12.6.09

Blue Velvet

After the David Lapham episode, I decided to revisit this little film noir gem. My first visit didn't go too well. No one told me that I had to leave my irony radar at the door before entering the 'strange world' of Blue Velvet. Thus, I found quite a bit of it ridiculous, and consequently, hilarious. I mean: robins bringing in the light of love into our world? How can I take that seriously?

But you are supposed to take it seriously. This time round, I swallowed the bad dialogue, the stilted delivery, and the cheap mise en scène whole. It was all part of the weirdness Lynch weaves, asking the audience to step back and regard the piece as an artificial construct. The film is a self-conscious riff on classic film noir. It's meta up to the eyeballs.

So you get the noir theme -- in which evil, depraved impulses lurking within urban society (or, the animal in civilized man) are unearthed by an intrepid investigator. There is a femme fatale, Dorothy, who has had her blissful family life destroyed by a sadistic maniac. She herself succumbs to violent, destructive sexual fantasies (she's "infected by a disease"). The Adam and Eve of the story, Jeffrey and Sandy, are also dragged into the heart of human darkness, their shared curiosity leading to blossoming love. In the end, the mystery is solved, human evil is understood, and the three can reform their loving families and be happy.

But then Lynch adds all this surrealist, pop culture stuff on top. The insane psycho gang are cultural connoisseurs, obsessed with the theatrical, the cool, the left-field. They are seduced by art, becoming unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. They cannot contain the monsters that hide within their darkest dreams. This is the evil our heroes have to fight against. Art, especially the genre trash Hollywood comes up with, is artificial. Pretending that it's real can lead you down some dangerous roads.

Second visits are always sweeter than the first, especially when you're visiting David Lynch. Now I have to watch Mullholland Drive again...

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