Blue Velvet Analysis
David Lynch’s body of work shapes him as one of the strangest and most influential film directors. A great beleiver in discovering ideas through transendental meditation, he has the ability to communiate ideas through various elements of form, music and visuals. Making the meanings of his films always about discovery and never surface level.
Stanley Kubrick was also a beiliver in using cinema this way. Quote.
The opening moments of the film tell us everything we need to know about the films themes. The colour blue represents ‘secrets’ and by opening the curtains of the opening images it lets us know that we will be allowed into a world full of initmate personal detials. This is then supported by a series of shots, giving us the impression of a typical happy town with icnoic images and then telling us with visual information and great sound desgin that despite the image that is first seen, dark creatures lurk beneath the surface and will be explored throughout the film.
Along with the repeated colour blue signalling sercets across Lynch’s film, The use of a dog is a major turning point in his films. Like when Athony Hopkins character first approaches the elephant man, when Nicholas Cage character meets a troublesome character in wild at heart and when we see this dog approaching Jeffery’s father it is a signal to the audience that this event is life changing and will set all other events into motion. Most of the visual references that are mentioned will apply to all Lynch’s films, as he uses these elements often to get across meaning and emotion.
Dual worlds in one town
The world that is presented to us in Blue Velvet follows one of Lynch’s most commonly used theme, the idea of duality. The small town is literally split in half by ‘Lincoln Avenue’. This street splits the dark dingy crime filled side of town with the lighter side full of trees, children and schools.
Everything in the film has a mirrored opposite, like the cheery diner, represented in the lighter side by the dark smokey bar where Dorothey sings.
Even Characters have opposites, Sandy wears pinks and whites and has angelic blonde hair, having relativly normal relationships. She is mirrored in the form of Dorothy who dresses in black and blue, and is forced to engage in harmful relationships.
Both fathers are emasculated, Jefferys father looses his ear and coupled with the hose imagery, also dorotheys husband is humilated and killed. This couple be making a statement about weakness in father figures, also a theme through lynch’s work like his 1970 shirt film the grandmother.
Sandy’s father, the best of the good cops also has a mirror character in ‘the yellow man’ fulfilling similar roles for each sides of the town, but ironicly are led to each other as they are also partners. This is only discovered near the end of the film, when the two world begin to merge and reveal similarieties.
Even Sandys boyfriends gang mirror that of Franks thug, reinforcing the idea of this small town having opposites and a dual nature.
Jeffery and Frank
The reason this theme is appropriate related directly to Jeffery, the misdirection at the beginning of the film allows us to think of jeffery as inicint and curious but as the film continues we notice how disturbingly close he is to franks character.
Althgough returning to the small town because of his father, Jeffery is not from te lighter side of town and as the story unfolds his actions don’t represent that side, we see him getting closer and closer to thoughts, actions and relationships that frank would have.
The major turning point where frank and jerrefry begin to align is when jeffery gives in and beats dorothy the why frank, they begin to share the way in which they treat dorothy. Frank uses her to feel power and control and jeffery uses her to focus his mystery and secret thrill.
During the joy ride which brings frank and jeffery together we can see that jeffery is dressed in black and white, representing his double life. Short after Frank even calls out, ‘you’re like me’
In Lynchs films the painting of faces is to give a grotesque and frighting effect. We see this on Ben’s charcter, franks cohort as he sings ‘in dream.’ And this song is heard again when frank covers himself in lipstick to achieve the same effect. The meaning here can be found when he covers jefferey in the same lipstick and repeated ‘your like me’, all to make the point of revealing jefferys true nature.
Blue is used to represent secrets of this films, here are a few examples that reinforce Jeffery taking on a double like and secret persona.
Like the face painting and the use of dog which are common links in Lynch films to get across a smiliar meaning, the use of electricity can be linked with murder.
When the dead body is found we hear an electric drum in the background as a noticeable presence.
This can be seen again when frank is killled and the light bulb frazzles and bursts. Other examples of this can be see in Mullhland drive.
The visual theme that is repeated through the film and all Lynchs work is the use of fire to represent a wild and uncontrollble force, probably used most in wild at heart. This image is seen in blue velvet in the form of a candle, but the timing of is appreances adds meaning to link frank and jeffereys characters. The image is seen during forceful and initmate momnets with dorothry for frank, but when jeffery finally disiceds to beat her we are presented with the same image, connecting the tow through visual language.
Although not as blatant as in wild at heart the presence of a wizard of OZ theme can be noted at several points. Dorothy as a charcter mirros that of dorothy in OZ, both are removed from there world nd wish to return, Our blue velvet dorothy is a more twisted version and at one point even wears the iconic red shoes.
The final motheef used here is the screen being blown out to white often representing heaven or the presence of heavenly forces. This is seen near the end of the film when jeffery reachs sandys, possibly giving the meaning that despite the terrible events of the film love can conquour over evil. This message is reinforced with the closing image of a robin which has been reffered to as love eating the worm, which was used at the beginning of the film to repressent the darker and more horrible things lurking below the surface, telling us again that love can triumph over th darkness.
Blue velvet is a happy medium between his more tradionial films like the elephant man and the stright story and his more Lynchian work in Mullholand drive and Inland revenue. Despite the subjective interpretation of his films, they are so cinematic in nature that they always delve into our thinking and whether they are your type of film or not, they are so memorable that you can’t help but affected in some way.