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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #67

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Second #3149, 52:29

1. After leaving Dorothy’s apartment, Jeffrey walks home in the dark, in one of Blue Velvet’s furiously abstracted montage sequences, where sound and image come together to convey a doomsday atmosphere so totalizing and intent on destruction (the destruction of innocence) that to try to convey it in anything less than one long sentence would be a betrayal, not only of the fact of black in this frame, but of the blackness of Jeffrey’s heart and his realization of this blackness in his face, in that askance look, as if he was the one ravaged instead of Dorothy, or as if the ringing in his head were the words of Hecuba in Euripides’s The Trojan Women—“evil vies for evil in the struggle to be first”—which perhaps he read in college just weeks ago, before being called home, and whose lines turn over and over in his mind, refusing to go away or settle down into any sort of comfortable meaning.

2. Jeffrey’s face against a field of black gradually overexposes as the film slips out of external realism into something like psychological realism. It’s one of the few perfectly balanced frame compositions in Blue Velvet.

3. The fact of Jeffrey’s tie, on a warm night, and all its associations: a Norman Rockwellian nostalgia, a post-punk/new wave gesture, a lounge-singer’s outfit better suited to the stage at the Slow Club, an early 1960s-era sharkskin jacket.

4. But most of all, the sheer blackness that fills the frame out of which Jeffrey emerges and then disappears, and the way it’s like space itself, or the night sky—a void—and a moral void, too.

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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