“Blue Velvet”, on TCM Cinema: the nightmarish and transgressive visions of David Lynch

Once upon a time there was a small town in America

“Blue Velvet”, on TCM Cinema: the nightmarish and transgressive visions of David Lynch

Once upon a time there was a small town in America. Peaceful town. Birds chirp under the azure sky. The fire engine displays its scarlet bodywork in the sleepy streets. The weather is nice, it’s hot, it’s summer, this country looks like paradise. Wouldn’t it be the other way around?

By exploring this immaculate site and these rose beds a little more closely, do we not enter a labyrinth of incongruous horrors, do we not come across nightmarish visions? Which, as long as we look at them with a special eye, conceal unexpected beauties...

David Lynch says he built Blue Velvet around three elements: the song performed by Bobby Vinton (1963) which gives its title to the film and constitutes its leitmotif, an old voyeur fantasy (that of slipping into a girl's bedroom to observe it in secret all night), and the image of a severed ear in the middle of a meadow. Let us add his fascination with the color blue, that of the velvet which drapes the girl spied on (a cabaret singer named Dorothy Vallens), contrasting with her dense lipstick.

Poisonous splendors

But let's return to this ear lying in the grass, whose defiler a man will try to unmask, and let's get closer. It is invaded by ants which swarm by the hundreds. Nothing innocent in this site where we will discover a sadistic killer, a brown cop, a murdered drug dealer, a pimp painted like a clown, a haggard woman and a cute robin pecking at insects that had done nothing to him.

Haunted by transgression (Blue Velvet begins with the death of the investigator's father, struck down by a heart attack, collapsing on the lawn), determined to penetrate the forbidden rooms, David Lynch wants to see the hidden things , everything that proves the existence of the bizarre in this world. He tracks down the ugly and its poisonous splendors. He is on the lookout for abnormality, his eye fixed on the most mysterious secrets of the human body, on these “disturbing strangenesses” which by their very profusions prove their normality. He painted what he would later call “the inland empire”, the resemblance between men and insects, the presence of a monster in each of us.

The investigator in Blue Velvet progresses according to his unconscious rather than to the rhythm of his harvest of clues, and these wandering thoughts that he puts into images, David Lynch will force us to admit in Mulholland Drive (in 2001) that they are also those of the spectator, the mental images of everyone, those of duplications stirred up by Hollywood, the dream factory.