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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #29

Second #1363, 22:43

The fact that Dorothy’s frightened gaze fixes on the camera—on us—means something, but what? The frame, bisected by the vertical gap that leads into her apartment, is given dark force by the accumulated black that collects behind Jeffrey. He’s not entering a “dark world,” but bringing a dark world into her apartment. A counter-reading of Blue Velvet, based on frames like this, suggests that it is Jeffrey’s presence–as much as Frank’s–that invokes the film’s dark angels.

Laura Mulvey, in Death 24x a Second, wrote that:

Now that films on DVD are indexed in chapters, the linearity associated with film projection begins to break down further. It is easier to perceive the lack of smoothness that has always been an aspect of film narrative, its resistance to that forward movement to which it has always been tied my the movement of celluloid through the projector. . . . To halt, to return and to repeat these images is to see cinematic meaning coming into being as an ordinary object becomes detached from its surroundings, taking on added cinematic and semiotic value. But delaying the image, extracting it from its narrative surroundings, also allows it to return to its context and to contribute something extra and unexpected, a deferred meaning, to the story’s narration.

The “deferred” meaning, traditionally unavailable to us as we watch a film unfold in real time, is now in the age of screen grabs no longer elusive. You would think that capturing a film’s individual frames for study would contribute to film’s demystification but, against all reason, the opposite has happened. As with the quantum world—as theoretical physicists like Lisa Randall and Brian Greene would attest—the closer and deeper you look, the less you know about what you thought you knew.

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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