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The Blue Velvet Project

Blue Velvet, 47 seconds at a time by Nicholas Rombes

The Blue Velvet Project, #133

Second #6251, 104:11


1. “He put his disease in me.” (Dorothy to Sandy, around three seconds before this frame.)

2. Blue Velvet’s sound designer was the late Alan Splet, who had worked with Lynch beginning with his short film The Grandmother, in 1970.

3. In the distance, growing louder, the wail of an ambulance siren, which will arrive immediately after this shot for Dorothy.

4. The sound of Sandy crying, gradually drowned out by the wail of the siren.

5. What if the siren is, secretly, Sandy’s red thoughts at this moment, an outward auditory expression of her inner turmoil? Sergei Eisenstein, from “A Course in Treatment,” 1932:

How fascinating to listen to one’s own train of thought, particularly in an excited state, in order to catch yourself looking at and listening to your mind. How you talk ‘to yourself’ as distinct from ‘out of yourself.’ The syntax of inner speech as distinct from outer speech. The quivering inner words that correspond with the visual images.

6. The sound of Sandy’s thoughts in the screaming of a siren. The anguish on her face. Her arm across her chest, a shield.

7. “When I work on the sound, I want it to support the film and the emotions, but also, if possible, to reach something at a higher level.” David Lynch, 1990.

8. This interview with sound designer Ann Kroeber (who was Alan Splet’s partner and who worked with him on The Elephant Man and Dune) offers an excellent glimpse into the sound process on Lynch’s films.

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Around the 8:00 minute mark, she turns her discussion to Blue Velvet, offering commentary and audio clips. (“Alan worked up this whole thing of insects . . .”)

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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