NOTE: Rather than doing a shot-by-shot analysis, as I do with the Kubrick, or using a number of images, I'm instead going to stick with text for Blue Velvet. Though links are forged with Lynch's other works and Blue Velvet as laying the ground for Twin Peaks, my primary focus is on the construction and revelation of the story--characters, place, action and meaning--in the hermetically sealed little world of the film and relationship to an audience that often expects the fiction it views to conform, even with suspension of disbelief, to a rational world, no matter how fantastic. However, two realities are constructed in the film. There is the one in which the viewer has been convinced that, however it is fiction, they are watching a "true" fiction, one that conforms to the laws of the real world. The other reality is that this isn't the case at all, that the fiction is not real and what happens in the fiction is so not real it is impossible according to the laws of the natural world. The latter makes room for untidy complexities that more ably reflect the human condition. Also, it can charge the sense of dream time that is naturally inherent in the theatrical/film space, and make for a more universally intimate and immediate experience. The root of the film is nothing less than the messy mystery of existence, and Lynch's endeavor to share, with his audience, his apprehension of this via Jeffrey.
Introducing a 1950s Garden of Amiable Delights Concealing a Boschian Hell
We are in Lumberton, the Parent of Twin Peaks
Do Not Cross
You're Not Going Down by Lincoln Are You? No, Emphatically Not
The Transition from a Man Walking His Dog, to the Ear, to Sandy Who Takes Jeffrey to Lincoln Street Despite Her Father Having Warned Jeffrey Away From the Case
Overture to a Courtship with Sandy
The Blind Man and His Guide: Double Ed
In a Red Oldsmobile 88 Convertible, Jeffrey Invades Sandy's Life and Sweeps Her Away From Her Friends
Jeffrey's Plan for Gaining Knowledge and Experience
The Problem of Dorothy's Seventh Floor Apartment, and How the Apartment Number Links to the Entrance to the Red Room in Twin Peaks
Jeffrey Masquerades as the Bug Man but Sandy Never Takes the Stage
She Really Does Love Mike
Blue Velvet with Antlers and Stag Beetle Mandibles
I Don't Know if You're a Detective or a Pervert
Contemplating the Peculiar Isolation of Dorothy's Apartment
In an Environment Similar to a Stage Set, Jeffrey is Denounced as Being a Voyeur
Blue Velvet and Van Gogh
You Have a Good Memory
Sandy's Dream of the Light in Response to Frank's Declaration of Darkness in Dorothy's Apartment and Jeffrey's Dream
The Persistence of Memory
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Film Continuity and the Screenplay
Jeffrey Loves a Good Mystery
Dorothy "Opens Herself" to Jeffrey and Allows Him to Enter Her and Abuses Her, and She Says She Now Has His Disease Within Her--The Difficulty of Unknotting the Psychology of a Fictional Construct
Was Frank in Love
Jeffrey Takes a Ride with Frank who Says He is Ever With Jeffrey in His Dreams
I Can't Help It, I Can't Help It If I Cry
Jeffrey Makes a Phone Call from the Office to Sandy Then Eats Breakfast With His Mother and Aunt Barbara
Gordon, the Yellow Man, is Detective Gordon
Jeffrey Meets with Detective Williams
Jeffrey Takes His Father's Place Watering the Lawn, and Visits His Father at the Hospital
Hope Lange as Sandy's Mother and Her Role in Peyton Place as a Teen Raped by Her Stepfather
Is That Your Mother?
The Well-Dressed Man, Mysteries Concerning the Scene at Dorothy's Apartment
The Disney-Reminiscent Puppet Robing is as Real as the Ending to the Fiction that is Blue Velvet
The Deleted Scenes
The film opens with the credits appearing over an undulating curtain of crushed blue velvet, yet not the "Blue Velvet" song to which it refers, the suspenseful music that does play instead evocative of film noire, the curtain an invitation to the mystery beyond that is here presented theatrically. Old cinemas, like theaters, used to have curtains that covered the movie screen and often times the movie screen was suspended above a stage. The blue curtain may be compared with the red one, in Lynch's Twin Peaks, that separates the "waiting room" of the Black Lodge from the everyday.
The first shot is a crossfade from the blue velvet curtain to a deeply saturated blue sky of near the same shade, annotated with a white cloud. The camera pans down so that we see a rich red rose before the triangular peaks of a white picket fence that one might interpret as first appearing as a painterly row of 9 little white houses with steeply angled roofs. Now "Blue Velvet" plays, a mid-twentieth century song about a woman with blue velvet eyes, who is dressed in blue velvet that recalls night, the stars, love, rapture, and how this is nothing but the warm residue of a memory. The version is that sung by Bobby Vinton, released in 1963 on the album "Blue on Blue". 1963 is the year President John F. Kennedy was shot, which I bring up here as in Twin Peaks Agent Cooper is deeply interested in the Kennedy case, and in the last episode of Twin Peaks: The Return Cooper and Diane ride in a 1963 model car as they cross over into some alternate reality.
When the row of red roses before the white picket fence is fully revealed, the scene cuts to a residential street with homes of pre mid-century, early 1900s architecture, spaced convivially and adorned with porches upon which people gathered in the summer in days before air-conditioning. It was a time when lives were laced together with well-tended sidewalks that cohered a community more intimately than vehicle-centric streets in anonymous suburbs. Embedded in a lush vegetation of landscaped bushes and large trees as old as the well-established neighborhood, we see a white house with a white picket fence and red roses. A bright red fire truck passes by, vintage 1949 rather than 1980s contemporary, with a black-and-white Dalmatian (likely deaf) perfectly posed on the running board next to an older fireman who, attired in blue, waves in slow motion at the camera. The scene is so nostalgically friendly and embracing that the viewer may not question the "why" of the presence of the fireman who is waving at them, the reason for this odd parade. In mid 20th century America, when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, nearly all little boys likely answered they wanted to be firemen or policemen, a response that reflected how they were daily reassured in schools and literature that such were the highest order of trusted community servants, and best friends to children. These professions communicated safety, yet also held the illicit appeal of danger and the potential to prove one's self a hero.
Twin Peaks: The Return opens, as well, with an enigmatic figure who will later be revealed as The Fireman, though known in the first two seasons of the show as The Giant. He encourages Cooper to remember a number that eventually is revealed as marking the place where he and Diane cross over into the alternate realm in the 1963 model car.
Crossfade to another white picket fence fronted by yellow tulips gently waving in the breeze. We have then a shot of children on a school crosswalk, backed by the gentle orange light of sunrise, the trusted figure of a crosswalk monitor, an elder woman, waving them across. The woman is dressed in 1980s sport pants, wind breaker and a neon orange vest, but the children all carry paper bags for their lunches, reminiscent again of a simplicity of earlier years.
The setting established now as 1980s, cut back again to the white house with red roses formerly seen in the shot with the fire truck. This is followed by what we assume to be perhaps a back yard shot of the same house. An older man in beige slacks and shirt and tan hat stands watering a roped off area of lawn. We see then a shot of a middle-aged gray-haired woman seated on a sofa in a living room, and assume this must be his wife. She is surrounded by kitsch knickknacks--an elfen figure in red on a side table before a lamp with an American Indian head base. On the coffee table before her are orange roses. We hear, "Bluer than velvet are her eyes." She drinks coffee or tea from a porcelain cup, wholly involved in watching a black-and-white show on a 1950s television. A gun enters the screen on the television. Cut back to the man in his backyard garden. We hear "Love was ours. Ours, a love I held tightly..." as the garden hose wraps, snakelike, around a branch, the water cutting off. The man jerks the hose. Then, the hose visually interpreting the song's lyric, as well as serving as metaphor for a stroke (the malady is undefined in the film but I will call it a stroke), the man suddenly reaches, grabs the back of his heck, and falls to the ground in the roped-off puddle of mud he was watering. Now unjammed, the hose ejaculates its stream of water vigorously again, spraying into the sky (inside, on the television, it's likely the gun has fired). An uncomprehending toddler, sucking on a red popsicle, wanders toward the scene as a small barking terrier leaps upon the man to play-attack the stream of water that shoots from his hip. Again, the camera slows, so the small dog's teeth become fangs, lending a primal air of threat. The music fades into a mysterious strident hum as Lynch cuts to an extreme close-up of the grass of the lawn and, hidden deep within its jungle fronds, the ferocious clash or foraging of beetles with wickedly threatening long mandibles. The settled peacefulness of the neighborhood camouflages and distracts from the relentless facts of illness, death, and a near alien sub-strata of conflict utterly divorced from human sympathies.
A commercial jingle hails, "Logs, logs, logs, clamor in the pines", as we view a "Welcome to Lumberton" billboard of a woman in 1950s blond hairdo and off-the-shoulder white ruffled top waving a friendly hello to the viewer as they are now formally introduced to the town Lumberton, named for the industry that built it and upon which it thrives and is provided its identity. We are shown the river that flows through the town, government buildings of Federal architecture on its far bank, the steeple of a church beyond. As the jingle ends, we hear a chain saw, and the WOOD radio DJ announces a sunny, woodsy day suitable for chainsawing.
"At the sound of the falling tree" the DJ announces, to the resounding crack of a felled tree, it's 9:30. The camera has cut to a young man in suit jacket who walks, seeming desultory, through a woodsy area. Seeing a shed surrounded by junk, perhaps reminded of a childhood pasttime, he stoops, picks up a rock, and throws it at a rusted barrel located amid the derelict tires and trash. His aim for the barrel misses and he doesn't try again, instead continuing on, stoop-shouldered. Lynch then returns to the heart of the town with a shot of the courthouse building, followed by a reasonably busy main street lined with brick businesses. We see a business called Barbary Coast (think pirates and slave traders) next a City Market Cafe. The ordinary is disrupted by the shot of a man who stands on a sidewalk twirling a bright metal object around his finger, a skeletal Halloween figure hanging on the shop door behind him. What makes the man unsettling is difficult to define, for he seems like an ordinary, small town, older man, but the manner in which he stands with legs splayed apart, belly jutting out, as he twirls the object, at the end of its string, around his finger, conveys a disconcerting absence of self-consciousness of presence. The viewer will not likely realize it but in this lack of self-consciousness of presence we have a forerunner of Dougie in Twin Peaks: The Return.
"Mr. Beaumont, your son Jeffrey's here to see you," a nurse cheerfully says as she crisply withdraws a hospital room's off-white curtain to reveal an ill, elder man, shirtless, his torso and head locked in place by so many nuts and bolts he appears partly mechanical. Jeffrey is the young man who had been crossing through the woods, and we now realize he had been on his way to the hospital to visit his father who was the individual cut down by a stroke while watering his lawn. Jeffrey scarcely conceals shock over the appearance of his father as Mr. Beaumont reaches his hand to him. Unable to speak, Mr. Beaumont begins to cry. The father, it seems likely, will live, but the thread that connects an Edenic reassuring past to a secure present is broken. If the trusted stability of a parent can be cut down, left mute, anything can happen. It's doubtful that life will ever be the same again.
The foundation of the story set, a young man confronted with not only his father's mortality but the horror of his parent becoming as though another person, Lynch cuts back to the woods, Jeffrey walking through them again, this time on his way back from the hospital. Coming upon the shack, he picks up another rock, ready to try again at the game of hitting the barrel. He throws, misses, and stoops to pick up another rock. He misses a second time. He stoops again and discovers, in the grass, the waxen, decaying remains of a severed ear crawling with ants. Rather than withdrawing in horror, Jeffrey has the presence of mind to collect and deposit the ear in a a paper sack he conveniently locates nearby. This paper sack should remind of the children with their paper lunch sacks on their way to school.
As Jeffrey picks up the ear, mixed in with the otherwise natural sounds of the woodsy area, we briefly hear what vaguely resembles the distant drone of a chainsaw.
What secrets has the shell of the ear heard and to what will its spiral lead? In the myth of King Minos seeking Daedalus, he postulated the problem of how a thread could be wound through a conch shell, believing that Daedalus would reveal himself by proposing an answer. This Daedalus did, solving the riddle by piercing a hole on a shell, anointing it with honey, then tying a thread to the leg of an ant who made its way through the shell to the honeyed hole. The mystery was solved but Daedalus was doomed.
We are shown the Lumberton Police sign decorated with a felled log. Within the police precinct, at a counter decorated with a cardboard mountain peak framed by two pine cones, Jeffrey stops to ask for a Detective Williams and is directed to room 221. Finding Williams, he introduces himself as Tom Beaumont's son, who he says Williams would know from Beaumont's hardware store. Also, the detective and the Beaumont family live nearby one another. Williams asks how his father is, and Jeffrey says he guesses, hopes he will be okay, that they are running tests. He then relates how he found an ear behind their neighborhood and Vista. The skeptical detective seems unfazed and even deadpan when the remains in the bag prove to actually be a human ear.
Rather than send Jeffrey along, Williams permits him to be present as the coroner examines the ear. The coroner informs them that the ear may belong to a person who is still alive, and that tests run on the ear will be able to tell a lot about the person.
Jeffrey's father is also having tests. Connecting scenes together in this way is very Twin Peaks Lynch, and sometimes these connections seem to form sensible relationships and sometimes they don't. Twin Peaks: The Return has a good deal of head trauma. At the end of this film, several individuals will suffer massive head trauma. One is an evil detective whose first name, as with Jeffrey's father, is Tom; another is a seductive chantreuse's husband, to whom the ear belongs; and yet another is the diabolical Frank who will become Jeffrey's nemesis during the course of the film.
As the mortician says the ear was cut off with scissors, Lynch cuts to scissors snipping yellow "POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS" tape that is being used to fence off the crime scene around the shed. Individuals comb neat parallel rows marked off by lines of cord, and one may be reminded of the cordoned area of the muddy garden plot into which Tom Beaumont, Jeffrey's father, had fallen when stricken.
Though the film opens with the problem of Jeffrey's sick father, the discovery of the ear will end up so involving Jeffrey that at film's end we will realize he has behaved almost throughout as if his father didn't exist. Whatever is the drama of Jeffrey's seeming emotional distancing from his ill father will be played out in his complete immersion in the mystery of the murdered ear.
A door at the top of a dark, narrow stairway opens, white light silhouetting Jeffrey as he exits and descends. In the living room, we see the gray-haired woman who would be his mother watching television, sitting on the sofa in the spot where she had been when her husband had his stroke. As when previously shown, despite her ill husband, she seems peaceful and unperturbed, but now it is night and she is accompanied by an elderly woman (Aunt Barbara) who sits on the opposite end of the sofa knitting. Jeffrey tells them he's going out for a while. His mother casually asks if he wants the car and he replies no, he's just going to walk around. Alarmed, the knitting woman sits forward and demands, "You're not going down by Lincoln, are you?" Jeffrey assures her he is not, he's just going to walk around, and exits out the kitchen. Satisfied, the knitting woman settles back, smiling. On the 1950s television, a mysterious pair of legs climbs a set of stairs.
As in fairy tales in which the hero or heroine is barred from opening a secret door, Jeffrey must of course violate the taboo and take the viewer to Lincoln Street. There is no story, otherwise.
This same knitting woman played the parts of the mysterious Mrs. Tremond/Mrs. Chalfont in Twin Peaks. As Mrs. Tremond she refused creamed corn, which alludes to Lynch's garbonzola, a food made of suffering, and had a grandson, played by Lynch's son, who played magical tricks. Donna visited her, delivering precooked meals for shut-ins. But later, when Donna returned, she found instead a younger Tremond who had no son and whose mother was dead. In Fire Walk With Me, with her grandson, Pierre, she gave Laura a painting for her room, by which Laura was seemingly delivered to the alternate realm of the Red Room. Mrs. Tremond also appeared in the Room Above the Convenience Store with her grandson. As Mrs. Chalfont, she lived at the Fat Trout Trailer Park with her grandson during the time when Teresa Banks was killed. The Agent Chet Desmond located beneath their trailer home a green-stone ring Teresa had worn, and promptly disappeared. Subsequent this, the Chalfont trailer disappeared. Agent Cooper was told that, peculiarly, some Chalfonts had lived in that spot previous to Mrs. Chalfont and her grandson.
At the end of Twin Peaks: The Return, when Cooper takes "Laura" home, as Carrie Page, rather than Mrs. Palmer answering the door, an Alice Tremond does, who purchased the house from Mrs. Chalfont.
The character reminds me a little of the grandmother in Lynch's film The Grandmother. Abused by his parents, a boy plants a seed in a bed, and from this seed grows a grandmother to whom he turns for solace. She eventually dies and he visits her in the cemetery.
Though she is called "Aunt Barbara", I imagine Barbara is instead a great-aunt, and as the great-aunt fulfills the grandmotherly role. Jeffrey's mother is largely an absent figure in Blue Velvet, not engaging her son in conversation. Instead, it is Aunt Barbara who has the speaking role. It is Aunt Barbara who raises the problem of Lincoln Street as a place to which she senses Jeffrey will be drawn, and as such is the person who initially cracks the door to its shadow world.
Jeffrey strolls down the peaceful, neighborhood sidewalk past a stocky man in sunglasses walking a small dog, suspenseful music making the scene eerie, the static man posed to be as peculiar as had been the individual twirling the threaded object around his finger before the store. He is a question mark that acts like a bump in an uneven sidewalk that causes one to trip. Lynch's camera then focuses on the dense foliage of the branches of a tree above Jeffrey as he walks along, his thoughts returning to the ear. The camera enters the ear's canal as into a dark cave. This musing transition is one that is vitally important, and will be revisited later after Jeffrey's adventure is ended.
Abruptly, Lynch cuts to Jeffrey introducing himself at the door of house 128. Detective Williams' wife, who had answered, warmly welcomes him inside. Then cut from the attractive, blond Mrs. Williams and Jeffrey to the camera zooming out from an oval frame that holds the rectangular shot of a smiling young blond woman, presumably the Williams' daughter. Again there is a bump in the sidewalk, because the viewer expects the photo to fit the frame but it does not.
Before the frame rests a duck decoy.
In his home office, Williams tells Jeffrey that he found something very interesting to them (the police), and he must be curious to know more, but he's going to have to ask him not to tell anybody about what he found and not to ask any further about the case, that when it's all sewn up he'll tell him the details. Jeffrey says he's just curious, and Williams (who, though at home, still wears his holstered gun) responds it was curiosity that got him into the business. When Jeffrey says it must be great, Williams says it is but it's also horrible. As Williams shows him out, Jeffrey thanks Williams' wife for a card for his father, and asks Williams and his wife to say hello to Sandy for him.
Returning a moment to the bump of the square picture in the oval frame, we have much the same in Twin Peaks: The Return with a picture of the family of Andy, Lucy, and their son, Wally, before a Christmas tree. A first glance may pass over it, but a second reveals that the faces are badly photoshopped into the image. We never learn the reason for this, but it feels psychologically important that the three faces of the family have been forced together in this way rather than appearing together naturally, and we are left to wonder at the mystery of why this is so.
Out on the front lawn, Jeffrey hears, "Are you the one who found the ear"?, as out of the deepest, blackest dark, to lush orchestral strings, emerges honey-haired Sandy dressed in a short-sleeved pink-striped shirtdress. Her lips pink as her dress, she projects angelic innocence; also the certainty of Jeffrey's introduction to the sweet blush and temptations of domestic romance. When Jeffrey asks her how she knows, she replies, "I just know, that's all", saying then she remembers him from Central (high school).
This conversation is slightly rephrased and reframed in Twin Peaks: The Return, when a boy in 1956 New Mexico walks a young teen girl home. She finds a lucky Lincoln penny, he extracts a kiss from her, and later the bizarre entity of a frog-locust exits the desert and enters that mouth which is still dreamily excited by the kiss. While he was walking her home, the girl had asked the boy if he lived in town, by the school? He said he did and asked how she knew. "I just do," she had responded, then asked him if he was still going with a girl named Mary, to which he replied that he wasn't. Like Sandy, the girl "just knows", as if she has a psychic apprehension, but then Sandy reveals to Jeffrey that her bedroom is above her father's office and we understand this is how she has heard things.
Yet it is still peculiar, isn't it, the way in which Sandy floats in from the black, as if summoned by the brief attention given her square picture in the oval frame. Peculiar, too, that despite Sandy's angelic deportment, she is the one who delivers Jeffrey to Lincoln Street and the dark side.
Sandy walking with Jeffrey, as they pass by where the man had stood with his dog, under the tree's canopy in which Jeffrey had his reverie about the ear, Sandy tells him that the ear seems to be associated with a couple of cases she mixes up but one concerns a woman singer who lives in an apartment building near him and the field where the ear was found. He asks her to take him there and she readily serves as escort.
As they approach the apartment building, an old 1950s car drives by, young men cat-calling from it, "Hey, baby", which is unusual to have happen when a woman is accompanied by a male. When a woman is with a man, she is often seen as out-of-bounds; it's when she is alone that she is more likely to be harassed. Neither Sandy nor Jeffrey react, ignoring an event that is perhaps intended to signal to us they are now in a questionable area. In small town America, an apartment building, a multi-family dwelling of renters, especially at that time, would often have seemed an unusual and exotic place to those used to a single family dwelling. A single family dwelling would mean a certain amount of stability, while renters were mysterious as transients and perhaps not as financially privileged.
Sandy points out the building, of which we see the bottom three floors, telling Jeffrey that the woman lives on the seventh floor. As they leave, the camera pans up to show they are at Lincoln Street. The music punctuates the street sign with a nod to the ominous.
One will have noticed that Lincoln came up in association with the girl in Twin Peaks: The Return who found the lucky penny, only to be later entered by the frog-locust. The discovery of the Lincoln-head penny is followed by the supernatural appearance of the frightening woodsman who looks like Lincoln. Appearing out of nowhere in the desert, he takes over a radio station, inflicting deathly head injuries on the individuals present, and replaces the love song that's being played with his chant, "This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes, dark within." His chant causes listeners either to pass out or become mesmerized and fall into a deep sleep. This is what happens to the girl who found the Lincoln penny. She falls into a deep sleep and opens her mouth to the frog-locust whose arrival in the New Mexico desert was coincident with the arrival of the Lincoln man.
Lincoln also appears at a strategic moment in Twin Peaks. His profile is observed on a bulletin board at the high school just prior the announcement of Laura Palmer's death. It appears beneath a light bulb and question mark, and so is decidedly connected to the woodsman who speaks of darkness and asks individuals if they've, "Got a light?"
As we shall see, Lincoln Street is associated with a darkness that may only be dispersed by the light of love.
As Sandy turns her back to the camera, beckoning Jeffrey away from Lincoln Street, we see that her pink and white striped shirtdress has a triangle awkwardly cut out of the back, which one might take as a nod to some 1980s fashions that had cut-outs, and comes off as a chastely daring baring of skin, but one wonders if the use of the downward-pointing geometric is more complex.
Leaving Lincoln Street, as they pass a darkened house Jeffrey tells Sandy he once knew a boy who lived there who had the biggest tongue in the world. Now the kid is gone, moved away, as are all his old friends. Jeffrey, called home due his father's illness, expected to work at the family hardware store, feels left behind, but we never find out what life he has been called home from and may simply assume he was at college because of his age (in the screenplay, he was indeed at college). Lightening the mood, he asks Sandy if she knows the Chicken Walk, then after showing her and provoking a laugh, he briefly brushes his arm across her back, but does not follow through with an embrace though she doesn't start away. That is enough for now, to see what her reaction might be and that she doesn't reject that brief contact.
The exterior of Beaumont's hardware store, where Jeffrey is working while his father is ill. Then the interior. As a man calls out, "Coffee time", cut to a close-up of a red-tipped white cane tapping the ground past a display of curled garden hoses. The cane is revealed as belonging to a blind black man in sunglasses who is an employee of the store. With another black employee behind him, who assists in guiding him, he enters the rear of the store where Jeffrey labors putting together a bugspray apparatus, Jeffrey calling out, "Hey, Double Ed." On the wall is an innocent pin-up that features two blond girls in blue bikinis who are back to back, seeming an intentional play on doubles as well. Even finishing sentences for one another, the two men seem to form a whole.
Jeffrey asks where the overalls are (that are worn when one is exterminating) and is told they are where they always have been, rolled up on the bottom shelf.
This is another prime example of how Lynch's poetic language, visually and with word play, builds connections from scene to scene in a film. The connections do not always seem fluid or sensible, and may even seem extraneous, yet they are there. The garden hose at the beginning, which became knotted and associated with Jeffrey's father's stroke, was followed by the close-up of the warring beetles in the grass. Again, we have garden hoses, but all neatly coiled on a bottom shelf. Jeffrey is looking for the overalls to wear when exterminating bugs and is told they are rolled up on the bottom shelf. There really is no reason to mention that they are "rolled up" on the "bottom shelf" except to forge a link with the garden hoses on the bottom shelf, thus the garden hose that had become twisted coincident with Tom Beaumont's stroke, and subsequently the vicious, alien beetles in the grass. The blind Ed in his dark sunglasses also takes us back to he man the previous night who wore sunglasses while walking his dog. The man walking the dog had felt peculiar, out of place, and the reason for his presence can only begin to find some sensibility as the movie progresses and other sympathetic connections reveal the intentionality of his placement.
A parallel may be found between the individuals, in Twin Peaks: The Return, who collapse or fall asleep while listening to the chant of the Lincoln man, which follows a love song, and the collapse of the elder Tom Beaumont while the audience hears "Blue Velvet". Do the individuals in Twin Peaks ever really awaken or are they trapped in a peculiar state of suspension though they may walk and talk later? Tom Beaumont, rendered immobile, can't talk, and it is during this period of time that Jeffrey's dangerous adventures transpire. Rather than Tom Beaumont being a protective force, danger that had been held in check coming to the fore when he is inhibited, it may be instead that Jeffrey's adventure is an essential exploration of secrets buried by his elders, things too dark for them to face themselves, which they have endeavored to conceal from their children in their illusory idyll. He does say as much later.
Jeffrey holds up his hand and asks Double Ed how many fingers he is showing. We barely glimpse the sighted Ed rapidly tap the back of the blind Ed's shoulder four times, and the blind Ed says four. Jeffrey supposedly has not seen this and exclaims he still doesn't know how he does that. This too takes us back to the previous evening when Sandy guessed Jeffrey was the one who found the ear and he wondered how she knew. There was the hint of the supernatural, that she was psychic, which would be in keeping with the drama of her appearing out of the dark, but she eventually revealed she was able to hear conversations in her father's office as her bedroom was above. Later, Jeffrey made a tentative overture of embracing her back after performing his chicken walk. Now we have the blind Ed who would appear to have extrasensory perception, able to see though blind, but the audience knows it is a gimmick that involves the sighted Ed mutely signaling with taps on the shoulder. No magic is involved. Leaving the scene, one may wonder at Jeffrey's naivete, his delighted inability to grasp the trick, his enthusiastic openness to the belief that Ed has extrasensory perception, his blindness perhaps even considered as enabling it. But though rational explanations are given both with Sandy and Ed in Blue Velvet, supernatural interventions become a matter of course in Twin Peaks, the Giant/Fireman a spiritual messenger, and Cooper ever on the alert for guiding signs.
Jeffrey has his fair share of youthful, awkward quirk, but he is also the young man who has ventured into the outside world, and though he is now home he is one who has gone beyond and briefly escaped the pedestrian confines of Lumberton. When he pulls up outside Central High School, in the red convertible (which is not his but the family car), to invite Sandy to go with him to Arlene's diner, of course his presence causes a mild commotion amongst the friends with which she was walking.
Sandy, who was dressed in a pink striped shirtdress the prior evening, wears a pink cardigan over a loose white top, a full gray and white skirt, and white flats. Pink plastic barettes hold back her blond hair. Surveying the clothing of the students on the lawn, the girls almost all seem to be in dresses and skirts just past knee length, cut full, the colors more muted than loud. There are no punk rockers, no mohawks; no fashions veer even a quarter of an inch away from what what is so solidly conservative 1980s that the unrest and progressivism of the 1960s and 70s could have only happened in a far away land.
This does not seem the place for Jeffrey who wears a gold ring, however unobtrusive, in his left earlobe. Jeffrey's nature has hints of the outlier.
It could be posited that, in Lumberton, one of the only concessions to social/cultural shifts away from the 1950s is the very occasional presence of a black individual. But this presence, too, helps to communicate a safe environment, that there are positive ways in which Lumberton has moved along with the times but has maintained a contented homogeneity nostalgically prized by white, conservative America as a "Leave it to Beaver" golden age. Lynch takes care not to overtly connect the small town sunniness of Lumberton with politics and ideologies. There are no Ronald Reagan bumper stickers and no one will be yelling about communism on the street corner. A residue of McCarthyism would suggest that the denizens of this small town feel their daily lives are threatened by forward-moving social forces, and that's not the kind of danger Lynch wants us to feel. It's not the kind of danger he wants his 1980s audience, who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, to feel.
This homogeneity and security does not mean that everyone will feel safe--for there are those in the audience who would be uncomfortable in the nostalgic, contented, restrictive homogeneity of Lumberton. But they understand why Lumberton is depicted as it is for sake of this story that is about denial.
Jeffrey tells Sandy he needs to talk to her about something. She entreats her friends "not to tell Mike", so that we learn she has a likely steady boyfriend. She tells them this isn't what they think, and they smile knowingly, in accord with the audience, aware that if Sandy gets in that red convertible with Jeffrey then something is indeed on its way to going on.
Jeffrey functions much like Cooper who comes along and sweeps high schooler Audrey Horne off her feet, though she is a very different character from Sandy and Audrey and Cooper never become intimately involved.
In his Oldsmobile 88, Jeffrey may remind of Jeffries, in Twin Peaks: The Return, who in his alchemical retort rearranges the mysterious symbol of Owl Cave to be a figure eight that represents eternity, its twists and turns a timeline that folds back upon itself, by means of which he is able to deliver Cooper to a date in the past and a place where he will find Judy. By means of the figure 8 he may return to a place in the past in order to save Laura Palmer and rewrite the history of the world, past, present and future. And he has no idea what this ultimately means.
An exterior shot of Arlene's Diner, a "Rose" ice truck in front and then a logging truck moving between it and the camera. Though a red brick building with orange frilled curtains at the entrance, with the logging truck one recognizes here a precursor of the Twin Peaks Double R Diner. Soft, snap-finger jazz, much like that in Twin Peaks, briefly accompanies as we see Jeffrey and Sandy seated in an orange booth at a light sage green formica table. A waitress places down before Jeffrey a sandwich. Not like Twin Peaks, the pair have sodas, not coffee.
After the waitress leaves, Sandy questions what they're doing there. Jeffrey replies, "There are opportunities in life for gaining knowledge and experience. Sometimes it's necessary to take a risk." Jeffrey then makes his case for the possibility of learning a lot from the singer's apartment by sneaking in, hiding, observing. His plan is to get into her apartment and open a window that he can crawl into later. The disguise of the pest control man is how he hopes to get into the apartment. Once he is inside, Sandy's role will be to knock on the door and pretend to be a Jehovah's witness, during which time he'll open a window. He has even brought along some "Awake" magazines to support Sandy's ruse. He insists no one will suspect them as they don't look the type to do anything like this.
Such is Lumberton, that the norm of dress and hairstyles means that all Sandy needs are some "Awake" magazines and she, in her school clothes, could possibly be a Jehovah's witness.
The symbolism of the magazines being titled "Awake" shouldn't be overlooked.
Sandy, who began with a firm no, then shifted to saying it sounded like a good daydream, is finally talked into participating though she had felt it too dangerous. She seems to have been convinced by the fact they don't look the type to do anything like this.
Jeffrey's naivete displays itself again in his trust that the singer will be at home to let him in, that if he opens a window it will not be closed before he returns, that there will be something to be observed in the necessarily brief time he would hide in the apartment, that he will be able to hide himself with ease and then exit with ease, that what is a preposterous plan has any merit to it at all. As for Sandy? Jeffrey's positivism is much like Cooper's will later be in Twin Peaks, his plans nearly impossible to curtail even when not understood or accepted. Like Cooper, Jeffrey isn't one who readily takes "no" for an answer.
The problem of the singer's seventh floor apartment is that it doesn't exist. The night before we were shown only the first three floors, then as Sandy said the singer lived on the seventh floor Lynch had cut to the upper floors of the building rather than panning the camera up to show them. The only time we have a full view of the building is now, from half a block down a side street, through a canopy of trees. The viewer may not realize that there are only six floors, having been told there are seven, but though our view is obscured, it is clear enough that only six floors are evident. This is crucial and I don't believe it's an accident of site location not quite fitting the screenplay's bill and the audience being expected not to notice. Two realities in the film are constructed. There is the one in which the viewer has been convinced that, however it is fiction, they are watching a "true" fiction, one that conforms to the laws of the real world. The other reality is that this isn't the case at all. Fiction is not real and what happens in the fiction is so not real it is impossible according to the laws of the natural world.
Jeffrey drives up the side street alongside of a church, after which there is a cut, with suspenseful music, to show the name of the apartment building: Deep River. Does this refer to the river upon which the town is situated? There is foreboding even in this name, though we're not confident why. A deep river is simply a deep river and can mean smooth river trade with no threat of a boat being stuck in shallows or a sandbar. But Lynch's use is intended to stir some anxiety over deep waters and what lurks unseen at river's bottom, where all that descends is lost.
In the car, Jeffrey instructs Sandy to give him three minutes before she knocks on the door. As they get out of the car Jeffrey asks what the woman's name is and Sandy tells him, "Dorothy Vallens, seventh floor". She tells him to look on the mailbox for the number. Jeffrey repeats, "Dorothy Vallens seventh floor". That impossible seventh floor is thus pointed out several times to the audience immediately after they have seen the building and that it only has six floors.
Jeffrey enters the dim lobby of the apartment building where we see a blinking elevator sign. The names of residents are in white letters on a black board.
SHAW B 405
S()E()NS G ()05
STYLES D 601
TANTAR E 302
T RASK N 201
VALLENS D 710
VELANI T 309
Lynch places some importance in numbers and has transferred this to Cooper in Twin Peaks. It may be that Dorothy's apartment number is 710 so that it adds up to 8.
710, overturned, is also OIL. Oil marks the entrance to the Red Room in Twin Peaks. The smell of burning oil means the presence of dark, sinister forces.
Jeffrey checks the elevator only to find a sign stating it's out of order. "PleaSE use StaiRS." We hear what sounds like an electric buzz or static, and in Lynch world the sound of electricity is a signal of supernatural doings, that an alternative realm is intruding.
With the elevator out of service, already we've a kink in Jeffrey's carefully thought out plan that was spoken with such confidence but was exceedingly problematic and should have been no more than a flitting daydream. His plan is one that belongs to somene who has grown up on Hardy Boys books, who doesn't yet think of themselves as an adult committing several criminal offenses for sake of observing in order to gain knowledge and experience.
A dull roar fills the air as Jeffrey exits the building to mount the stairs at the rear. The previous night, when Jeffrey had gone out, warned to stay away from Lincoln Street, as he left the Beaumont home we had seen on the mid-century television screen a pair of feet ascending a flight of stairs. It is as if it was destined that Jeffrey would go to Lincoln, and that he must ascend the stairs.
Supposedly attaining the seventh floor, he enters a door over which a blue light shines, a bricked up window to the side. Inside, the seventh floor is dim, its walls a deep gray, and there is no seeming external light source. Jeffrey goes right down a hall and comes to Dorothy's door, which is a heavily soiled white. In response to his knock, Dorothy promptly--probably too quickly--answers. Who is she expecting? Whereas Sandy is blond, dresses in pastels and communicates innocence (though not so much that she didn't permit herself to become involved in Jeffrey's scheme), Dorothy has curly dark hair, rouged cheeks, bright red lips, and wears a dark red dressing gown. She also has an accent that would be exotic for Lumberton. She is a woman from far away. She is not a homegrown American. She is not from Lumberton. She is an outsider.
She is also Lynch's lover, and the daughter of the beautiful Ingrid Bergman who America loved and then against whom America viciously turned due her relationship with Roberto Rossellini, by whom she had a child while still married to her first husband.
She lets Jeffrey in though she complains bug spray stinks.
The hall of the building, and the main room of Dorothy's apartment, has reminded me of some circa 1980s movie theaters, which I will get into later. But to describe the apartment. Our first view is of Jeffrey entering the living room with the kitchen beyond. The cabinetry, detailings, the sink and layout of the kitchen suggest the building is perhaps from the 1920s/30s, but has some seeming updates such as a curvaceous bar area separating the kitchen from the living room. That bar area is dark wood and has a distinctly retro deco flavor. Though vintage art deco and art deco retro stylings were popular in the 1980s, this interior design is not like anything one would find in an apartment building in a questionable area of town, not even in any rental apartment anywhere, and certainly not in small town America. Rental apartments are often painted an off-white, such as is the color of the kitchen, but this one's living room is saturated with mauve, the woodwork dark brown. The walls are mauve. The plush carpet is mauve. The sofa is a cross between taupe and mauve. Between one end of the sofa and the wall is a quarter circle shape that has no other purpose than to be retro art deco decorative. A black enameled screen with images likely intended to invoke the "orient" stands at the other end of the sofa. Across the room from the sofa is a light-colored chair and a blond wood old television set. (We are not yet given a view of the side of the living room closest the door. When we do, we shall see that it too has a like sofa pushed up against a quarter circle shape that is part of the decorative woodwork of the room.) As with the interior design, the furnishings have a deco sensibility. Style is all, whereas the apartment as a home is null and void. Though a light green shawl has been left on the sofa there is otherwise almost nothing in the apartment that speaks to the detritus of daily life. There is no clutter. No papers. No magazines. No books. The kitchen counters are nearly empty except for a container of powdered instant coffee and what may be a bottle of aspirin. The green shawl on the sofa, on screen right, seems placed to balance the curious ornament of what are three green limes on the left kitchen bar.
There are two windows and neither provides a view of the exterior world. The only window in the living room faces a brick wall that is part of this apartment building rather than a neighboring one. The kitchen window's glass is either muted with frosted glass or so dirty that it permits in only a soft light punctuated with a few indecipherable shadows.
Dorothy leans against the television as Jeffrey sprays the kitchen. When there's a knock on the door, she springs to answer it. Jeffrey starts, assuming it is Sandy, but when Dorothy answers the door we see not Sandy but a burly man in a yellow jacket. The man noticing Jeffrey, Dorothy tells him, "It's only the bug man."
Jeffrey is the "bug man". His mission is to spy on Dorothy, which fits in with his being the "bug" man, a spy. Also, though Jeffrey is there to kill bugs, he is also the "bug man" and we should be reminded of the vicious looking stag beetles in the grass, and the ants crawling all over the severed ear.
The two step out of sight, toward the door. Jeffrey, realizing his opportunity to find a window he can open is likely lost, has just enough time to grab a key ring he's noticed hanging under a counter before Dorothy enters again, the man in the yellow jacket having left. Saying he's finished, Jeffrey also leaves.
Outside, on the stairs, Jeffrey finds Sandy who tells him she was about to go to the door when the man did the job for her. Neither Sandy nor Jeffrey got a good look at him but Jeffrey says the guy sure got a good look at him. He shows Sandy the keys he thieved, not being able to get to a window.
Down at the car, to a plucked bass, Jeffrey politely, a true native of Lumberton, opens the passenger door for Sandy before climbing into the driver's seat. She asks what's next. He says he wants to try to get into the apartment tonight, but it's Friday, does she have a date? She does. For him to have taken for granted she was free would have been rude, so he didn't assume as much, but he was also fishing to see if she has a boyfriend. He gives her a poor puppy dog look, says, "Well, that does that" and starts the car. As they drive, he assures Sandy he doesn't want her to get involved anyway, though he also does, but it's too dangerous as she had herself pointed out what they are probing may involve a murder. By the time they stop before her house, Sandy decides that she will tell Mike she is sick that night, but "for the record" she lets Jeffrey know that she loves Mike. To which Jeffrey doesn't respond other than to keep a dour look on his face. Then when Sandy asks what they're going to do, he smiles and enthusiastically turns to her saying that first they'll have "a really nice dinner", which doesn't sound like a young man who feels he must write Sandy off as a prospect as she is already involved. Where does Dorothy sing? Sandy tells him at The Slow Club on Route 7. Great. he'll pick her up at about 8. No, Sandy doesn't want her dad to see him so she arranges instead to meet Jeffrey at his house. Their secret conspiracy set, they part.
Not only did Sandy consent to helping Jeffrey that day, despite his facetious protestations that she shouldn't be involved she has agreed to help him that night, and is now willing to lie to her parents and boyfriend. Things are going well, indeed!
The well-worn way to view the romance of Sandy and Jeffrey is that theirs was a mutual interest that ended up blossoming by virtue of their scheming to learn more about the ear and Dorothy. There is, however, another way to interpret it. Jeffrey and Sandy did already display a mutual attraction the night before, but without their secret scheme there might not have been the opportunity for them to get together. Hence, their sleuthing is the bond they create that provides them the excuse of seeing one another. That they are seeing each other, even as cohorts, is in itself a taste of the forbidden, of transgression. That this conspiracy between them is even possible, however, is because Sandy has been listening in, she has tuned her ear to the mysteries going on in the office beneath her bedroom, and her curiosity found a resonant ping in Jeffrey's curiosity that he has not likely examined in order to understand what makes for curious investigation (essential to critical thinking, to understanding one's world) and what makes for a destructive voyeurism.
Night. We see "The Slow Club" in pink neon letters wrapped in red...and surrounded by antlers. Yes, real deer antlers. Inside the club, already having transgressed with this secret scheme and the lies needed to make it happen, the underage Sandy permits herself an illegitimate Heineken. For a high school girl, she is probably dressed to "the nines", her blond hair pulled up, curls escaping that softly adorn her neck. She wears pink again, a soft mohair sweater that is sensual in texture (the cut of which is much like a black one I owned at that time). A little diamond or crystal pendant shines out in the dark against the pink. Jeffrey has them toast, "Here's to an interesting experience", while in the background we see both middle-aged and elderly individuals who wear ordinary clothing, the club not posh but seeming to be a very casual bar in which nearly everything is a beer advertisement. But perhaps to Jeffrey and Sandy this adventure does amount to a really nice dinner. When Jeffrey says he likes Heineken and asks Sandy if she does, she must confess she's never had it before. This is because she's too young to drink. Then when Jeffrey expresses surprise, Sandy excuses herself as never having had a Heineken because her dad drinks Bud. She doesn't realize how this answer betrays her relative innocence.
As for Jeffrey, in the 1980s, the Heineken is his claim to sophistication, a person of enlightened experience.
The emcee calls out "Ladies and gentlemen, the blue lady, Dorothy Vallens", as the camera cuts to a stage of a type that would never be found in such a club. The stage is quite large, long and deep, backed with red curtains that span the full length of the stage (on a practical level, this takes up real estate that bar owners aren't willing to sacrifice). The elder band members are dressed in tuxes. There's an acoustic bass. Instead of an electric piano there is an acoustic grand. The mic is a vintage ring mount carbon microphone. None of this is even remotely normal.
Having been announced, dressed in a black lace dress with a deep cut back, Dorothy takes the stage. Turned away from the audience, her arms wrapped around her so her hands embrace her back, Dorothy begins to sing "Blue Velvet". She faces the audience and the camera cuts to Jeffrey who is immediately fascinated, which is either much to Sandy's consternation, that Dorothy has become the focus for Jeffrey, or Sandy is simply made uncomfortable by the sensuality Dorothy exudes.
The screen audience might expect a riveting performance. But Dorothy's voluptuousness and erotic appeal, which is intentionally awkwardly, flatly played and portrayed, is all that recommends her to the stage. Other than her accent, which might seem glamorous in this setting, her voice is weak and toneless. She isn't a good singer and even in a town like Lumberton one might wonder how she came to be a featured performer unless she had criminal connections who were backing and pushing her.
Isabella Rossellini helpfully describes her vision of Dorothy being a person who was once perhaps glamorous, but is now broken.
Making a theme of the antlers that surrounded the neon sign of The Slow Club outside, a large pair of Longhorn steer horns decorate the front of the stage at Dorothy's feet--and it may to occur to us that these antlers and steer horns are reminiscent of the ferocious looking mandibles we'd seen on the beetles in their grass jungle. The association is appropriate as our first hearing of "Blue Velvet", when Jeffrey's father suffered the stroke, was followed by the revelation of the beetles, with their long mandibles, concealed in the grass beneath the feet of any who tread the lawn. Now, Dorothy stands with the steer horns at her feet.
Cut from "Blue Velvet" to a song later in the evening. Dorothy has changed into a high neck, sleeveless black dress, and all instruments have been removed from the stage but for the piano. She sings a David Lynch lyric, "...shadows fall so blue. As lonely as a blue, blue star." Before she finishes, according to their plan, Sandy and Jeffrey leave so they may get to Dorothy's apartment before she does. As she finishes her song, completing her performance, Dorothy turns her back to the audience. The blue stage light that had shone on her is extinguished, her head profile falls into shadow, and this too is a pointedly clumsy moment rather than seamless and graceful.
Why is it called The Slow Club? I think it's likely this is a play on sloe (as in sloe gin), which means blue or blue-black. Dorothy is the blue lady in the blue club where she sings of blue velvet, blue shadows, blue stars. Of course, the DNA of this club can later be found, with its red curtains, in both the Red Room of Twin Peaks as well as the roadhouse, the Bang Bang Bar.
Jeffrey and Sandy make their way to the Deep River apartment building in tense silence. When Jeffrey parks before it, Sandy, who has had second thoughts, the singer now a real woman to her, warns him that he shouldn't do this, that it's crazy and dangerous and she should never have told him about Dorothy. Jeffrey dismisses her concerns but allows he doesn't think Sandy should stay. Though formerly they hadn't wanted Jeffrey to be seen before Sandy's house, he tells her to return to her house in his car and leave it there for him. He says he will tell her how everything went when he sees her the next day. When Sandy interrupts that she doesn't want to see him, as she and Mike are getting together, he visibly deflates, but is relieved when he asks if he can call and Sandy says yes.
Sandy says she will wait until Dorothy arrives and then honk four times as a signal so Jeffrey will be prepared.
"I don't know if you're a detective or a pervert," she tells him.
To which Jeffrey replies, not without some discomfort, "That's for me to know and you to find out."
Again, Jeffrey take the rear steps up to the seventh floor, which he must do throughout the film, the elevator never fixed.
We are given a second opportunity to look at the context of Dorothy's apartment, so let's examine it.
The door from the exterior staircase opens directly onto the hall on which Dorothy's apartment is situated to the right. This we have previously observed, and that this hallway, to the left, deadends into another hall that appears to run behind Dorothy's apartment where the kitchen would be. That hallway isn't one that runs along an exterior wall as we see an apartment door on it facing us.
Jeffrey knocks on Dorothy's door then moves to the right of it. Now we are permitted to see that just as that hall deadends to the left into another hall, on the right, immediately beyond Dorothy's door, the hall deadends onto another hall that cuts left and runs behind the wall of her living room facing the kitchen, also her bedroom. We see on that hall the elevator door on the right. We also dimly see that this hall ends on another that is parallel the hall on which Dorothy's apartment is situated, and that it appears to go behind it.
In other words, it seems that Dorothy's apartment is situated in a block that is framed on all sides by halls. If we can trust the suggestion that these halls surround Dorothy's apartment, then it is entirely isolated from the outside world, and the two windows we see in the living room and kitchen are impossible. None of the rooms in her apartment could possibly have exterior windows.
During this section we will be given a view of the other rooms in Dorothy's apartment and in none will we see any windows at all. Jeffrey's original plan, to open a window by which he would later gain entry, would have been impossible as there are no windows to the outside. This revelation is intentional on Lynch's part as he need never have shown any hall other than the one on which Dorothy's door is situated. That Dorothy's apartment is isolated in this way fits in with it being located on a seventh floor that doesn't exist. As I stated earlier, two realities in the film are constructed. There is the one in which the viewer has been convinced that, however it is fiction, they are watching a "true" fiction, one that conforms to the laws of the real world. The other reality is that this isn't the case at all. Fiction is not real and what happens in the fiction is so not real it is impossible according to the laws of the natural world.
Lynch has stated that Kubrick's films are ones he can watch over and over again, and Kubrick in the same fashion locates his characters in situations that are otherworld but appear natural.
As this section unfolds, we will increasingly have the sense of Dorothy's apartment as a theatrical set, which will give an opportunity to explore the relationship of the film's action to the audience.
After knocking on Dorothy's door to ensure no one's home, then checking out the far right hall, Jeffrey tries the keys he'd thieved from the kitchen. The first one doesn't work. The second one does.
Out of black the living room of the apartment fades in dimly as Jeffrey enters. We see, in the kitchen, the white of the old refrigerator dimly haloed by an unknown light source (an under the cabinet light is later observed), this white light backing the sensual curves of a large black vase on the bar. Jeffrey progresses from the living room into a hall at the end of which is the bathroom that is also dimly lit by an unknown light source. He opens a door on the right and views Dorothy's bedroom in the dark, the unmade bed draped in red, and her disheveled vanity. He opens the opposite door and we see a child's white wrought iron bed and a few toys in a smaller dark room. Lynch gives us a close-up of a whirligig hat, a little propeller set atop a blue cone decorated with stars and musical notes.
Down on the street, Sandy watches as Dorothy arrives home, escorted by an unknown man. She honks the horn but Jeffrey is in the bathroom relieving himself of the effects of the Heineken and as he flushes the toilet he doesn't hear the prearranged signal.
A close-up of the very high polish of Jeffrey's black patent shoes as they cross the living room carpet. He hears the front door open. The light cuts on. He quickly ducks into the first of two closets with double louvered doors. Between the slats he watches as Dorothy, who has thanked Jimmy, her escort, enters alone, we now availed a view of the side of the room closest the door, the sofa pressed against the quarter circle, a blond art deco radio at the sofa's other end. There is also another sitting chair and an end table decorated with an art deco/nouveau lamp. Dorothy slips off her black dress. Dressed in black bra and panties and red heels, looking weary, slumped, her body not drawn up to its full height, this very human woman approaches the closet in which Jeffrey hides.
Jeffrey is saved from being discovered by the phone. It rings and Dorothy rushes to answer it.
DOROTHY: Yes, sir. Frank? Frank, let me talk to him. Please, Frank, sir. I like to sing "Blue Velvet". Don, Don, it's all right, don't worry. Don, Don, can you hear me? Is little Donny all right? Is he there with you? Don? You mean Meadow Lane? Frank! Frank, what's the matter with him? I know, I'll be sweet. Mommy loves you. OK, Frank, sir.
Dorothy speaks with at least two individuals, Frank, who she addresses as an authoritative "sir", and Don. She may also have been permitted to speak with her son, but this will later be uncertain as we will find that Frank likes baby talk and addresses Dorothy as "mommy".
The phone hung up, distraught, Dorothy dives down and pulls out from under the sofa a framed picture. After looking at it, she briefly collapses on the carpet (between two circles on the carpet that almost look like they could operate as stage marks), then removes her wig and goes to the bathroom where she strips down. She reaches over and all goes dark. An indeterminate amount of time passes in an instant.
Draped with a red towel, wearing the wig again, Dorothy returns and opens the door to the closet in which Jeffrey hides, he pressing himself to the side. She takes out a dark blue velvet dressing gown, which has a light blue liner, and closes the closet door. Putting on the gown, sitting on the sofa, she hears from within the closet the sound of a hanger falling. Cautiously, she goes to the kitchen, now out of Jeffrey's line of sight, and takes out a knife. As she approaches the door we are given a glimpse of the living room window and another brick wall outside it in which is a window. Taking Jeffrey by surprise, she throws open the closet door and demands he get out with his hands on his head.
Within the closet, on the floor, is a dressmaker's mannequin of the type that reminds of certain expressions of the human form in Dada or surrealist art.
Dorothy demands of Jeffrey what he's doing and who he is. When he says he is "Jeffrey nothing", rather than giving his last name, she jabs his left cheek with the knife, drawing blood, and demands his wallet. He gives it to her and she checks his ID, learning his name. She asks him what he has seen, and if this is what he does, sneaking into girls' apartments to watch them undress. Turning the tables on him, she demands that he get undressed. He had watched her disrobe, so she makes him disrobe. Seemingly becoming aroused by her opportunity to be the one in the dominant position, she embraces him and asks if he likes it as she kisses him. Jeffrey, responding, touches her, which causes her to withdraw. She orders him not to touch her, "Or I'll kill you!" She asks if he likes talk like that, to which he says that he doesn't. She orders him over to the sofa to lie down, then climbs upon him and kisses him.
Interrupted by a knock on the door, Dorothy quickly hides Jeffrey in the same closet and orders him not to say anything "or he'll kill you, I mean it".
It seems sensible that she would rush Jeffrey perhaps to one of the bedrooms, to hide him in a closet there or under the bed, rather than putting him in a closet in the same room where the ensuing action will take place. But Jeffrey's experience of voyeurism must take an even darker turn.
When Dorothy hides Jeffrey in the closet, she also hides the knife she is holding by throwing it behind a radiant heater. With this action we are returned to Eraserhead and the stage upon which The Lady in the Radiator sings, beckoning to Henry as a lover, stomping on the sperm-like creatures that have brought him such guilt and anxiety in the form of the dreadful mockery of a child that is both pathetic and tyrannical, feeding upon the misery it induces. The Lady in the Radiator is like a light in the darkness. She can be viewed as being light as bright as the picture of the atomic bomb explosion on Henry's apartment's wall, her cheeks resembling an atomic cloud. She is an ambiguous figure who promises "heaven", where everything is all right, but everything about her is disconcerting and wholly unnatural, and even at film's end when Henry seems to have landed with her in a radiant, brightly lit "heaven", in which there are no shadows, he appears conflicted rather than at peace. This is relevant to Blue Velvet as Frank, in this section, will announce "It is dark" before he abuses Dorothy.
Frank enters. What follows is clearly a theatrical ritual prearranged between them, she running to get a wooden chair and placing it near the sofa. She calls him "baby" but that is the wrong thing for the moment. He yells at her to "Shut up! It's daddy, you shithead! Where's my bourbon? Can't you fucking remember anything?"
Dorothy gets Frank his bourbon. She cuts off the Art Nouveau/Deco stained glass table lamp on the end table and lights a candle sconce. "Now it's dark," Frank says. She takes her prearranged seat on the wooden chair and Frank orders her to spread her legs. Parting the blue velvet robe, she does as he demands. We see that he wears a bolo tie, as had Tom Beaumont when he was felled by his stroke. He orders her not to look at him, just as she had ordered Jeffrey not to look at her. Frank takes out of his pocket a medical gas mask and inhales from it. Immediately excited, he dives down between Dorothy's legs calling her "mommy". "Mommy loves you," she replies, and we remember her telephone conversation and consider it was perhaps Frank she was speaking to on the phone when she said, "Mommy loves you." Exclaiming, "Baby wants to fuck," Frank becomes increasingly agitated. He slaps Dorothy for looking at him. As her head snaps back, she smiles and sighs, "Yes." When Frank tells her, "Baby wants blue velvet", she stuffs in his mouth the hem of the blue velvet robe she is wearing. He throws her on the ground. With a pair of scissors he cuts off a section of the robe that he stuffs in his mouth. He fills her mouth as well with the cloth of the robe. "Daddy's coming home," he yells as he rapes her, then slugs her in the face for looking at him. Again, he says, "Now it's dark." He stands over her and orders her to, "Stay alive, baby. Do it for Van Gogh," then leaves.
There is nothing about the scene that could be taken as titillating. What has occurred is only grotesque.
I have read that Lynch wrote the role of Frank, picked up by Dennis Hopper, for Steven Barkoff, who played Detective Tom in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, and one can see why. In A Clockwork Orange, he was the only one whose biting intensity eclipsed Malcolm McDowell's screen presence. But I've also read that Harry Dean Stanton was the "first choice", so who knows.
Horrified, Jeffrey exits the closet. He assists Dorothy over to the sofa. Is she all right? She asks what he wants, to which he says, "Nothing." Dorothy assures him she's all right. When he says he will leave now, Dorothy calls him Don and entreats him to hold her, declaring she's frightened. "Don, you're back," she says. She asks Jeffrey if he likes her, if he likes the way she feels. She beckons him to feel her breast, to feel her, to hit her. When he refuses to hit her, she abuses herself. He stops her and she again begs him to hit her, then pushes him away and retreats to the bathroom.
Jeffrey dresses. From the bathroom, Dorothy entreats Don to help her. Unobserved, Jeffrey pulls out from under the sofa the framed picture Dorothy had earlier looked at. It shows, before the apartment building, a man holding a young boy who wears the whirligig hat Jeffrey had seen in the bedroom. On the back of the frame is taped a marriage certificate attesting that on the 19th of June, in Lumberton, Dorothy Ellen Vallens had married Donald James Watts. No year is stated.
We might now gather that a reason the apartment looks like not a home but a stage is because it must be so for the ritual/theatrical that Frank plays out with Dorothy prior to raping her. For this reason, there can be nothing out in the living room that speaks to Dorothy's daily life or her family. She must even hide the picture of her husband and son. But why hide it under the sofa when she could conceal it in a closet or someplace in her bedroom or Donny's room? And why hide the marriage certificate, taping it to the back of the frame? Why keep this reminder of family and motherhood, of marriage, under the sofa upon which Frank sits, nearby where she is raped? One can rationalize that this is all for benefit of Jeffrey and the audience, that the picture must be within sight of the closet for Jeffrey to have seen her looking at it, so that he may later pull it out and thereby discover she is married to Don and has a child. Perhaps this is so, but the close proximity of the picture complicates the situation, for during the theatrical Dorothy and Frank enact his fantasy of raping her in the roles of son and father/husband.
Further complicating matters, Dorothy has been calling Jeffrey "Don", the name of her husband.
Dorothy had earlier identified Jeffrey as a voyeur when he had only been able to say he was there, hiding in her closet, because he wanted to "see" her. Jeffrey's plan was voyeuristic, but his excuse has been that it was for sake of gathering information with the hope of possibly solving the crime of the severed ear. Still, even Sandy had questioned whether he was a pervert or a detective, and Jeffrey had dryly replied that was for her to find out. What the audience doesn't know is that in the original screenplay, while Jeffrey is at college, just before being called home, there is a scene in which he hides in a furnace room and watches as a fellow student sexually assaults a woman. Jeffrey remains silent until friends seek him out, calling his name, then finally yells, before the actual rape takes place, "Hey, shit head, leave her alone! Don't force girls!" However, had his friends not been seeking him to tell him his mother has made an emergency phone call, would he have intervened? Or would he have remained silent and voyeuristically participated in the rape? That dilema never enters in Dorothy's situation with Frank, for she has herself demanded that Jeffrey keep quiet and not move lest he be killed. He has little choice but to stand silently in the closet while Frank assaults Dorothy then rapes her. And this time there is no father's stroke an mother's emergency phone call to interrupt.
Lynch has wisely removed that collegiate scene from the film. Removing it makes what Jeffrey witnesses from the closet more complex, while also not denying a voyeuristic bent on Jeffrey's part. Had the scene been kept, the audience would have, from the beginning, not considered any other reading for Jeffrey's witness, and his plan, than his creating a situation in which he could play the voyeur under the guise of the civilian detective out to solve a mystery that the police can't seem to get it together to handle.
Apart from the film's beginning and end, Jeffrey functions as the eyes for the audience in the film. Apart from the beginning and end, Jeffrey is present in all scenes and thus it is via him that the audience gathers information. That Jeffrey's plan is voyeuristic can't be denied, but to be a voyeur is not to become involved, whereas Jeffrey is yanked out of the closet and into the action. From which point we can begin to look at the relationship of the voyeur and the observed to the audience and the stage or film set. As I've noted, Dorothy's apartment is much like a stage, a set. The mood of the seventh floor even reminds of movie theaters of the time that focused on showing artistic cinema and were deeply influenced by art deco in employing retro stylings in their renovations of old movie houses. As in such theaters, as we near the film screen, we move away from any outside light source. Interior lights are kept muted by means of wall sconces, as with the lighting in the halls of the seventh floor and in Dorothy's apartment. Colors of such theaters tended to the dark, such as mauve or gray. When Jeffrey is in the closet, he becomes as an audience viewing action on the film screen or stage, and I would suggest we must consider this relationship by virtue of Frank and Dorothy acting not spontaneously but theatrically in carrying out a prearranged ritual. A question for the director, the writer, the audience, is that of "experience" which supposes participation. How does one generate this participation mystique in theater (as had in church ritual) whereby what happens on the stage or screen becomes more than entertainment and is instead involving and thus can affect change, which is a very theatrical subject, how to accomplish this without breaking essential barriers that exist for a protective purpose.
An often-posed question is whether or not an audience is, by nature, only voyeuristic, even willfully so, obtaining pleasure from viewing extreme situations. Is this the situation of what exists purely for entertainment value, and what makes for exploitation?
The actors have here undergone some grueling scenes in which they are horribly vulnerable. Is the audience being told they have voyeuristic tendencies by being as Jeffrey, who even after he is pulled out of the closet into the action, onto the stage, though terrified derives pleasure from his situation? Or with his being pulled into the action is he a stand-in for the audience who is intended to become greater involved and derive more from the story than simple entertainment? Who may instead increase their knowledge and experience?
Is Jeffrey a detective or a pervert?
With Frank saying "Stay alive, baby. Do it for Van Gogh," we can now perhaps draw a connection between "Blue Velvet" and the found ear and the spiral skies of Van Gogh's "Starry Night", Van Gogh being the artist who is renowned for cutting off his ear.
In the original screenplay Frank instead says, "Stay alive, baby. See you next Christmas". When Dorothy later goes into the bathroom she screams and Jeffrey runs in to see her flushing what seems the remains of another ear "revolving around and around" in the swirling water. He makes a connection with Frank's earlier remark on Christmas and muses, "Next Christmas. Is he Santa Claus who has left present for Dorothy? What was it? An ear? Another ear?" He asks Dorothy what it was and she responds, "Do you know?" He says he doesn't. "You don't?" she asks. He says, "No, what is happening?" She answers, "Maybe you don't know. I know you though..."
That the original dialogue concerns Christmas perhaps shows that Lynch had at first been reluctant to make a direct association with Van Gogh and only alluded to it with the Christmas reference. Van Gogh cut off his ear December 23 1888 and presented it to a madam at a brothel as a "souvenir". Souvenir means, in French, remembrance, memory, and the idea of memory is of great concern in both the song and the movie "Blue Velvet".
Distressed, Jeffrey walks home. We are shown that he seems to envision a stretched-out image of his father's face, his head held in place by the mechanical device at the hospital, he whispering, "Jeffrey". This is replaced by Frank roaring as he prepares to rape Dorothy, followed by the flickering flame of a candle. The candle snuffed out, Frank says, "Now, it's dark". Dorothy begs him to hit her and we watch from her viewpoint as he slugs her in the face. At which point Jeffrey wakes up, startled, as this was his viewpoint as well. He looks up at a partial mask of a beast's mouth hanging from a nail on the wall above his bed, all teeth and red tongue. It has no eyes or ears. It only consumes.
Cue Bob's roar in Twin Peaks, a negative spiritual force that took possession of Leland and the dark Cooper. As we shall later see, Frank operates much as Bob, promising Jeffrey he is always with him in his dreams.
A scene follows in which Jeffrey calls Sandy from the hardware store but she is unable to talk as Mike is there. Cut to the two Eds functioning as one over at the cash register. A man in a red and black flannel shirt, smoking a pipe, is purchasing a double-headed red ax. The sighted Ed reads out its inventory number. 48721. The blind Ed promptly recollects its price, "$22.95" and rings it into the cash register. Cut back to Jeffrey as he confirms a meeting with Sandy for 8.
This scene builds on Jeffrey's visit to Dorothy's apartment, when she discovers him before Frank's arrival and demands to know what he has seen. In the screenplay, he gives more details than in the film, including having heard her say "Meadow Lane". In the screenplay, Dorothy replies that Jeffrey has a good memory. This was left out in the film.
This hardware store scene of the ax purchase isn't in the screenplay, nor does the screenplay have the double Ed, instead having only one. It seems to me that Lynch replaced Dorothy telling Jeffrey he had a good memory with the blind Ed showing an exceptional recall. This scene also further builds on the the blind Ed indeed having exceptional abilities though they may not be psychic. He has an exceptional memory but again he needs the sighted Ed to read the number to him.
This is the last scene with Double Ed.
In the hardware store scene in which he calls Sandy, Jeffrey wears a blue chambray shirt. This is followed by a brief night shot of his sitting in what seems an office. Perhaps it's his father's home office or an office at the store. A handcrafted Lumberton sign hangs on the wall behind him. The only other object in the frame is a red fake wood lamp with a bright red lampshade, which may remind us of a red lamp we had seen in Detective Williams' home office, which may be another reason we might assume this is also an office. Wearing a light beige shirt, buttoned up to the neck, Jeffrey is shown in deep and troubled contemplation. Nothing else happens.
Crossfade to Sandy driving what must be her family's car, Jeffrey in the passenger seat. She parks so we see a church in the background--not the red brick church across from the apartment building on Lincoln street but a white church with a number of stained glass windows softly lit.
She wears a shoulderless blue top, which shows more skin than anything else she has worn but the cloth is seemingly cotton and so the seductive properties are still wholesome. One has the feeling she had probably worn the top for Mike.
Jeffrey is in a black shirt with a gray tie decorated with white or light gray slash marks.
He has become pensive, exhibiting a seriousness not previously displayed around her. When she enthusiastically asks him, "Well, aren't you going to tell me about it?" he looks at the point of crying, his eyes red.
He begins with saying it's a strange world, which is what he'd remarked their first night together as they had walked under the trees near where we had seen the man walking the dog. He tells her that Dorothy is married to Don and they have a son. He believes Don and the son have been kidnapped by a man named Frank, who has done this "to force Dorothy to do things for him. I think she wants to die. I think Frank cut the ear I found off her husband as a warning for her to say alive. Frank is a very dangerous man."
Sandy asks if he should tell her father and Jeffrey insists no, that he can't prove any of this, he got the information illegally and it could get Sandy in trouble.
Plaintive, Jeffrey begs of Sandy, "Why are there people like Frank? Why is there so much trouble in this world?"
Sandy, unable to answer this except that she doesn't know why, relates to Jeffrey a dream.
SANDY: I had a dream. In fact, it was the night I met you. In the dream, there was our world, and the world was dark because there weren't any robins. And the robins represented love. And for the longest time there was just this darkness. And all of a sudden thousands of robins were set free. And they flew down and brought this blinding light of love. And it seemed like that love would be the only thing that would make any difference, and it did. So I guess it means there is trouble till the robins come.
The scene is a lovely one, an organ softly playing in the background, Sandy near beatific in her glowing description of this dream vision with which she gives Jeffrey hope.
He tells her she is a "neat" girl and she says he is, too, a neat guy. They have a moment of connection that approaches too closely to a romance she is denying as she is still with Mike, and for which Jeffrey this day is likely not ready, weighted as he is with what he had seen and experienced the night before.
The light and the robins, of course, are a response to Frank's invocation and declaration of darkness before his rape of Dorothy. Indeed, the lamp Dorothy had cut off, before lighting the candle, had a stained glass shade, which we will be reminded of when we see the stained glass windows of the church as Sandy speaks of how darkness will be dispersed with the light of love brought by the robins.
Sandy's dream of darkness dispersed by light had been the night they met, while the previous night Jeffrey had dreamt of Frank's invocation and declaration of darkness.
In the scene that follows, Jeffrey returns to the apartment building to visit Dorothy. We would assume it is the same night, after he had met with Sandy, but he is wearing a blue chambray shirt with a multi-colored tie of predominately dark red tones. This would seem to be the same blue chambray shirt he was wearing earlier at the hardware store.
I've begun paying attention to what Jeffrey wears as his wardrobe had been timeline consistent up until the scene, after the hardware store, of his sitting in the office in the beige shirt, buttoned up to his neck, which was followed by his wearing a black shirt with a gray tie during his meeting with Sandy. The beige shirt was the same as the one he had worn on the day he had visited the hospital and found the ear. The neck was open early in the day. That night when he visited the Williams' household he had worn the same beige shirt but it was buttoned up to the neck as with the scene in the office.
It doesn't make sense that Jeffrey would wear a blue chambray shirt at work, then be observed in a beige shirt, then wear a black shirt and tie with a gray design for his meeting with Sandy, only to return to his chambray shirt from earlier in the day and dress it up with another tie. These scenes seem to be perhaps out of order. As we shall see, the following several scenes are indeed given out of order by Lynch.
Dorothy, dressed in her blue velvet robe, asks him what he's doing there, what he wants. Smiling, she says she looked for him in her closet that night. She adds, "I don't know where you come from but I like you." With her saying this, and the isolation I've already described of Sandy's apartment, we have an even profounder sense of her living in a world so divorced from Jeffrey's own that he is for her just as much as an otherworldly presence as she is for him.
Jeffrey responds he likes her as well. She asks him to be with her and they kiss. The red curtains before the window in the living room move as if blown by a breeze. The faint sound of the wind is hollow, ghostly.
Crossfade with those rustling red curtains to the exterior of The Slow Club. A breeze blows trash across the parking lot. Inside, a waiter sets down a Heineken before Jeffrey as Dorothy sings, "But when she left, gone was the glow of blue velvet." When Jeffrey and Sandy had seen the show, Dorothy was wearing a low-backed lace dress when singing this song. At the close of that show, she had worn this high neck dress but had sung a different song. Now she is dressed in the high-neck black dress she had worn toward the end of that other night but is singing the song with which she'd opened the show. I only note this as we have here a section of scenes that are out of order and Dorothy's show too is not in the same order as the other night.
Dorothy sings, "But in my heart there'll always be, precious and warm, a memory, through the years, and I still can see blue velvet through my tears," and Jeffrey realizes she is looking at someone, singing to them. It is Frank, holding back tears, who sits at a table before a black bearskin hung upon a wall. He fondles the piece of blue velvet cut from her robe.
Dorothy shows no hint of inner turmoil while singing to Frank.
After the show, Jeffrey waits outside The Slow Club in the family car, thunder clashing, the wind rising, trash blowing. Frank exits with three friends. As they screech away, he follows them.
They drive through an industrial area to a factory-like, red brick building outside of which is parked an Allied moving truck. Against the building, in a semi-circle of light, shadows of clanging machines hammer away, performing unknown jobs, amidst occasional bursts of steam. Jeffrey gets out of the car, following the men into what is the hall of an apartment building. He looks at the line-up of mail boxes and finds Frank Booth's.
The factory setting blending with an apartment building reminds of Henry's apartment in Eraserhead that is approached through an industrial area.
Again, it feels as though the timeline might be out of synch. Dorothy had found Jeffrey in her closet after her performance, and she had put on the blue robe in preparation for the ritual of Frank's visit. It seems likely that Jeffrey first went to see her perform, after which he followed Frank to his residence, then went to see Dorothy who at first told him to "hurry", suggesting she was waiting for Frank or he had just been there and she is worried Jeffrey will be seen. They kissed but whether or not they actually made love is questionable. I would think not.
Indeed, if we check the screenplay, the scene in which Jeffrey goes to the club and sees Frank, then follows Frank to his apartment, precedes his visiting Dorothy again. After seeing Frank at his apartment, he follows him to a parking lot where Frank leaves his car, then goes to Dorothy's. After Frank has left Dorothy's is when Jeffrey visits her a second time.
Lynch builds on "Lincoln" by having Frank's last name be that of the man who shot Lincoln in the head in a theater.
In the screenplay, Dorothy and Jeffrey do not make love when he visits her in the above related scene. They embrace, talk, Dorothy speaks of how she wishes she would die and then leads him to the rooftop, as if to show him that she would like to leap off of it and end her life. The music that plays during the scene is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which connects Dorothy, in her red shoes, to Dorothy of Oz.
The significance of the windstorm this evening then may have to do with Dorothy Gale being whisked away by the tornado to Oz, the same spiral shape observed in the ear also had in the terrible cyclone.
It's now that we can begin to look at Blue Velvet and see a clear relationship to the The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz opens in the sepia-colored land of Kansas that Dorothy would like to escape, the evil Miss Gulch having taken Dorothy's dog. When her dog escapes Miss Gulch, Dorothy runs away from home with it so Miss Gulch will not take the dog away again. She is told by a soothsayer/magician she meets to return home and she does, but is hit on the head as a tornado sweeps through. Knocked unconscious, she wakes to find she is inside the tornado. It sets her down in Oz, at which point the film switches to a beautiful, even bewitching color. Brilliant flowers are everywhere, and emerald green grass and little streams. This is not dusty, sepia Kansas! But Dorothy finds out that evil exists in Oz as well, in the form of the Witch of the West, and she is given the mission of killing her if she wishes to return to Kansas. After this is accomplished, Dorothy is told her red shoes could have returned her to Kansas at any time she'd desired, she'd only had to wish her way there.
Blue Velvet instead opens on a kind of Oz with its sunny streets, blue sky and bright flowers. (Perhaps sepia Kansas is the land from which the filmgoer comes when they enter the theater.) The spiral of the ear that Jeffrey finds approximates Dorothy's tornado, leading Jeffrey across Lincoln Street to the bad side of town, which is not too far from the good side of town. That is what is said to be "creepy", that Dorothy's apartment building is so close to Jeffrey's street. The bad and good are situated very near each other. They are neighbors.
Recall the little dog that the man was walking as Jeffrey strolled the street to the Williams, then Jeffrey looking into the foliage of the trees and seeing the ear at night, which is something he has never viewed as he found the ear in the bright light of day. After this he is led to Lincoln Street by Sandy. We can look on that ear as being the tornado that sweeps Jeffrey into this alternate universe of evil that is so close to his humdrum, if brilliantly flowered, hometown. (In Twin Peaks: The Return, when the spiral tornado forms appear, they coalesce out of not only the sky but the leaves of surrounding trees.) But Jeffrey's father's sickness precedes this, giving him something from which he would like to escape. The magical, detached ear appears and he takes it to the detective. But the ear is not yet, in a way, activated. After taking it to the detective, Jeffrey then must pursue involvement on his own though he has been warned away from seeking any further information. When Jeffrey looks to the leaves of the tree and we have the vision of the night ear, this seems to be when the ear is "activated".
The coroner had said much could be learned about the owner of the ear by tests being run on it. We never do learn much about Don, but we learn something about Jeffrey, who Dorothy persistently calls Don.
Lynch had most overtly returned to The Wizard of Oz at the end of Wild at Heart. Sailor, released from prison, goes to meet Lula, his lover (also played by Laura Dern who plays Sandy), and to see his son for the first time. Thinking it's best for all, despite the love Lula has for him and he for her, he says he must go away. He meets a gang that punches him out, at which point a vision of Oz's Good Witch of the North (played by Sheryl Lee who plays also Laura Palmer) appears to him and urges him to return to Lula and his son, to not turn away from love. He does so, essentially thanking the gang for punching him out, else he'd not have had his vision.
Dorothy Vallens may seem to bear little resemblance to Dorothy Gale, but Dorothy Gale is inextricably wound up with the individual who played her, Judy Garland, a singer/actress whose life was ruled by the Hollywood studio system, from the time she was a teenager, and who was destroyed by its abusive demands.
In the screenplay, at the time of his second meeting with Dorothy, Jeffrey has not yet told Sandy about what he has found out about Dorothy, nor has Sandy told him about her dream she had on the night of their meeting. He has also not yet had his dream. His dream doesn't happen until after that his second night at Dorothy's. As in the film, in the screenplay his dream begins with him walking, looking up into the trees after leaving her apartment, then we've the shot of his father's distorted face, he trying to say "Jeffrey", but we do not then go into any visions concerning Frank. Instead, Jeffrey sees a robin, then is back at Dorothy's apartment building looking up at the roof. A red object falls down from it which turns out to be one of Dorothy's shoes, which morphs into her red lips opening in a scream.
The next day, in the screenplay, Jeffrey has dinner at the Williams' household with Sandy, Mike and her parents. After dinner, Mike becomes jealous of Jeffrey and leaves. Sandy takes Jeffrey out for an ice cream. They stop at the church and he tells her about Don and Donny who have been kidnapped. Sandy then tells him about her dream of the robins.
The screenplay's dinner scene doesn't do much other than establish that Sandy's family is Roman Catholic, via their pre-meal prayer, and highlight the differences between Jeffrey and Mike the athletic jock.
In the following section we have flashbacks used to tell the story of Jeffrey's spying on Frank. In the screenplay, the presentation is instead linear. Jeffrey follows Frank, and then he meets Sandy and tells her about it.
Day. We hear the same Lumberton radio jingle that had played when we were first introduced to Jeffrey when he was walking to the hospital. As the camera pans over an empty Heineken bottle, junk food packages and bananas on the dashboard of the Beaumont car, the DJ announces that at the sound of the falling tree the time will be 1:30. Jeffrey, dressed in his beige shirt, is keeping watch of Frank's apartment building.
Cut to the high school football team doing jumping jacks. 7, 8, 9. We see Sandy standing outside the school, waiting, checking her watch. 10, 11, 12. Cut back to the football team and Mike leaving it, having seen Sandy in front of the school. 13, 14, 15. Jeffrey drives up before the school and Sandy nervously tells him to "keep going" as Mike reaches the fence around the practice area. He sees her speaking to Jeffrey, and calls out to her, then when she only looks at him in confusion he turns and goes back to the team. Nevertheless, rather than going to Mike, Sandy climbs into the Beaumont car and berates Jeffrey for being late. He offers to go over and talk to Mike for her but she says she doesn't think it would do much good. She'll try to talk to him later.
An exterior shot of Arlene's diner, a logging truck passing.
Inside, Jeffrey again has a sandwich and they both have colas. He asks Sandy, "See that clock on the wall?" He tells her five minutes from now she's not going to believe what he's told her.
Flashback to Frank's building. Frank is arriving with another man as Jeffrey relates he staked out Frank's place with a camera, and that Frank arrived with an individual he calls the Yellow Man, the person whose back she'd seen when she was supposed to play a Jehovah's Witness. As they go into Frank's building, Jeffrey takes a picture, using a string set-up, with a camera hidden in a Jarman shoebox. A 7-Up and Pepsi can are hung from the side seemingly as some kind of counterweights. "The only trouble is, what does that prove?" Jeffrey asks. Sandy concedes it's interesting but proves nothing. He then tells her how he saw the Yellow Man come out of the building and meet up with a well-dressed man carrying an alligator briefcase. We see how he takes a picture as the Yellow Man approaches his car, makes a waving gesture, then shakes the hand of the well-dressed man who has approached from the far side of the parking lot away from the entrance to the building. The well-dressed man has dark hair, a mustache, and wears a brown suit with a burgundy shirt. Jeffrey then relates how the two men went to a factory building downtown, stood on a staircase and looked off in the distance. "In the distance, there was a murder. A drug dealer was shot to death and a woman had her legs broken. Then two guys told me the police would find drugs in the dead dealer's place." We see, beyond yellow police ribbon, a blond woman lying on the ground, her legs broken so that one is bent back (Laura Palmer's Red Room dopple will say that sometimes she feels like Laura, but her arms bend back). She has hair very similar to Sandy's. The ground near her is red with blood. Above, a man in a striped shirt hangs out a window while a police photographer shoots pictures below.
Jeffrey doesn't know what he is going to do with this information but says he's going to continue with his investigation. Sandy wants to know if he will be going back to Dorothy's, and why. Jeffrey explains, "I'm seeing something that was always hidden. I'm involved in a mystery. I'm in the middle of a mystery. And it's all secret."
Disconcerted, Sandy asks him if he likes mysteries that much. Jeffrey smilingly answers yes, then says she's a mystery and that he likes her very much.
Now he makes his move. He sits next to her and they kiss. Afterwards, she withdraws and asks him not to continue. Still, he is pleased and has every reason to be. Sandy kissed him before backing off and saying no. He asks her if she worries about him and she says that she does, a lot.
To the strains of "Blue Velvet", Jeffrey, dressed in the same black shirt and gray tie he'd worn in the church scene with Sandy, when she'd told him her dream of robins bringing the light of love, climbs the rear stairs to Dorothy's apartment. As I noted earlier, certain scenes were seeming out of sequence due to clothing. They are out of sequence in the film relative to the screenplay, but it's interesting that Jeffrey was dressed in this outfit on that evening with Sandy when he told her that he had discovered Dorothy had a husband, Don, a son, and that Frank had kidnapped them to make her do things. He didn't relate what things, the violence, but he had then asked Sandy why the world was this way, and she'd told him her dream. The reason it's interesting he was wearing that outfit is because in this section, making love to Dorothy, she will want him to be bad, to hit her. He'll tell her he wants to help her, and relate the same thing that he'd told Sandy, that he knows about Don and her son and that Frank has kidnapped them. But whereas he had been distressed, with Sandy, over Frank's violence, asking her why people like Frank existed, now he will be the one who ends up hitting Dorothy. He will be the one who is violent, and Dorothy will have asked him to be violent.
Dorothy answers his knock and they immediately kiss. Dressed in her red robe, smiling, Dorothy takes his hands and draws him to her bedroom. The red curtains over the impossible living room window wave with a sinister breeze. The window over which the curtains wave is likely the one Jeffrey would have opened if his original plan had worked out. But, as we've observed, it's also a window to nowhere as this 7th floor doesn't exist and Dorothy lives in an apartment that seemingly has no real windows as it's surrounded by halls.
As they begin to make love Dorothy asks Jeffrey if he is a bad boy, if he wants to do bad things. "Anything. Anything," she says. When Jeffrey asks what she wants, she says she wants him to hurt her. He insists that no, he doesn't want to hurt her, he wants to help her. He tells her he knows some of what's happening, that Frank has her husband and son. She doesn't respond until he tells her she must go to the police, at which point she starts up, alarmed, saying, "No police, no police." We see the flame of Jeffrey's dream candle flickering out in a breeze as she cries out, "Don, hit me!" Jeffrey exclaims, "No!" She begins kicking him, yelling at him to get away from her bed, shoving him, and he reflexively slaps her. His hand raised to hit her again, he stops. For this wouldn't be reflexive. It's a moment of decision. He strikes her. We see her mouth red with lipstick that resembles blood and that it passionately assumes a chipped-tooth smile of pleasure. We see flames and hear the kind of slowed down guttural roar Frank had made in Jeffrey's dream. Jeffrey and Dorothy make violent love.
Go to black.
DOROTHY: I have your disease in me now.
Cut to the red curtains in the living room blowing. Jeffrey sits on the sofa playing with the child's whirligig cap which he must have taken from his room. Part of the tune it plays resembles "Blue Velvet".
Hearing it, Dorothy rushes into the room, dressed again in her red gown, and grabs the hat from him. Setting it down on the radio, she tells Jeffrey, "He used to make me laugh."
When Jeffrey says he should go she agrees. She asks if he thinks she's crazy. She says she doesn't want him to go, and that she's not crazy, she knows the difference between right and wrong. She tells him he's her special friend.
DOROTHY: I still have you inside of me. It helps me. I need you.
He says he'll call her. When she asks, "Soon?" she doesn't seem to believe his affirmation. He has slept with her and perhaps now he will disappear. As he opens the door she asks if he's lying to her. He says no and she asks if he's sure.
Is he sure? Dorothy, this dream woman, is giving him the opportunity to be honest with her, to not lie.
Before continuing, let's review the point at which we have Jeffrey's dream candle enter this section and flicker out. In his dream, we had seen Jeffrey's father trying to speak, to say his name. Then Frank could be heard roaring, and the candle's flame flickers out. Frank says, "Now, it's dark." Dorothy begs him to hit her and we watched from her supposed viewpoint as Frank slugged her. Jeffrey then woke up and we realized this was Jeffrey's viewpoint. It was also the viewpoint of the audience.
Dorothy, from the beginning, has seemed willing only to make love to Jeffrey if he will first abuse her. Whenever he refuses to do so, she pushes him away. In this section they are in her bed, well on their way to making love. Again, she wants him to be a bad boy. He pleads he wants to help her. The dream candle's flame flickers out as Dorothy exclaims to Jeffrey, "Don, hit me!" Frank's darkness has descended. Then, rather than Frank hitting Dorothy, as in the dream, Jeffrey does so. At first it is a slap that is reflexive. She has been kicking him, yelling. Then he makes the decision to strike her again. Only now will Dorothy make love with him. Love and sex must be accompanied with pain.
As far as I'm concerned, it's futile to deal much with the psychology of the situation. It's a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" scenario. We know Dorothy is abused by Frank, that it's traumatic for her, but that she also seems to derive pleasure from being struck. We don't know what she was like before Frank. We don't know if Don used to abuse her as well, or if she perhaps begs Don to abuse her, in the form of Jeffrey, because of some feeling of guilt for what she has done with Frank. We don't have any past history on her. All we know is she associates sex with abuse and that she first entices Jeffrey to abuse her, to do anything, to be the bad boy, then when he argues that he wants to help her she kicks him out of her bed, fighting him. She likely expects this to provoke him into hitting her. It doesn't have to. He could say no and leave. But this is the Jeffrey who entered her house masquerading as the "bug man", stole her keys, entered her home illegally and hid in her closet in order to spy on what was happening there. His plea is that all of this is so he can help her, and there is a fair helping of Hardy Boys innocence to Jeffrey. He didn't know what he was getting into. But now that he is in bed with Dorothy, when she forces him out of it, when she kicks him when he won't abuse her, he ends up giving into a dark impulse within and not only reflexively but willfully strikes her. Is he only giving in to what Dorothy expects of men and life, or has she drawn out his inner nature?
Dorothy is like Laura Palmer--as is Jeffrey. We can't deal much with certain aspects of the psychology of her situation because they are all fictional constructs. A story. Dorothy is not real so her psychology can never be unraveled, only the psychology of the fictional construct, and that's not even possible as too little information is had. As a fictional construct, we can't deal either with certain aspects of the psychology of the situation with Laura as she is a teen who has been brutally abused, since the age of twelve, by her father (and Bob), but then the viewer is beckoned to accept, especially via her diaries and Fire Walk With Me, that there is also a "bad" girl within Laura, a dark shadow, which enjoys some abuse and also enjoys abusing. In the diaries, if I recollect, before she is even abused, Laura wonders as to certain things about herself and if she is bad. From there, we'd have to examine the culture in which she was raised, how it has impacted her in its unique intersections with a unique human being, and that's something we can't do as she is a fiction and we have limited information. Does she abuse only because she's been abused? Does she enjoy abuse at times only because she has been abused. Is her abuse wholly from the guilt she feels over having been made into the bad woman? If this was not a fiction, if this was real life, I would believe that Laura behaves as she does as the consequence of being abused (though not all abused individuals act out as Laura does), and I think that Lynch's intention is to ulteriorly represent it in this way. But I also think that overly muddied waters happen for sake of creating a story, and Lynch's attempt to also explore the "shadow" side and his own indecisiveness as to what is natural and what is not, what is a part of human nature and what is created by circumstance, what is perhaps inborn and what is environmental, what may even be supernatural. Lynch's ambiguity as an artist is excusable and better than any pat answer, all cultures and religions and spiritual systems etc. ever wrestling with what is the shadow side, what is evil and what is its cause or causes, and what makes the difference between profound evil and complex human nature? Lynch doesn't have all the answers and that makes him an artist rather than a propagandist.
If we look at Eraserhead, Henry's already an anxious mess before he and his girlfriend have sex and very soon thereafter produce a mutant child. The infant seems partly a product of these anxieties and fears. Humane compassion and parental sympathies both demand and inspire one to love and care for the mutant child, but the mutant child cries unceasingly, refuses to feed, and does nothing but inspire more anxiety and fear. Eventually, after Henry cuts it free of its wrapping, we find there's nothing there but what looks like various organs and gorgonzola, which becomes in Twin Peaks the food of human suffering. The child seems then to have been feeding on the suffering it creates and appears to increase in size, overwhelming all.
In Eraserhead, sperm is identified with something sick, like disease--though I think it would be wrong to take it only as sperm, to not understand it as a metaphor. The Woman in the Radiator stomps on the sperm-like things, squashing them. She is Henry's radiant light of love, but she is also forbidding and frightening, as unnatural in her own way as the mutant child.
In Blue Velvet, we now have Dorothy declaring, after she and Jeffrey have made love, that his disease is inside her. This has to do with the abuse, and yet she wouldn't permit their making love unless he had abused her first. We can run ourselves in endless circles in an attempt to grasp wholly what is going on psychologically, because they are fictions and fictions of which we only know a little bit. Lynch seems to want us to understand that there is something of the shadow in Jeffrey that has gotten him in this situation in the first place, but Dorothy also insists upon Jeffrey being bad. She says his "disease" is inside her now but she also demanded he be bad. She also says what he has left in her helps her, that she needs him.
A little clarity can be found in the screenplay. She calls Jeffrey Don throughout their lovemaking. After he hits her, as Don, she says, "See how you hurt me? Now. Open me. Enter me. I love you Don with all my heart." Afterwards, she says that, "Men are crazy...they put their craziness into me, then it makes me crazy. Then they aren't so crazy for a while. Then they put their craziness in me again...I'm in so much darkness...darkness is entering me in every hole. It's opening me to death. If I die, then they'll be free..."
Not "then I'll be free" but "then they'll be free".
Jeffrey, leaving Dorothy this time, denies her the truth, whether he will call her again, and she senses this. She gives him the opportunity to not tell her lies. "Are you sure?" she asks. Is he sure? One way of looking at Dorothy is that from the beginning her persistence in the demand for truth from Jeffrey is the story's attempt to wake him up to denial as to how he may actually feel. But that doesn't mean he has to act on it. As I've earlier stated, when Dorothy demanded he strike her, Jeffrey could have stood up and walked out but then we wouldn't have the story as Lynch has chosen to unfold it.
In exploring the shadow realm, evil, the complexity of human nature, Lynch doesn't have all the answers, no one does, and as I've noted this makes him an artist rather than a propagandist. This leads me to address the question of whether or not Frank was in love. In early interviews with Lynch, he says Frank was in love. "Frank is a person totally in love, but he doesn't quite know how to show it...in a normal way, but he knows all about love. Desperately, in love." And Dennis Hopper has stated he made the foundation of Frank a person who was in love, who would do anything he had to do "to keep the love and respect of this woman".
No. Emphatically, no. Frank may be a figment of Lynch's imagination, but Lynch's comprehension of Frank's psychology is wrong, which also muddies the waters. Frank's obsession and abuse has an erroneous foundation of being supposedly for the sake of love. When Frank is instead all about power. This is not love. This is precisely what love is not. But there still persists out there this idea that obsession is love. It is not. Obsession is only concerned with itself.
As Jeffrey leaves Dorothy's, she seeing him into the hall that is dark as a movie theater's, who appears but Frank and his three cohorts. Dorothy introduces Jeffrey as a friend from the neighborhood and says they were just talking. Frank, who wants Dorothy all to himself, invites Jeffrey on a ride and won't take no for an answer.
In Frank's Dodge Charger they squeal down Lumberton's empty main street. As everyone toys with Jeffrey, taunting him, we hear a police dispatcher say, "Talladega 81585". The ride gives Jeffrey the knowledge that Frank is able to hear police dispatches, which ends in being critical to the outcome of the story so this ride is essential.
"This is it," Frank says as they arrive at Ben's. Then as they climb out of the car we see they are literally before a place that is named This Is It.
Ben is a pimp. His place is a brothel painted a bland pink and filled with mid-century modern furniture. The prostitutes are all heavy women.
Why are the women heavy? The screenplay has the answer. As Jeffrey leaves, Dorothy extracting promises he'll call again, she says, "Do you think I'm fat? I'm getting a little bit fat. I hate that." It seems that this fatness is an expression of sex, semen, the "disease" entering her, thus the prostitutes in the brothel are all heavy.
At the film's opening there was a banal street scene that showed a place called The Barbary Coast. This was followed by the shot of the man standing on the sidewalk twirling the bright metal object around his finger, a skeletal Halloween figure on the door behind him. The skeleton is ecidedly not fat. In the screenplay, the brothel to which Frank takes Jeffrey is The Barbary Coast.
Why they are there is likely to collect drugs from Ben, who is nodding-out-high, but the scene also serves as one in which Jeffrey is in the position of knowing there is likely nothing he can do that is right. Now that Jeffrey has abused Dorothy, he will be abused by Frank, who on one level is an alter of him. Frank and his three cohorts create an atmosphere of unceasing, threatening confusion, occasionally demanding response from Jeffrey and he's ever helpless as he knows no matter what he does he's going to abused. He can be as quietly passive as possible and this too will demand abuse.
We can tell that Dorothy is aware her son is there. She waits anxiously to be given permission to see him, knowing she dare not ask to do so.
Frank calls Ben suave, and we can see that if there is anyone Frank is not likely to abuse, it will be Ben. He is a decadent kind of sleazy genteel, and with his pancake white make-up and lipstick we are also supposed to look upon him as somewhat effeminate and wonder about the dynamics of his relationship with Frank. Because Ben is more passive, though alpha, rather than abrasive, and because he raises his eyebrows skeptically at Frank often enough, we're unsure as to how exactly he exercises his own brand of evil, if he's not as physically abusive, if he is more sensible. But then after Frank punches Jeffrey in the face for not toasting Ben, and Jeffrey does offer a toast, Ben goes over, thanks Jeffrey, asks if Frank hurt his face, then unexpectedly punches him hard in the stomach and asks if that's better. With his striking Jeffrey, the audience is assured that Ben is cut from much the same cloth as Frank. Not to mention, he is holding a kidnapped child in the back room.
Dorothy is allowed to see her son, but this takes place in the back room so we don't see their reunion. We only hear Dorothy exclaim, "Donny...no!...Donny, mama loves you." We gather the reunion is conflicted, that Donny is likely full of anger over this mother who he likely sees as having abandoned him. This is confirmed in the screenplay, which offers a little more dialogue and has the reunion take place on screen.
Frank relates to Ben a story about "Gordon" taking someone's drugs. As Ben gives him drugs, Frank says, "The Candy-Colored Clown. For me." Frank puts on the record, Ben picks up an industrial light that resembles a mic. It works as a garish spotlight on him as he lip-syncs the song "In Dreams", which was released in 1963, as was "Blue Velvet".
A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
"Go to sleep. Everything is all right."
I close my eyes, Then I drift away
Into the magic night. I softly say
A silent prayer like dreamers do.
Then I fall asleep to dream My dreams of you.
In dreams I walk with you. In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you're mine...
Frank is at first mesmerized, and as Ben sings to him we wonder again at their relationship, if it may be also sexual, but as Ben sings Frank's adulation turns to a kind of anguished agitation. Ben, recognizing this, knowing him well, stops singing even before Frank cuts off the record.
Dorothy emerges from seeing Donny and is despondent. Frank decides to go on a joy ride. "Now, it's dark," he says, then exclaims, "Let's fuck! I'll fuck anything that moves!" As he yells this, the camera zooms in on him and in the background we have a little better view of a life-sized, freakish doll figure, rather like a clown, sitting on a sofa. It wears a bright red shirt. We've glimpsed it before and are never permitted too clear a view of it. As soon as Frank yells, "I'll fuck anything that moves!" all human figures vanish from the screen, leaving only the room and the doll on the sofa seated beneath a painting of a partially nude woman wearing dark stockings. Presumably, this figure represents the Candy Colored Clown of "In Dreams".
Cut to the road. They are taking Jeffrey out to the country and will let him walk back. They squeal into a logging mill, and Frank turns around and screams at Jeffrey not to look at him. Staring wildly at Jeffrey, he inhales through the medical mask the gas he was huffing at Dorothy's, then tells Jeffrey, "You're like me."
His attention turns to Dorothy's breasts, which he squeezes, hurting her. Jeffrey demands he leave her alone, then unexpectedly punches Frank in the face.
Frank and his men pull Jeffrey from the car. Dorothy pleads with them to leave him alone, as Frank puts red lipstick all over his own mouth then kisses Jeffrey, smearing the red on his face. He has Paul (played by Jack Nance, who also played Henry in Eraserhead) put on "In Dreams". The entire song plays, including the last stanzas that we'd not heard at Ben's.
But just before the dawn, I awake and find you gone.
I can't help it, I can't help it, if I cry.
I remember that you said goodbye.
It's too bad that all these things, Can only happen in my dreams
Only in dreams
In beautiful dreams.
As the song plays, a prostitute they brought along from Ben's climbs atop the car and go-go dances on its roof. Frank tells Jeffrey he's lucky to be alive, and to not be neighborly with Dorothy, that he'll get a love letter from him, straight from his heart, which is a bullet, and he'll go to hell.
He tells Jeffrey in dreams he walks with him, in dreams he talks to him, in dreams "you're mine, all of the time...forever". He rubs a swath of blue velvet over Jeffrey's face. After demanding Jeffrey feel his muscles, he repeatedly slugs Jeffrey in the face as Dorothy screams from the car for him to stop.
We see, as in Jeffrey's dream, the candle flicker out with a gust of wind. We hear a last, "In dreams, you're mine..."
In the gray light of morning, Jeffrey wakens in the muddy yard of the lumber mill, face bruised and bloodied, lying on the ground. He stumbles away from the mill and sees a sign that says Meadow Lane.
In the screenplay, it's hinted that somewhere on Meadow Lane is where Don is being kept, Dorothy's husband. This idea isn't in the film. We only know that Meadow Lane had been mentioned in the phone call Dorothy had received from Frank when Jeffrey was watching her from the closet. We now gather that Don had likely told Dorothy, on the call, that he was being kept at Meadow Lane. Still, the significance of Meadow Lane doesn't seem entirely realized.
The last time we'd seen Jeffrey in his bedroom, he was waking up from the dream of his father calling, "Jeffrey", the candle blowing out, Dorothy begging him to hit her then being hit in the face by Frank, which became himself and the audience.
Bruised all to hell, Jeffrey sits on his bed and remembers Dorothy's plea for him to hit her, his striking her, the child's hat, hearing Dorothy in the back room of the brothel with her son. He breaks down in tears.
I had earlier mentioned the peculiarity of Lynch inserting early on a night scene of Jeffrey in his beige shirt sitting in what may be his father's home office with the Lumberton sign behind him, and nothing happening in the brief scene. This had been after he'd called Sandy from the hardware store, dressed in his chambray shirt, after his first night at Dorothy's. The two Eds had been dealing with the sale of the ax. Subsequent the beige-shirt office scene, he'd met Sandy wearing the black shirt and gray print tie he would wear on the Meadow Lane night. He had asked Sandy why people like Frank existed and she had told him her dream. He had then gone to see Dorothy in his chambray shirt he'd been wearing at the hardware store.
Jeffrey now calls Sandy from the office with the Lumberton sign. It is day. He is dressed in the beige shirt, not buttoned to the neck. Sandy is dressed in a red and black checked flannel shirt, as had been the man purchasing the ax.
He tells Sandy he knows things that might help her father, and she insists he speak with him even if it will get her into trouble.
To the twittering sounds of birdsong, Jeffrey then goes down to breakfast with Aunt Barbara and his mother, who are upset by the bruises on his face. Jeffrey insists he doesn't want to talk about it and that everything is okay now. Barbara says that it's good to talk things over, that many marriages are saved by it. Jeffrey gently interrupts, "Aunt Barbara, I love you, but you're gonna get it."
It is because Sandy wears a red and black flannel shirt with this phone call that I feel Lynch is building a visual relationship between this phone call and the earlier sequence of scenes of Jeffrey's call, the man in the red and black flannel shirt purchasing the ax, followed by Jeffrey in this same office. What it is, I can't quite tease out.
The exterior of the police station. Two officers stand outside talking as a light yellow car passes by.
Inside, Jeffrey walks down a hall, a manila envelope in hand, on his way to see Detective Williams, Sandy having urged him to speak to her father. But when he gets to the office, he sees the Yellow Man sitting at a desk with the nameplate Det. T. R. Gordon. On the wall behind him is a Smith & Wesson Revolvers poster of a 19th century cowboy on a horse charging through the shallow water of a river. His gun out, he appears to be shooting at Indians who are following him. The poster is said to have been a 1964 advertising poster using art created in 1902 by Dan Smith.
Stunned, Jeffrey steps back out of sight, but the Yellow Man has seen him and his bruised face. Jeffrey takes a drink at the water fountain, glancing back at the man and the names beside the door: J. D. Williams and T. R. Gordon. He recollects Frank telling Ben, "Gordon went right up to him in broad daylight, of course, 'cause he's The Man, right, and he took all those drugs away and it was beautiful." Jeffrey leaves. The Yellow Man looks thoughtful over Jeffrey, curious, but he seems not to remember him as the bugman at Dorothy's.
A brief shot of Jeffrey on the night sidewalk with the manila envelope in hand, still dressed in the beige shirt he had worn earlier in the day when speaking with Sandy, and when he went to the police department. He pauses, reflecting on what he is about to do, then continues on. When seen on the sidewalk Jeffrey is always on his way to Sandy's.
Cut to the interior of the Williams' house and the doorbell ringing. Sandy descends the stairs as Williams tells her he's got it. Jeffrey enters and tells Williams he needs to talk to him. They go to Williams' home office. Sandy, on the stairs, looks apprehensive.
In the office, Jeffrey brings out his photos. He shows first a picture of Frank Booth, describing him as a sick and dangerous man, and that his address is on the back of the photo. The second photo he produces is of Frank and "another man" as they go into Frank's building. He looks at Williams for his reaction. We'd not seen the first photo but we are allowed to see the second, a black and white image of Frank and the Yellow Man getting out of the car, an Allied Van behind. Williams looks startled, and Jeffrey shows him the photo of "that man" coming out of the building and meeting a third man, a well-dressed guy. He tells Williams that he believes a woman named Dorothy Vallens is in trouble with these people, that Frank kidnapped her husband and son.
Cut to Sandy sitting on the stairs, waiting. Then back to Williams and Jeffrey in the office. Williams wants to know if Sandy is a part of this and Jeffrey assures him she's not. Williams asks who else knows of the photos. Jeffrey says just him and the photo lab. Williams asks if he's through with this business now and Jeffrey says that he is. Williams tells him he needs to be prepared to come in for further interrogation later.
Sandy rises from her seated position on the stairs as they exit. The wooden bannister ends in a spiral flourish at the bottom of the stairs, and Sandy nervously fondles it. The spiral may remind us of the ear. Jeffrey assures her everything is OK and he didn't involve her. Loudly, he asks, "Is Friday still on?" It is. We see the clock reads about 8:32 as Jeffrey exits. Williams stares at Sandy. Uncomfortable, she asks what's wrong. "There'd better be nothing wrong," he says.
All that the scene does is push forward the plot.
Plus, Sandy is no longer with Mike. We understand that she and Jeffrey are going on a date on Friday.
The exterior of the Beaumont house. Birds sing away as Jeffrey, still attired in his beige shirt, unbuttoned and showing a gray tank top, waters the rear lawn in the approximate area where his father had been watering when he had his stroke. He wears dark sunglasses.
Cut to a very brief shot of Jeffrey sitting beside his father at the hospital, his mother and Barbara, knitting away, also there and resting in armchairs. We gather from the shot that Mr. Beaumont is doing better and will survive. He doesn't speak but holds out his hand to Jeffrey and Jeffrey grasps it.
A revolving blue police light. Jeffrey drives up to the Williams house and parks just beyond a police car that sits in front. He passes directly in front of the police car and looks searchingly at it and the person inside but they are hidden behind a newspaper.
Inside, the bell rings and Mrs. Williams answers the door. Sandy, in the living room, is all ready, dressed in a sleeveless dress with a pink floral print. Her mother helps her put on a necklace and Jeffrey greets Detective Williams.
A face ducks in the front door and calls out, "Hey, John, get a move on." It's the Yellow Man. Alarmed, Jeffrey looks beseechingly at Williams. Williams whispers to him, "Easy does it. Behave yourself. Don't blow it."
Sandy wonders what is wrong and Jeffrey tells her it was just a little fatherly advice. They exit and Sandy, who knows nothing about Gordon, says goodbye to him.
We wonder why Tom Gordon is there and might believe that it likely has to do with the missing ear case. Something is going down tonight and Yellow Man may go right down with it.
In this scene we now have a good look at the Williams' living room, and its color scheme, layout and furnishings may strongly remind of the Palmer household in Twin Peaks, which brings me to the subject of why Hope Lange was possibly picked for the mother of Sandy. She appeared in the film soap opera drama Peyton Place, in 1957, as Selena Cross, a girl who was violently and sexually abused by her step-father, Lucas. After he rapes her following a dance, she becomes pregnant and confesses to the local doctor what happened. The doctor refuses to give her an abortion, but she falls when Lucas is abusing her again and miscarries. The doctor forces Selena's stepfather to leave town after he signs a confession that he had raped her. Later, he returns and when he tries to rape Selena again she kills him. The truth emerges at Selena's trial as to what happened to her, and she is exonerated by the confession Lucas had signed.
Hope Lange's first husband, Don Murray, would play Dougie's boss, Bushnell Mullins, in Twin Peaks: The Return.
Though the story of Selena Cross made for the heart of Peyton Place, the lead character was instead Allison, her best friend, a hopeful writer and daughter of a widow who is one of the many in Peyton Place who strives to appear unfailingly proper. But Allison learns, one day, that the man who raised her was not her real father. Unable to forgive her mother, for a time she becomes estranged from her.
How like Twin Peaks some of this sounds, Laura Palmer raped by her father, and her best friend Donna learning that Ben, not the doctor, is her father, and having difficulty reconciling herself with this fact. But there is a question of identity of the father with someone else in Twin Peaks, and that's Wally, the son of Lucy and Andy, though there was no dark secret in that case. Andy was well aware that the pregnant Lucy's child might not be his child, sparred for the right to be the father anyway, and Lucy chose him to partner with her and raise the child as his own. Which takes us back to the picture of Sandy, the square stuck inappropriately in the oval. There is no hint in the Willilams' household of any troubled history, just as there is no hint of it in Jeffrey's family. In Blue Velvet, trouble is a neighbor across Lincoln Street. But one can imagine how if Blue Velvet became a series...say something like, Twin Peaks, Sandy and Jeffrey might eventually be revealed to have dark secrets in their own families. Perhaps Sandy might have been revealed to not be Detective Williams' daughter, and the square picture in the oval frame in his office was symbolic of a forced fit. Just as the family portrait of Wally, Lucy and Andy is an awkward fit with all their smiling faces photoshopped clumsily together before a Christmas tree, which doesn't detract from the fact that in the world of Twin Peaks they have the purest of pure hearts, for reason of which Andy is chosen to shelter Naido and receive future knowledge that he doesn't understand, and Lucy kills the dark, doppelganger Cooper.
As they drive along, Sandy asks Jeffrey what was wrong and he assures her nothing. Lynch cuts away to show they pass a costume rental shop in which we can see a long, white wedding gown.
The party is one hosted by a schoolmate in a wood-paneled den. Proudly, Sandy enters with Jeffrey, and briefly goes over to greet her girlfriends. This party is on par with Sandy's announcement to Lumberton that she is no longer with Mike, that she is instead now with Jeffrey, the slightly older man, the Lumberton native who returned home from the big outside world and carries the exotic scent of the big outside world on him.
Jeffrey waits for Sandy before a seeming spinet piano on which is the image of a fish with bubbles rising from its gills. An allusion to Deep River, Dorothy's apartment complex? I don't know. But as we watch Jeffrey waiting for Sandy, who knows nothing about Jeffrey's relationship with Dorothy, who is introducing him as her boyfriend, we think of Dorothy. We think of Dorothy when Jeffrey and Sandy dance to Badalamenti and Lynch's "Mysteries of Love".
Sometimes a wind blows
And you and I
Float in love
And kiss forever
In the darkness
And the mysteries of love
In you, in me
And show that we are alive
One senses perhaps, with Jeffrey, an initial hesitation as Sandy kisses him. He has a secret that stands between them, his violent night with Dorothy. But then he gives in "and the mysteries of love come clear" with Sandy. Still, we might realize, as Sandy and Jeffrey dance and kiss, in this wood-paneled basement den, surrounded by other dancing teenagers, that though this place in which Jeffrey and Sandy publicly show their love for one another is quite different from Dorothy's apartment that holds the dark secret of Jeffrey's having had sex with her, it is like Dorothy's apartment in that this basement den also has no windows. It too is sealed off from the outside world.
Jeffrey and Sandy leave the party, and are immediately, threateningly pursued by another car. At first, Jeffrey thinks it's Frank, and his plan is to get home where his father has a gun. Then Sandy realizes it's instead Mike and his friends who are trying to run them off the road.
They pull up before Jeffrey's house. Mike leaps out of the car to beat up Jeffrey, yelling, "You stole my girl, now I'm going to kick your ass!" Sandy entreats him to stop but he tells her to shut up, that nobody's talking to her.
In the midst of this commotion, the ghostly specter of a nude Dorothy suddenly appears on the Beaumont lawn, dazed, bloodied. Mike, drunk, seeing her, asks Jeffrey, "Who's that? Is that your mother?" As Jeffrey moves toward Dorothy, Mike grabs him and calls him an "ivy league shit", which is the first we learn, in the film, where Jeffrey was before being called home. Jeffrey assists Dorothy down from the lawn to the car (we see the house number, 109, in the background), as Sandy realizes who it is, and Mike, comprehending the gravity of the situation, becomes apologetic, saying, "I'm really sorry. I'm really sorry. I didn't know. I'm really sorry."
We don't know exactly what Mike thinks he didn't know, but he at least feels horrible about it and leaves.
Sandy tells Jeffrey to take Dorothy to her house, that her father can quickly get an ambulance. When Jeffrey asks if Gordon will be there, she says probably not, but why? "Nothing," he says. Dorothy, draped now in Sandy's pink shawl, emerges a little from her state of shock, asking, "Is that you, Jeffrey?" She embraces him, relieved, and Sandy realizes that something more has happened between them than what she knows about.
Dorothy has repeatedly confused Jeffrey for Don, and now Mike has believed she is Jeffrey's mother (though Isabella is only seven years older than Kyle).
The young man whose mother figure attempts to seduce him is an occasional theme in Lynch's work. In Eraserhead, his future mother-in-law, demanding Henry marry her mysteriously pregnant daughter, attempts to kiss him. In Wild at Heart, Lula's drunken, controlling mother attempts to seduce Sailor, Lula's boyfriend, is unrelenting in her bitter jealousy that he refused her, and is eventually identified with the Wicked Witch of The Wizard of Oz. In Twin Peaks, Ed's wife, Nadine, for a while believes she is a teen again and falls in love with a high school jock who looks a good deal like Sandy's Mike and is even named Mike, but that relationship doesn't quite as much fit the troubled incestuous bill, whereas, of course, Leland's assaults on his daughter, Laura, do. David Lynch has said this scene was inspired by the actual event of his seeing, as a child, a disoriented, nude woman wandering down the street in his otherwise normal neighborhood, which imposed a lasting shock--but it's interesting that she has been blended with a mother figure, which Dorothy indeed has been to Jeffrey, in-as-much that he has been powerfully impressed by her being a mother. Her son's cone party hat has been observed a couple of times, Jeffrey for some reason choosing to go into the boy's bedroom and bring it out after he had violent sex with Dorothy. When he later tearfully reflected on that night, he returned to thinking of not only his abuse of Dorothy, but the child's hat, and hearing Dorothy pleading with her son, in the back room of the brothel, that she loved him, the tone of her voice such that one could imagine a young, frustrated child, believing he'd been abandoned, striking out at her.
Returning for a moment to Jeffrey's house number, it is 109. I've pointed out how Dorothy's apartment number was 710, which flipped upside down is OIL. The entrance to the Red Room in Twin Peaks has the well outside with the substance that smells like scorched oil. We also saw on the resident's board at Dorothy's building "STYLES D 601", which is 109 when inverted, like 710 becomes OIL. I'm unable to tease out any meaning to this, if there is intended to be.
Sandy and Jeffrey take Dorothy to Sandy's home. Her father isn't there, but her mother is, and so too is also a witness to Dorothy's confession of her relationship with Jeffrey, and the impact of it on her daughter.
Dorothy, clinging to Jeffrey, asks him where he's been. She tells him they've "hurt him" and entreats him to hold her. "My secret love" she says, caressing his face, Jeffrey glancing guiltily at Sandy. "I love you! Love me!" she screams at him, then turns her bruised, bloodied body to Sandy and her mother, and opening her arms wide tells them, "He put his disease in me." Turning again to Jeffrey she begs him, "Tell me it's all right. I open myself to you. Tell me it's all right. They've hurt his head. Don. Help me! Promise me you'll help him!"
As Dorothy is loaded into an ambulance, Jeffrey tells Sandy he should go. She yells at him to go and slaps him.
In the ambulance, as it drives away, Dorothy shakes off her oxygen mask and screams, "I'm falling! I'm falling! Help me!"
We are returned to Lynch's screenplay in which Jeffrey's dream had involved the suicidal Dorothy's red shoe falling from the top of her building and becoming her screaming lips.
Though Jeffrey leaves, he and Sandy are almost immediately reconciled . After Dorothy's scream, Lynch cuts to several red hearts hanging on the wall in Sandy's room beside a Montgomery Clift poster. Still in her party dress, on the phone with Jeffrey who went with Dorothy to the hospital, Sandy forgives him and tells him she loves him. Jeffrey tells her to get ahold of her father and send the police to Dorothy's apartment. He is on his way there. Dorothy has, after all, pleaded with Jeffrey to help Don.
When they hang up, Sandy tearfully wonders, "Where is my dream?" Her vision of the robins that bring love, dispersing the darkness.
Jeffrey is dropped off by a taxi at Dorothy's, as Sandy attempts to reach her father but is unable to do so. His whereabouts are unknown to the police.
Hearing a strange sound emanating from Dorothy's apartment, Jeffrey pauses at the door, but enters. Within he finds The Yellow Man, shot in the right temple, but standing, frozen, between the television, the screen of which has been shot out, and a floor lamp. Shot through the forehead, Don sits in a wooden chair backed against the bar, a piece of blue velvet stuck in his mouth. Blood from Don's gunshot soaks the sink of the kitchen and covers the wall above it. Though it seems the bandage would cover his ear, we see where his left ear, the one Jeffrey had found, had been cut away. Perhaps the bandage covers where his right ear may have been cut off, as suggested in the screenplay.
The sound Jeffrey heard perhaps comes from the busted television.
What in the world has happened? Gordon, as far as we know, was a partner of Frank's. Did Frank shoot him? What is Don doing here? Why has he been returned to his apartment? Why was he shot dead now? Why was he shot dead here rather than elsewhere? Why was Gordon shot, who was earlier with Williams? Why is Gordon here, when he was earlier with Williams, they riding in the same patrol car? These are questions that are never answered and infuse the scene in deep mystery. Dorothy, who somehow managed to escape, must know the answers, but we never hear her witness. She only said that "they've" hurt him (Don).
We don't know why, when Sandy attempted to contact her father, his whereabouts are unknown. We assume (and probably rightly) it has to do with the raid, but we are still left with the question as to what happened so that we find Gordon here in Dorothy's.
Remember that Sandy's father had asked Jeffrey who else had known about the photos. He told him no one knew about them.
Gordon's police radio observed in his pocket, suddenly a voice comes over it, saying, "Get back and stay down." Reflexively, Gordon's body strikes out, hitting the lamp, its shade falling to the floor. We hear, "It's Frank Booth, apartment 26." Then, "Lieutenant, we're at Frank's place now. The raid has commenced, as scheduled."
Probably the most shocking moment in the film is when Gordon strikes the lamp. It eclipses even when Dorothy was abused by Frank. The two frozen men remind of the man in front of the store who was twirling the object around his finger, and as I earlier noted what was most disconcerting about him seemed a lack of self-consciousness of presence, his own as well as any who might have been watching him. Then we had the man of a similar body type who was walking his dog. The mood at the brothel, though different, had a similar feel of dissociation in that the prostitutes, in their peculiar waiting room, seemed almost mechanical in their blasé lack of concern for the tragedy around them, the abuse they witness. They behaved as if without any critical thought, which is the condition to which Gordon has been physically reduced. All that is left is his body, his mind decimated, and yet he still moves, his body strikes out automatically in response to the radio. He is a zombie. If Lynch had done straight out horror films, it seems to me he would have been drawn to doing zombie films.
Ketty Lester's version of "Love Letters", released in 1962, begins to play. Of the three principle songs in the film, two are from 1963 and one from 1962. The aural focus of the film is on that period of time when America went through the shock of the assassination of a president, John F. Kennedy, which was the beginning of a period of assassinations of prominent political/activist individuals. This connects with Dorothy's apartment being on Lincoln Street, Lincoln having been another assassinated president.
Love letters, straight from your heart...
The music mingles with transmissions over the police radio of the raid. We see Williams saying that, "25 is vacant. Maybe we can go through there." This is followed by a hail of gunfire from Frank's apartment, and police officers being felled by their cars and Allied moving vans. More cross fire.
Keep us so near, while apart...
Cut back to Jeffrey.
I'm not alone, in the night...
Jeffrey surveying the horror, says, "I'm going to let them find you on their own."
When I can have, all the love, you write
I memorize every line...
Jeffrey turns and leaves the apartment. As he shuts the door, the music stops. As he descends the fire escape, he sees the well-dressed man arrive, and recollects his meeting with Gordon, then remembers Gordon getting out of the car with Frank before that meeting. He is already putting two and two together before he looks down through the stairs and sees Frank, disguised with a mustache, looking back up at him.
This is another question never answered in the film, why Frank would go to Dorothy's. He is not there to pursue Jeffrey, he didn't know Jeffrey would be there.
Another question never answered in the film is the "why" of the well-dressed man. Complicating him is what we know from when Jeffrey had photographed Frank and Yellow Jacket Man arriving at Frank's building, and then Jeffrey photographing Yellow Jacket Man later greeting the well-dressed man outside and shaking hands with him as if they are unfamiliar with one another or not on familiar terms. Again, there is no answer.
Lynch has certainly revisited The Well-Dressed Man in episode 15 of Twin Peaks: The Return, when, at the roadhouse, ZZ Top's 1983 "Sharp Dressed Man" is playing when Renee's husband attacks James Hurley for paying her attention, and Freddie knocks him out with his magic fist. But, as far as I can tell, that scene does nothing to illuminate Frank as the Well-Dressed Man in Blue Velvet. All we know is that Frank has a Well-Dressed Man disguise, and perhaps Lynch counts this as a kind of double, doppelganger.
The last shot from Dorothy's apartment will be the image of a doubling.
Jeffrey runs back to the apartment, grabs the police radio from Gordon's coat pocket, and hides in Dorothy's bedroom, where we see her blue velvet robe on a chair. He calls Williams over the radio and tells him he's hiding in Dorothy Vallens' apartment, and that Frank is on his way up in the well-dressed man disguise. He's saying he has no way out, when he tosses down the radio, remembering that Frank also has a radio.
Cut to Sandy running down the street to Dorothy's building.
Jeffrey gets back on the radio to tell Williams he is hiding in the back bedroom. He places the radio under the bed and has just enough time to run and hide in the closet in the living room before Frank enters.
Frank calls out, "Hey, neighbor! You shit-for-brains! Man! You forgot I have a police radio? One fucking well-dressed man knows where your fucking cute little butt's hiding..."
Frank takes the blue velvet from Don's mouth, and tells him here he comes, ready or not. Hearing Gordon's police radio from the bedroom, he yells, "I can hear your fucking radio, you stupid shit!" Frank wraps the blue velvet around his gun, huffs gas through his mask then enters the bedroom. He fires wildly about the room as Jeffrey sneaks out of the closet, takes Gordon's gun from his jacket, and takes refuge in the closet again.
Frank looks for him in the child's room, then the bathroom. He enters the living room and shoots the television, silencing it. He fires upon Gordon, who falls.
Then Frank zeros in on the closet. He approaches it, huffing through the gas mask. He opens the door. From the same closet in which Jeffrey had watched Frank abuse Dorothy, Jeffrey shoots Frank through the forehead.
Sandy has entered, immediately followed by her father, who surveys the scene and tells Jeffrey, "It's all over."
The double lightbulbs of the floor lamp Gordon had knocked over flare out.
Outside, the camera pans down from the dark upper floors of the apartment building, spanning all six of them, to ambulances and police cars flocking before the building. In the hall near Dorothy's apartment, Dorothy and Jeffrey kiss. A bright light comes up on Sandy's hair, which consumes the screen.
We hear "The Mysteries of Love" song.
And kiss forever
In the darkness...
Those familiar with Lynch are aware of how electricity is used in his films to link with alternate worlds and possibilities. They are also familiar with his use of doubles, which is a common theme with many writers, filmmakers, and artists. These two combine in the lamp that Gordon, in his zombie state, knocks the shade off of, revealing the double light underneath. Then Lynch chooses to end the story of Dorothy's apartment with a close-up on the double light flaring out into darkness. It is the final shot, after which he cuts to the hall outside and as Sandy and Jeffrey kiss her hair blond hair flares with light.
Cut to a close-up of Jeffrey's right ear and zoom out.
And the mysteries of love
And dance in love...
Jeffrey reclines in a lawn chair in the Beaumont back yard. Opening his eyes, he sees a puppet-like robin in the branches of the tree above.
Sandy steps outside and calls him inside for lunch, because this is a safe, secure America and women make food and men putter around outside until it's ready and then eat it. Whatever.
"I'm ready," Jeffrey says.
In you, in me
And show that we are alive.
Jeffrey calls out to his father and Williams who are also in the back yard, "How are you guys doing?" His father calls back, "I feel much better now, Jeff". He wears the same pants when he had collapsed with the stroke, but his shirt is different.
Sandy with Aunt Barbara in the kitchen, Barbara calls her attention to the window.
Jeffrey beckons his mother and Sandy's mother, who are in the living room, to lunch.
Sandy calls Jeffrey over to look at the same puppet-like robin perched outside the window, a bug in its beak. Jeffrey remarks, "Maybe the robins are here."
Aunt Barbara, nibbling on something, says she doesn't see how they could do that. She could never eat a bug. Jeffrey and Sandy laugh, bemused. "It's a strange world, isn't it," Sandy says.
Sometimes the wind blows...
The robin is jarring. It isn't real. Something about it looks real but it moves unnaturally, looks unnatural, is unnatural. It is reminiscent of Disney animatronic birds such as in Mary Poppins but hasn't the same air of the jovial. It's like a Disney animatronic seem without a filter of suspension of disbelief, without golden halo of childhood. It's not right. Not right at all.
Crossfade from the robin to the yellow tulips we'd seen at the film's beginning. To the bright red Federal Point fire truck with its fireman waving at the camera as it passes.
And the mysteries of love, come clear...
Cut to the red roses before the white picket fence.
Then to Dorothy's son in a bright striped shirt and overalls, the whirligig hat on his head. He plays in a park, his back to us. We see shadows on the park lawn of a flock of birds flying overhead, as the boy approaches Dorothy who rests on a bench, smiling, watching him. We never clearly see his face as he folds into her arms. Dorothy grasps him up in a tight hug. Her smile turns pensive, distracted.
And I still can see blue velvet through my tears...
Pan up beyond the leaves of the trees to the blue sky, then the blue velvet curtain that had begun the film.
The zoom-out from Jeffrey's ear, at the beginning of this section, strongly links to the zoom-in on the night ear of Don in the trees as Jeffrey makes his way to the Williams' house for the first time. Some try to explain away what happens between as being only a dream, just as some try to explain away what happens in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut as being only a dream, and in the case of Lynch we have his having intentionally constructed parallels with The Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy's journey turns out to be a dream from when she was knocked unconscious, and yet, as she protests, she really did go there. As in the case of Dorothy Gale, to explain away what has happened as only a dream is too clean and doesn't take into account changes evidenced in Jeffrey's life between the film's beginning and end. The ending is a circular one, that revisits the beginning, takes us back to it, but the horror of Tom Beaumont's stroke has now become a later place of healing. Tom is feeling better, Sandy points out the robins have arrived, and we see Dorothy playing in the park with her son.
Lynch visits again this image of the man in the lawn chair in Lost Highway. That film concerns a couple who become aware they are being voyeuristically filmed in their home by an individual who can be best described as devilish. When Fred, the husband, meets him at a party, having previously seen him in a seeming dream, the man tells him that even though he is at the party he is also, at that very moment, in their home, and has Fred call and speak with him there. Fred, the husband, is eventually accused with the horrific murder of his wife, and goes to prison. One night, he disappears from his cell and a man named Pete has taken his place. There is no explanation at all for this. Everyone is befuddled. There is no choice but to release Pete, who is not Fred, and has murdered no one. After this, Pete has trouble reintegrating back to normal life. We view him in a lawn chair in the back yard in a shot that duplicates this one. Much trouble and tragedy befalls Pete, who later will replaced again with Fred.
There can be no unraveling the story into a neat, clean one in which reality is on one side of the fence and dream is on the other. As I've stated, two realities in the film have been constructed. There is the one in which the viewer has been convinced that, however it is fiction, they are watching a "true" fiction, one that conforms to the laws of the real world. The other reality is that this isn't the case at all. Fiction is not real and what happens in the fiction is so not real it is impossible according to the laws of the natural world. Individuals attempt to take the second reality and make it into a "true" fiction by nudging it into a dream narrative. "It was all but a dream." To do so misses one of the main points of the film, that these neat delineations and boxes are themselves impossible and unnatural. What has happened in the story is complex and occurs on several interlocking levels, just as life is complex and the neat, clean, place of security and rose-and-tulip beauty with which the film appears to begin and end is a matter of a unique perspective that only works from a very isolated vantage point. At the beginning, that security is destroyed by Tom Beaumont's brain going haywire. At the end, that security is betrayed by behaviors of the robin that Barbara is unable to understand as it is not human, and betrayed again by Dorothy's embrace of her son, whose face we never really see, which is for the best as our sense of him remains fuzzy, distant, unreal. He may as well have never existed, instead representing the abandoned child in us all. Reunited, Dorothy smiles at his play, but she is unsettled. However the film is to be interpreted, one of the last emotional recognitions had by the viewer is that Dorothy's son, who seems all right, has a terrible history, as does his mother, and we are uncertain as to how this will play out in their future. The innocence of the Lumberton that opened the film has been recognized as false, and though the circularity of the film returns us to those images in the end, rather than much of the audience accepting, as they had at the beginning, this was "real", they are instead as unsettled as Dorothy is, skeptical of the animatronic bird and the beautiful tulips and roses. Undoubtedly, the shadow is still there and will re-emerge.
Thus Twin Peaks.
Crimes have appeared to have been solved and everything is sunshine and roses again. But Frank had called out to Jeffrey that one "well-dressed" man knew where he was. We can believe that Frank called that out because he had heard Jeffrey say this on the radio, or we might wonder if Frank had been told by Sandy's father that Jeffrey had recognized him as the "well-dressed" man. For we must always wonder why Gordon was no longer with Detective Williams when they had been riding in the same police car. We must wonder how Gordon ended up at Dorothy's. We must wonder who shot him and who shot Don. The audience assumes it was Frank, and perhaps it was, but even if it was, we must always wonder if someone else was there. We must wonder why no one knew where Detective Williams was when Sandy called for him. It's been assumed the lack of knowledge of his whereabouts has to do with the raid. But, again, Williams and Gordon left together in the police car that evening. What happened between then and when Gordon was found in Dorothy's apartment by Jeffrey? Detective Williams may be entirely innocent, but it's a question that has been left open in a very Twin Peaks way.
The stilted return to beautiful Lumberton, at film's end, should feel very unsettled.
Having just seen the deleted scenes, I can say that there's not a single thing in them that would do anything other than detract from the film and subvert what became Blue Velvet. Some ruthless, brilliant editing was done that pulled together a tight picture that in significant ways was radically different from what was initially imagined. Jeffrey at college would have taken us out of the environment of Lumberton and destroyed its hermetic seal. Additional home scenes amplified a sense of sickness in the home, even a part of the home itself, but this is better left with the number of ways the film already suggests conflicts hidden beneath the sweet perfume of the flowers. Lynch would later resurrect the roof scene in Twin Peaks: The return with Naido, but also alter it so there is no question of the possibility of a suicidal leap, instead Naido is forcefully blown off a roof into eternity. Surviving her fall, she is magically revealed to be...Laura Dern. And I do think there was a fair amount of Sandy and Jeffrey in that reunion of Cooper and Diane Evans.
Approx 27,000 words or 54 single-spaced pages. A 207 minute read at 130 wpm..