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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #30

Second #1410, 23:20

The sound. A low hum, like the over-filtered wail of a distant train or a collapsing carnival from some fevered dream. Within a few seconds of this shot that sound creeps into the film, and by the time the Yellow Man knocks at the door (roughly eight seconds after this frame) it will feel as if the sound is seeping out from the architecture of the room itself. Dorothy, in her red dress, pretends to attend to her fingernails, a sure sign that she already desires Jeffrey. The pink, plush, un-patterned carpeting. The lone chair, facing forward, waiting to hold a body. The couch, framed by the weird-deco quarter-circle of black on one side and the Oriental partition on the other.

In Keith Ridgway’s novel Animals (2006), a character known as K tells the narrator:

It just goes to show . . . that the most infectious thing of all is not anthrax or the plague or whatever, it’s paranoia, and they’ve already released that. It’s in all our conversations, in our private thoughts and our worries and our secret fears and our horror stories. And now it’s in our dreams. It’s contagious.

There is a contagion to this frame, which lodges itself unreasonably in the mind. Dorothy and Jeffrey, separated by the vast invisible void of the frame, split apart by time. She is a woman from another era, from classical Hollywood’s unfilmed past, hinted at by the post-war appliances and even Dorothy’s dress itself. The “strange world” Jeffrey has entered is not so much one of moral decay as a world governed by “worries and secret fears.” Just look at that frame. It’s an open space, waiting for blood to fill it.

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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