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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #97

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Second #4559, 75:59

Could it be that Dorothy is gazing not at Frank, but at Ben, the one who holds her son hostage in his apartment? If so, it’s not a meaning that registers upon watching the movie in real time. But at this moment—the moment of the isolated frame—a different layer of information is revealed. Separated from the frames that come immediately before and after it, does the solitary frame mean something different when studied as an image in its own right? Is a single film frame from a movie with over 170,000 frames the equivalent to a single word in a novel? A single letter? A single sentence?

The frame captures a moment just after these lines have been spoken:

FRANK: Let’s drink to fucking. Let’s say, here’s to your fuck, Frank.
BEN: If you like, Frank. (pause) Here’s to your fuck. Cheers.

How much context would it possibly take to make sense of those lines? Or to make sense of Dorothy’s piercing gaze, at this very moment? Who speaks for Dorothy, other than Dorothy? She has no allies except for Jeffrey, who stands a mute witness to her suffering. Christian Hawkey’s poem “Up Here in the Rafters Everything is Clear” (from The Book of Funnels) begins like this:

Night, night was a quick-thrash from the gator-pond,
the silence, just after, widened out in rings,
even the fire ants in the dry grass
held still. Hold still
said the branch, lifting in the absence
of an owl, hold still.

And perhaps, after all, that’s it. Not presence, but absence. The draining out of meaning from frame #4559, not the putting in. The heroic, delusional effort to pull the plug on the whole machine and, after tens of thousands of years of advancing civilization, to simply drink to . . .

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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