Blue Velvet is a shocking, shocking movie. The desperation, exploitation, voyeurism, and flat out frightening sense of brokenness at times made this movie an uncomfortable one for me.
Matt Lynn Digital has a friend that lives near the airport, referenced once before in the Matt Lynn Digital blog about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Our airport friend ranks Blue Velvet (1986) as his eighth ranked film out of ten.
Blue Velvet Director and screenwriter is talented and distinctive director David Lynch. Oscar Award nominated for best director with Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man (1980), and Mulholland Drive (2001), this movie delivers perhaps the most forthright example of a director quickly hitting you with different deeply felt reactions one upon another upon another still. The powerful scenes of great emotion and, in some cases, significant artistry are meritorious.
Is Blue Velvet powerful? Sure. Redeeming in a way that resonated with me? I wish that I could say yes. That is to say that I am more of the Roger Ebert camp than of the Gene Siskel camp with regards to their At the Movies review of Blue Velvet (1986).
This siding with the feeling of Roger Ebert is to say that while I recognize the power of hurting the Isabella Rossellini character with full nudity on the sheriff’s front lawn, the pain I felt in her treatment there was intended to hurt and shame her as a character and actress more than it was to make a statement geared at redeeming some larger quality in Dorothy Vallens.
The larger commentary that Lynch may have been after in stating that everyone has darkness was lost in some way with the campiness that works better for a movie like Pulp Fiction, for example. The scene where Dean Stockwell plays Ben using a prop to daydream into the singing of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” seemed like a throw away scene for me. Even the ritualized rape of Vallens by Frank Booth (played by Dennis Hopper) seemed to lack a seriousness of treatment that such a thing deserves.
Alternatives to the attempted lighter fare that might have helped me could have included sticking more closely to the voyeurism storylines of Sandy Williams (played by Laura Dern) or Jeffrey Beaumont (played by Kyle MacLachlan). The pain that the treatment accorded to Dorothy Vallens and Sandy Williams in Blue Velvet seemed cruel in a way that lacked nuance of its own accord, or seriousness in tone considering the remainder of the storytelling. The constant assault of jokes around wood with regards to Lumberton did not help.
I respect the opinion of my airport friend in appreciating the quality of this film. I tend to agree that David Lynch brought forth a thought provoking examination of light versus dark, hope versus those more cynical impulses that dwell under the surface. Offering contrasts of up and down, more comical versus more repugnant, of curiosity versus experience, are quality questions to have raised. Lynch did so in a style that was uniquely his own, and for this I find praise. The bottom line is that I may not be the ideal audience for Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet is a shocking, shocking movie.
Matt – Tuesday, February 28, 2017