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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #44

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Second #2068, 34:28

“I hope you’re careful, Jeffrey,” Sandy whispers to herself, gazing up at Dorothy’s apartment, where Jeffrey has just not-heard her car horn warning because—and there is a strange, haunted reference to Psycho somewhere in this scene—he is in Dorothy’s bathroom and has just flushed the toilet. Laura Dern’s face is made-up in a way that hearkens back to her role in 1982’s Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains, a film which teetered so delicately between the sweet danger of punk and the even sweeter danger of new wave pop that it practically imploded. Lines upon lines could be written about Laura Dern’s face, especially in Blue Velvet, as it registers not just the whole range of human emotion, but something darker: fate.

John Cassavetes once said this of acting:

It’s a very hard job, being an actor. Because the camera comes down in your face, and someone says to you, in essence, ‘Be big, now!’ Because after they finish powdering you, and dusting you, and messing with your hair, and throwing you in front of the camera, then there’s this tension: ‘QUIET now! It’s a long scene!’ And you’re standing there with a bunch of strangers that you have nothing in common with, whom you’re supposed to love or hate, and with a bunch of words you don’t really want to say.

An acknowledgment of fate: that is what registers in Sandy’s eyes at second #2068. The understanding that Jeffrey is now slip-streamed into his own dark dream. It’s true: Laura Dern has been powdered, dusted, and messed with, to be sure. And yet the only thing that really matters are her eyes, untouched.

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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