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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #41

Second #1927, 32:07

Jeffrey and Sandy have agreed on four honks of the car horn: this will warn Jeffrey to leave Dorothy’s apartment. Sandy waits in the car outside, in the night, in her own cocoon of nervous electricity. This is when Blue Velvet begins to go very, very dark, as Jeffrey makes his way through the India Ink of the screen into ever deeper and deeper blackness in what are perhaps the most psychologically violent moments in the film.

Where has Blue Velvet taken you?

When he woke up he thought he’d dreamed about a movie he’d seen the other day. But everything was different. The characters were black, so the movie in the dream was like a negative of the real movie. And different things happened, too. The plot was the same, but the ending was different or at some moment took an unexpected turn and became something completely different. Most terrible of all, though, was that as he was dreaming . . . (from 2666, by Roberto Bolaño).

This frame, from second #1927 is a synecdoche for the entire whole damned movie which has slowed to a primordial crawl at this point, as if Jeffrey’s movement across the screen and closer to Dorothy’s apartment is eternity compressed into a few moments, and the whole wasted history of cinema is expressed there in his profile, determined to make right out of this tangled narrative, more Frank than Frank, and there is that moment—maybe this moment—when you wish that the whole film devolved to this pinprick instant, because once Jeffrey enters that apartment the tilt is on and the dark carnival gears start churning (“And it’s sure been a cold, cold Winter, and the wind ain’t been blowin’ from the South” sings Mick Jagger in “Winter” in 1973 in some sort of weird premonition of your soul after first watching Blue Velvet) and there you are, your very self on that screen, pushing into new territory, Frank already waiting down one of the dark corridors, the dark, dark, dark corridors, as if Sandy (outside) was a remainder from the 1982 R.E.M. demo “Gardening at Night” in all its creeping, interminable, menacing slowness, as if warning you: don’t rush headlong, don’t rush headlong into your future, Jeffrey.

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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