Thursday, 20 January 2011


 Director: David Lynch
Producer: Fred Caruso
Cast: Kyle Maclachan, Isabella Rosellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Dean Stockwell
Year: 1986

Blue Velvet is an American mystery film written and directed by David Lynch. The story takes place in a  sort of ‘Nowhere’ American-like town which in terms of its environment (architecture and vehicles) it looks  as if it’s based  in the 60’s whereas the clothing style is resembling more of a 1980’s style. This could have been done by the director intentionally to give it a more surrealistic style and show how underneath any bright, welcoming town hides a dodgy underworld, a terrifying reality, where crime is the main player and poisons people’s lives. "The message is clear – perfection often hides deeply-rooted rot. Dreams can easily turn into nightmares. Corruption is everywhere, even in places that seem immune to it. These themes, and others about the pernicious influence of evil, are explored in some depth throughout Blue Velvet." (Berardinelli:2002)
FIG.2: The film'e opening: A garden with red roses and a clear blue sky
in the background. But underneath this beauty lies an ugly truth.
Blue Velvet is Lynch’s obsession with the strangeness of suburban America and is essentially a detective story of two young students, Jeffrey and Wendy, who are trying to uncover the mystery surrounding a chopped off ear. Their investigation leads them to a torch singer, Dorothy, who is being abused by Frank, her torturer-lover who has kidnapped her son and husband and uses her for his sick sexual arouses.
The film has been pointed out for its offbeat stylistic quirkiness especially around the issue of sex which is used to reveal indeterminable character traits.  A good example is Dorothy’s and Frank’s sado-mazohistic relationship. Frank was physically and psychologically destroying Dorothy by sexually abusing her and releasing his psychopathic hunger for violence on her. Strangely enough, Dorothy had both negative and positive response to his malevolent behaviour. She seemed to enjoy it but simultaneously she was suffering  and eventually became diseased by Frank’s sadistic behaviour. The sexual roles in the film are reinvented or reversed like in Jeffrey’s case whose short affair with Dorothy was transforming him into an aggressive monster who was finding pleasure in beating his partner during sex. 
All characters are strong and have a different story to share. Of course the most mysterious ones are Dorothy and Frank. Frank was an abusive drug dealer, a violent man who only cared about his personal satisfaction in sex ignoring the fact he was destroying Dorothy's life. What could lead him though to such harsh actions? Was it the overdose of supplemental testosterone or the resulut of a chilhood riddled with parental mistreatment?
"In a film of extreme characters and daring performances, no-one is wilder than Frank, no characterisation more "out there" than that delivered by Dennis Hopper. Nearly two decades on, and with a string of self-parodic rent-a-nut job gigs from Hopper to taint the viewer's perception, Frank remains an astonishing creation. He is a terrifying individual, perverse and brutal, with the attention span and tantrum capacity of a small child."  (Fraser:1999)
As for Dorothy, her unstable nature is unexplainable. As Jeffrey was becoming more involved with her she was pleading him to extract more physical abuse on her.

FIG.3 Frank abusing Dorothy
The film also explores the transition from childhood to adolescence  through the contrast between Dorothy and Wendy, two women who come from a totally different background but share the same need: the need to be loved, cared and protected by a heart-warming man. Wendy represents the stage before entering the cruel reality of the world, the innocent, the inexperienced whereas Dorothy is the victim of the darker side of human nature.

To sum up, Blue Velvet requires strong constitution to watch. It is a journey to the underworld of bright cities, a story about adult-sexual awakening juxtaposed against violence and mental illnesses. The film offers a snock of recognision and catharsis to the audience.

Berardinelli, James(2002) Film Review At: ( accessed on 18/1/2011)
Fraser, Rob (1999) Film Review At: (accessed on 20/1/2011)

List of Illustrations
FIG.1: Film Poster At: ( accessed on 18/1/2011)
FIG.2: Film Still At: (accessed on 18/1/2011)
FIG.3 : Film Still At: (accessed on 20/1/2011

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