawlessness and anarchy. Though anarchy would probably have been quite acceptable to the “prince of this world,” it was not so to his subjects, and his power is not absolute: it is limited to the extent of his ability to operate through mankind; and his policy must conform in great measure to the ideas, passions, and prejudices of men. Man’s idea was self-government independent of God; and when God permitted him to try the experiment, Satan embraced the opportunity to extend his influence and dominion. Thus it was by wishing to forget God that man exposed himself to the influence of this wily and powerful though unseen foe; and therefore he has ever since been obliged to work against Satan’s machinations, as well as his own personal weaknesses.

Blue Velvet assumes its shape against the hard facts of old-time good and evil (“Why is there so much trouble in this world?” Jeffrey will ask) and one of the film’s most radical gestures may be that it treats these forces with all seriousness. In this frame, just look at Sandy: she senses the coming black storm, a different sort of apocalypse than that foretold in the Awake! magazines she holds against her heart.

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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