BLUE VELVET (1986) Opening scene

Blue Velvet is my favorite David Lynch movie. It's probably his most accessible and straight forward film, but that that doesn't mean it lacks any sophistication in its construct. It's a fantastic examination of the rotten, disturbing underbelly beneath the polished and beautiful surface of classical (North) America. It has some great performances, including Kyle McLachlan's naive and inquisitive Jeffrey Beaumont, Laura Dern as Sandy the equally naive but beautiful daughter of a detective, Isabella Rossellini as the tortured Dorothy Vallens, and a wonderfully menacing Dennis Hopper (at his arguable best) as Frank Booth.

The opening to the film is an excellent one, as it introduces us to Utopia, the American Dream of a beautiful suburbia, with its white picket fences, azure blue skies, and shiny red fire engines. Things quickly go awry though, as an old man (we shortly find out is Jeffrey's father) is watering the lawn. His hose gets stuck and, boy oh boy, civilization breaks down: the faucet is leaking, the hose is wrapped around a shrub, and suddenly he grabs his neck in pain as he is hit by some sort of stroke. The man falls to the ground, in the mud, crushing some meticulously set up gardening strings for a flower bed, while the hose sprays upwards from his crotch while a dog grotesquely gnashes at the spritz and an innocent child wanders into frame, witnessing it all. We go even deeper as Lynch plunges the camera into the damp soil, under the emerald lawn, and takes us down to the festering underworld of scurrying insects and beetles beneath. This is the beginning of Lynch's examination of the conflicting views of darkness versus light in America, where things which are out of sight come into view and very clearly into mind.

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