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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #95

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Second #4465, 74:25

1. Dorothy and Frank split their angles of vision; everyone is watching everyone. But it is Dorothy who suggests and defines the off-screen space, the space where Donny is kept behind a closed door.

2. Ben has just said, to one of the Party Girls, “Darling, could you bring some glasses, and we’ll have a beer with Frank. Please, sit down.”

3. Ben’s quiet formalism is not at all ironic. Rather, his decorum (which Frank calls “suave”) suggests that there is a proper and an improper way to conduct matters of evil in this world, and his way is proper. Glasses shall be provided. Beer shall be poured.

4. In the Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai’s novel Satantango (1985; translated in 2012), a character fascinated with magazine photo spreads on “the wars in Asia” becomes absorbed by one photograph in particular,

an aerial shot, that greatly appealed to him: an enormous, ragged procession winding over a desertlike terrain leaving behind them the ruins of an embattled town billowing smoke and flames, while ahead, waiting for them, there was only a large, spreading dark area like an admonitory blot. And what made the photograph particularly worthy of note was the equipment appropriate to a military observation post that—redundant at first sight—was just about visible in the bottom left-hand corner. He felt the picture was important enough to deserve close attention because it demonstrated with great confidence, in real depth, the ‘all but heroic history’ of a perfectly conducted piece of research focused on essentials, research in which observer and observed were at an optimal distance from each other and where minuteness of observation was given particular emphasis, to the extent that he often imagined himself behind the lens, waiting for the precise moment when he might press the button on the camera with utmost certainty. . . . Every time he looked at it [the picture] he lived in hope of discovering something he hadn’t yet noticed.

5. The moving image, stilled, offers the thrill of exploration and the hope of discovery. But discovery of what? Like the character in Satantango, perhaps it is nothing more than an unnoticed detail, a detail that derails the ruthless accumulated meanings of the film and which in fact undermines the entire enterprise of interpretation. Frank’s fingers, perhaps, on Dorothy’s right shoulder, a gesture of control masked as affection, a detail so insignificant that it just so happens to tell us everything we need to know about Frank.

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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