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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #83 (Part 2)

Second #3901, 65:01 (pt. 2)

And so, for the first time in this project, two posts on the same frame. Why? Most of all, it’s because of the brown, paneled wall to Sandy’s left. A wall where you think a window ought to be. Why do you think this? What gives rise to the suspicion that a wall artificially covers (hides) a window? Probably because it’s linked to the first time Sandy and Jeffrey were together at Arlene’s (covered in post #25).

Even though it’s possible that they are simply at a different booth, one framed by a wall and not a window, I prefer to believe this is the same booth. (In a 1986 interview on Canadian television, Lynch said that “Blue Velvet is . . . a trip into a world that you can only go to in the movies.”) But maybe it’s more than that. It’s the sense that the paneled wall is somehow of the movies.

The angle of their vision travels nearly across the horizontal metal strip of the booth partition. The first time you saw this film, on VHS in 1987, you didn’t realize that these small, quiet moments at Arlene’s would become lodged in your memory of the film as the most significant parts, the closest the film gets to unraveling its own knotted mystery. In a few seconds, Jeffrey will come over to Sandy’s side and kiss her gently on the lips, and she will let him, and you wondered and still wonder how much of Jeffrey’s seduction is calculated to keep Sandy on his side, or to remind himself that although he and Frank in fact share certain desires he is fundamentally different because he has Sandy. Is she just balance for Jeffrey? Is she just an anchor for him, securing him to the moral code bedrock so that he doesn’t drift too far away?

There is a hint of desperation and uncertainty in Jeffrey’s face in this shot at second #3901, a hint of weakness, as if the film itself at this very moment could have gone in an entirely different direction, perhaps one in which we learn something about Sandy beyond what we know of her, which is practically nothing. But that’s not entirely true: earlier, in the dream-of-robins scene, she espoused a philosophy (until the robins come there is trouble) that’s both adolescent and profound. Sandy seems already to have crossed to the other side of darkness (is it because her father’s a detective, and she’s “heard” things, perhaps terrible things?) and is waiting there for Jeffrey. Although it appears in this shot that only a few feet of space separates them, in truth they are so distant from each other it’s remarkable they can see each other at all.

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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