“She wore Blue Velvet, Bluer than velvet was the night”
– Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris, 1950.
When my friend Nathan and I went to see the so-called “cult classic” Blue Velvet (1986) at the newly opened Studio 74 cinema in the Phoenix, I didn’t really know what to expect. The description on the Phoenix’s website had said “(David) Lynch’s erotically charged exploration of crime, voyeurism and sexual perversion challenges perceptions of what makes a true love story.” I was certainly intrigued.
When we arrived we were immediately invited to sample a delicious Blue Velvet cupcake topped with a severed ear made out of icing, the significance of which would soon become clear to those viewing the film for the first time.
The cinema space itself is very cosy and modern with the old fashioned light up signs adding a bit of a retro twist although it’s so brand spanking new that is does still smell of wood chippings and paint – nothing that some popcorn can’t solve!
Before the film started the man who had greeted us at the door invited us to look under our seats for “severed ears” and the two lucky people who found a fabric ear (thankfully not a real one) under their seats were promised a prize if they took it to the bar. I thought about cutting off my own ear to get a prize but on reflection I decided it wasn’t worth it.
The film starts off as bizarrely as it finishes. The opening scene seems quite normal at first – it’s a sunny day in the town of Lumberton, North Carolina and all is well until we witness a man suffering a stroke whilst watering his garden. This incident is the catalyst which sparks a chain reaction of events as the film just snowballs into absurdity.
The man’s son, Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan a.k.a Orson from Desperate Housewives) returns from University to see his father and while walking home from the hospital he discovers a severed ear in the grass. After bringing this piece of evidence to the police, Jeffrey then becomes inextricably entwined in a story of lust, kidnapping, subversion and eroticism.
We see the classic case of a small town boy who after having broadened his horizons a little is inherently curious and doesn’t just accept what he’s told. When he happens to meet the Police chief’s daughter Sandy and finds out that she has learnt some key information to the case through eavesdropping, he can’t help but get involved.
For those who think Fifty Shades of Grey is erotic, it has nothing on Blue Velvet. What is erotic about the colour grey anyway? It’s bland, boring and dull. In comparison this film is so vivid that for two hours you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the screen…no matter how much you may want to. From Dorothy’s red lipstick as she sings the floaty ballad “Blue Velvet” in a nightclub to her blue velvet nightgown, every detail and prop the director has used just serves to seduce the viewer and draw us closer into this sensual and perverted world.
I’ll admit that for most of the film I was quite confused as to what was actually going on and questioned the cupcake I’d been offered at the beginning. As we exited the cinema we were invited to have another one. Nathan had no fear and dove straight in although he did turn to look at me with a look of utter bewilderment and said “What just happened?” In the end I took another cupcake although now it was a bit harder for me to stomach the severed ear.
Blue Velvet is definitely worth a watch, even if you’re not into highly abstract films and even though it’s described as a “neo-noir mystery” you’d be forgiven if your only response to it is – “what?”