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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #129


Second #6063, 101:03

Layered with unfolding narrative information, this frame depicts the brief confrontation with Mike, who threatens to kick Jeffrey’s ass “right in front of your own stupid house.” With the vintage cars, Mike’s friends looking on, the fight over the girl, and the classical-era wide framing, this could be a scene straight of Rebel Without a Cause. Except that there, having just emerged in the background and unnoticed by everyone at this point, is the completely naked and bruised Dorothy, who appears on Jeffrey’s porch just behind Mike’s friends. In a few seconds Mike will be the first to notice her and will taunt Jeffrey: “Who’s that? Is that your mother?”

There is an element of classic horror to the scene, as Dorothy emerges with her arms held away from her body, like a white zombie. She is an untouchable, and yet Jeffrey will rush to her and enfold her with love in a blanket. Upon a first viewing, we may not understand what’s happening at this moment, even though the long take allows us to see Dorothy before any of the on-screen characters do. We see her emerge from the darkness just as Sandy emerged from the dark on the sidewalk early in the film to ask Jeffrey, “Are you the one that found the ear?” The decision to film Dorothy’s arrival—an arrival that blasts apart the guts of the film—with such subtlety makes her entrance even more jarring.

In Larissa Szporluk’s book of poetry The Wind, Master Cherry, The Wind, there are these lines:

What would I be
if I hadn’t been pitted against you?
My soul would have no furniture
to burn on a night like this

What was Jeffrey before Frank? In the world of the film, he barely existed. If Jeffrey conjured Frank (“In Dreams”) then he did so in order to bring himself into being.

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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