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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #38

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#1784, 29:46

In what is perhaps Haruki Murakami’s best, most neglected novel, South of the Border, West of the Sun, the narrator recalls the effects of listening to a recording of a Liszt piano concerto:

And the music itself was wonderful. At first it struck me as exaggerated, artificial, even incomprehensible. Little by little, though, with repeated listenings, a vague image formed in my mind—an image that had meaning. When I closed my eyes and concentrated, the music came to me as a series of whirlpools. One whirlpool would form, and out of it another would take shape. . . . More than anything I wanted to tell Shimamoto about them. But they were beyond ordinary language. An entirely different set of words was needed, but I had no idea what these were.

This frame at the 1784 second mark comes during a sequence with very little dialogue. Instead, there is, of course, Dorothy’s rendition of “Blue Velvet,” and the background noise in the Slow Club, and then—in just a few moments—a remarkable transition to the deepest, darkest moments of Angelo Badalamenti’s score (in this audio clip, from 1:31-1:48). Unlike the previous frame from 47 seconds earlier (post #37) Dorothy now shares the stage with only the man at the piano. The three other players have disappeared, even though the sound of the full band carries on. Their unexplained absence suggests the passage of deep, circular time: Dorothy sings the same song as earlier, and yet something has changed, something beyond ordinary language. It’s one of those subtle temporal shifts in the film that give it the feeling and freedom of a dream, as if we had awoken to find that—what? how?—the stage and the light and everything else in this tightly controlled universe has switched suddenly to try to accommodate the vortex that is Dorothy.

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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