Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Light and Dark

Most everything I wrote down as an observation has already been covered, save one thing that I'm not sure what it means. I noticed that at several different points in the film, Lynch uses darkness and light. Now unfortunately I didn’t notice this until the end, so I probably missed some examples, but I noticed it (1) In the opening scene with the bugs, the camera starts out with well lit, green grass, and slowly moves into darkness as it approaches the bugs (2) There’s a scene when Jeff is coming down from his room (just before talking to his mom), when almost the entire screen is dark, with only his doorway, with him standing in it, is lit (3) the first shot with Sandy, the camera is looking into straight darkness and then she slowly walks out of it. (4) in one of the last scenes (this is when I first thought of this as something to observe) Jeff and Sandy embrace in the hallway of the apartment building, and then the screen fades to brilliant while light, just like in the dream sandy described.  

I didn't really think that one observation was enough, so I thought I’d post about some of the analysis that I couldn’t help doing when I watched the movie a second time. So if you want to analyze it with a clean mind, stop here. 
To me, the most memorable scene of the film is the one where frank throws a party with Ben, cumulating in the pair lip-synching the Roy Orbison song “In Dreams”. Something about the barrenness of the room matched with the hollow emptiness of the characters who occupy it is both visually striking and emotionally disturbing. As frank cries, you are struck by the duality of his character’s nature; while on one hand he is a cruel, violent, and very sick character, his tears, both during Dorothy’s performance of “Blue Velvet” and during the Orbison song, reveal that these characteristics must stem from deep-seated emotional pain. Perhaps the lyrics of the Orbison song will provide some insight:

 In dreams I walk with you
In dreams I talk to you
In dreams you’re mine all the time
We’re together in dreams, in dreams 

            To me, it seems like Frank’s anger might stem from his disillusionment with his life. He is brought to tears when he is reminded that he can only achieve happiness “in dreams”, while he is doomed to a life of hollowness and despair. After crying, he lashes out in anger, stopping the song and roaring off into the night. I think that this scene above all is one of the most revealing and meaningful one of the film.
So yeah, this is definitely jumping ahead past “fondling the details” but to me, this movie seemed less about good vs. evil (although I certainly think that is a part) but more about finding meaning (or failing to do so, as frank does) in everyday life. Could the bug imagery be not only about the evil and darkness bugs can represent, but also be about their insignificance and meaninglessness? Perhaps frank is bitter because he, like those beetles in the grass, spends the days of his short life crawling around performing mundane, unfulfilling tasks. His failure to discover meaning and beauty in life leads to his anger and violence. In contrast, Jeff and Sandy are more like the robins, perhaps equally small, but spending their lives focused on the positive aspects of life (flying freely) rather than dwelling on its dark parts. I’m not really sure, but the movie definitely grew on me in a big way, I’m actually more interested in seeing it a third time than I thought I would be.

No comments:

Post a Comment