I have some sort of a personal connection to Blue Velvet and really, a story of how I first learned about Criterion and the trained virtue of respecting films. It was some time of Spring 2019 or Fall of 2019. A high time of me running around with whatever a freshman and sophomore worries about—grades, relationships, and wanting to get more sleep.
I remember it distinctly. The room of my advisor. We will call him N.N., the great gentleman, so to preserve his privacy. He was and still is the biggest movie enjoyer I know. Anything. Ask him about Pink Flamingos, Divine, The Asylum, Sleazoid Express, Something Weird Video, Bloody Pit of Horror, and I shudder at thought of what the actual list would be like. He knows it all.
Thanks to him, I took the Trash Cinema course during my first semester of college, which set me on the bright path that I followed ever since. One day at his office, after a semester of our active bonding—he told me with all the excitement in the world how much he’s waiting for Criterion’s Blue Velvet to come out at the end of May in 2019.
I have heard of Blue Velvet because Twin Peaks is my favorite show—I’ve done a great disservice to David lynch by never seeing his film. A while after, I finally watched Blue Velvet on my little laptop screen in the middle of my dorm bedroom on my bunk bed. Let me make my confession—I did not understand what I really saw. The topics of the evil lurking beneath and how our environment corrupts were some of the big points I understood.
As time went on, almost 5 years later—I decided to give it a watch again. Of course, I got the Criterion’s edition, so I can enjoy the newly restored picture, better audia, and all of the original extra documentaries and special edition features. The 120 minute runtime just went by like this. I wonder how many graduate papers were written and in how many film programs is Blue Velvet included as a required part of their curriculum.
The idea of Blue Velvet and not to over-analyze David Lynch’s work as well—you have to feel it through, the idea that I see holds up just as it did from way back then. There is a great deal of mystery, evil, and potential for corruption within all of us. Who can truly know the true underbelly of the idyllic America we built with all the shiny bright colors—suffering a severe case of schizophrenia—the grand delusion with a mammoth lie at its core, which we all believe in so sheepishly like some complicit livestock.
“Don’t look at it, it’s not your responsibility.”
Is what one says while living in fear of their carefully-constructed personas leaking the black goo, which oozes from the subconscious mind. There is some message, yet again, like in Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low and Dostoevksy’s Brothers Karamazov. More of a thought that in truth—we are all brothers, fundamentally carrying responsibility for one another, as we are humans—none of us live in isolation. To impact and affect someone is the biggest action of an immoral stature that one can partake in. Recall Lord Henry,
“There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral-immoral from the scientific point of view.”
“Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self. [...]”
Somehow, deep down—American Dream of suburbia always felt insanely dystopian in a malevolent kind of way. This is not paranoia or “seeing things through projecting”. Can you not feel it? Can you not feel how hollow that dream is? It’s a strange world, isn’t?