Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Film Review: Blue Velvet

The final film we watched from the ‘Unhomely’ film programme was Blue Velvet, which was directed by David Lynch and was released in 1986.

Fig. 1 Blue Velvet Poster

When Jeffrey Beaumont discovers a severed ear in an overgrown backlot in his home town, his world begins to plunge into the depths of the criminal underworld where money, drugs and corruption are rife. However, he and his accomplice Sandy don't know quite what or who they are dealing with, as Jamie Russell's review explains:

"Jeffrey and Sandy are babes in the woods who stumble into the very adult world of nightclub singer Dorothy (Rossellini) and her torturer-lover Frank (Hopper) - the big bad wolf in this Grimm fairy tale. What they witness is something that their mom and apple pie family life has never prepared them for - S/M, kidnapping, murder, and various sexual perversions." (Russell, 2001)

Upon finding the ear and reporting it to the police, Jeffrey takes it upon himself, with some assistance form Sandy, to uncover the truth. But what they don't realise is the sick and twisted world they are trying to uncover, belongs to the psychotic and extremely dangerous Frank Booth. Unfortunately for Jeffrey he witnesses the horrible sexual abuse of Dorothy at the hands of Frank in which causes her deep psychological damage. As Jeffrey watches on in horror, the audience can't help but fell sympathy for the poor woman and what this is doing to her.

One of the most interesting characters of this film is in fact Frank Booth as Rob Fraser states:

"...Frank remains an astonishing creation. He is a terrifying individual, perverse and brutal, with the attention span and tantrum capacity of a small child." (Fraser, -)

He appears to have some sort of duel personality which is primarily exposed with his sexual encounters with Dorothy. Brought on by the inhalation of what can be assumed as a gaseous substance, Frank exhibits his mother craving, child side which constantly switches between the abusive Frank and his child like state. This could suggest that as a child Frank was deprived of his mother or never knew. Either way this created a backlash in his psyche in which as an adult he still secretly needs her.

The ending of the film depicts a completely different setting to that experienced throughout in which a happy and loving family life between Jeffery and Sandy and both of their families as Gerald Peary explains:

"Let's conclude with Blue Velvet's ending: Frank dead, his gang smashed by the police, Dorothy reunited with her child, Jeff and Sandy together, and a red, red robin sitting on the window sill." (Peary, 2002)

But something seems very much a miss with this idyllic family setting which makes the atmosphere of this final scene rather peculiar and artificial. Having gone through such a violent and psychological ordeal would have surely had their affects on those involved afterwards. Take Dorothy for example. She is seen briefly with her son, playing and smiling but at the hands of Frank she suffered so much abuse which caused psychological damage. if the scene had been set 5 or 6 years later then this would have been more acceptable. However, if we examine the bird from the window sill, we can see that it has a beetle in its mouth which suggests that the evil of the past events is still lingering.

list of Illustrations

Figure 1. Lynch, David (1986) Blue Velvet Poster. At:
(Accessed on 12.01.11)


Russell, Jamie (2001) Blue Velvet. At:
(Accessed on 12.01.11)

Fraser, Rob (-) Blue Velvet. At:
(Accessed on 12.01.11)

Peary, Gerald (2002) Blue Velvet. At:
(Accessed on 12.01.11)

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