Blue Velvet (1986)

A new angle perhaps? Who in their lifetime amongst us has not sang along to a favourite song whether in company or in private? This we can all relate to. At certain points in our life a piece of music reaches out to us from a stereo, radio, ipod etc. We are being stalked by our innermost secrets, fears and desires manifested in the form of let’s say a three/four minute song.

They seek us here, they seek us there, they seek us everywhere and like an electrical current bring us to life, spark something inside and take us over wholesale. We relinquish control willingly and it all rushes, spills out of us. The music is a conduit for those feelings buried underneath, our coping mechanisms are unlocked, our masks taken away from us and we must respond. To deny ourselves a response is to deny ourselves and our very nature.

A director who intuitively understands the power of music and it’s ability to transport and act as a gateway into our dreams, our subconscious, David Lynch. His use of music is unique in the way he subverts and plays with the apparently naive, innocent tone and lyrics of old pop standards and reveals something far more disturbed within both the song and the scene in which it is placed. The film stops in it’s tracks, narrative is abandoned and a  heightened dream or nightmare feel is achieved with the emotional temperature pitched at feverish, unpredictable, dangerous level.

In this now iconic scene from Blue Velvet, Lynch uses Roy Orbison’s 1963 hit “In Dreams” to chilling effect, somehow making a scene that is already unsettling even more so as a kabuki faced “suave fuck” named Ben (Dean Stockwell) serenades his psychotic accomplice Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) with a lip synched version of the song. Kyle Mc Lachlan’s Jeffrey is the terrified, captive audience to this bizarre exchange.

The song soothes the beast momentarily but Frank’s emotions are too strong, he is the id manifest. For a moment, we see his vulnerability but the conflict within is too strong and he soon gives into rage and violence, the performance is cut short and all that is left is for him to satisfy his uncontrollable desire to corrupt anything that symbolizes purity and innocence, states of being which he can never attain.