Blue Velvet by David Lynch

This intro sets the stage for where things started and where they end up all in a mere 25 cuts and 19 setups.

This scene uses three non-diegetic tunes plus diegetic sound effects, foley, hard effects, ambience, and two instances of theatrical dialogue.

The editor starts off by spending more time than usual on the sweet imagery of flowers, sweeping down them, then off to the classically perfect-too perfect-fire-truck-that-never-reallydoes-this, passing by.

This sets the stage for the surreal flavor of the film. The pacing continues to be sickening sweetly slow. The music is accompanied by the atmospheric sound of birds and seems flowery perfect as if the singer is speaking about a happy woman in a sweet blue velvet dress, as the title of the movie is brought to our attention through the song that creates an image composed of assumptions in our minds.

Then we see more flowers, and school children. But strangely, the traffic attendant looks a little flat as the fade into the man watering the lawn happens. The editor, Duwayne Dunham, was likely dealing a few logistical issues die to budget. I see this with the cuts at the end and especially with the final cut into the beetles devouring something.

The music and ambience continues throughout the scene to be the most prominent sounds. The slow pace and sweet imagery has the effect of perfection and happiness, almost too much so. It makes us feel like this film can go one of two ways, it can stay sweet or it can diverge. Once the man watering the yard is introduced, we hear more diegetic sound creeping in with the water hose making us more aware of reality.

Then we see his wife inside a darkened room sipping from a coffee cup, in her peaceful life, watching someone wielding a gun on tv. Inside, we only hear the song, but when we return to the man outside the atmosphere joins back up with the song again. We seem to think this is his wife and know that she likes to watch dark subject matter which speaks to a darkness inside of her.

We then go back to the man outside. Now if he had just gone over there to loosen the hose instead of jerking it like he did… Well, here the editing speeds up back and forth to the hose and then back to the man watering, then the kink and the hose and back to the man watering. A false tension is created with quick editing gearing the audience for some final interaction between the man and the hose.

All the while the first song is playing but the diegetic sound of the water spray and destabilized faucet is creeping through more and more and I do believe the tune is turned down a wee bit. A hard effect is added to magnify the sound of the faucet becoming unstable. Foley hose water spraying is added as well to account for the persistent of sound even as we get further from the man. These sound effects further bring us out of the fog of perfection, hinting that this film will diverge from the sweetness into something darker, how dark, we do not yet know.

The quickened pace of this edit has taken us from a lulled feeling to anticipation. It turns out the hose is not the cause of the event or climax of the situation.

Instead the man suffers a stroke. One of life’s dark unfortunate coincidences is exposed through the play with causality the editor makes happen by building tension with an unrelated sequence of events. The edit slows down letting us see the man fall; the dog lick the water; the baby walk toward the man; all beautiful imagery.

There is no dialogue, apart from the man’s moan of pain as he is having a stroke and the dog’s barking. These voices are theatrical. Hearing the man in pain, then the dog happily barking in the same setting further presses the point about how dark things can reside next to seemingly happy ones.

The slower edit allows the audience to feel like they are on steady ground again and allows them to absorb the essence of what is or has just happened in the film so far. Then the editor takes us into the grass where the sound changes and we hear a hard effect something like the jungle with knives as blades of grass sharpening as we pass them on our way to the underbelly.

The dark underbelly of our existence, the underside of what we walk on, the stuff of the night, of the dirty and dark; beetles wrestling over food. Like the side of humans we try to sweep under the carpet but just can’t keep totally hidden. Before we get to the beetles the soundscape changes, a second tune is introduced and the title track disappears.

The second tune is eerie. Then we hear beetles diegetic sound, possibly hard effect added in, with the eerie tune low in the background. We end with a third tune once the final image of the billboard appears. However, it is just the music we hear.

This edit uses slow pacing to show a surreal perfect lovely peaceful existence, then uses fast pacing to build tension, then slows again to ease us into the life of the film. All the while there are opposing images placed next to one another to give us insight into the inner darkness of the characters in the film. Based on this edit, this film is clearly going to be dealing with the underside of humanity.

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