Blue Velvet is by all means a cultural landmark of sorts. At its best moments, it manages to bring to the screen that flickering inner space we call sub-conscience, filled with the fermentation of life’s two engines, sex and death. It is the genesis, the trial grounds for David Lynch’s later works. It is blatantly silly in some other aspects, as its caricatural portray of small American town and the characters inhabiting it. But boy, the moments where it plunges are breathtaking - that is all the scenes involving Isabella Rossellini and Dennis Hopper.
American writer David Foster Wallace spoke numerous times about Lynch and his art. Here’s a quote:
You almost never from a Lynch movie get the sense that the point is to “entertain” you, and never that the point is to get you to fork over money to see it. This is one of the unsettling things about a Lynch movie: You don’t feel like you’re entering into any of the standard unspoken and/or unconscious contracts you normally enter into with other kinds of movies. This is unsettling because in the absence of such an unconscious contract we lose some of the psychic protections we normally (and necessarily) bring to bear on a medium as powerful as film. That is, if we know on some level what a movie wants from us, we can erect certain internal defenses that let us choose how much of ourselves we give away to it. The absence of point or recognizable agenda in Lynch’s films, though, strips these subliminal defenses and lets Lynch get inside your head in a way movies normally don’t. This is why his best films’ effects are often so emotional and nightmarish. (We’re defenseless in our dreams too.)
This may in fact be Lynch’s true and only agenda - just to get inside your head. He seems to care more about penetrating your head than about what he does once he’s in there. Is this good art? It’s hard to say. It seems - once again - either ingenuous or psychopathic. It sure is different, anyway.