The Story (continued)
Blue Velvet (1986)
On the Beaumont front lawn, Jeffrey waters the flowers and bushes as his father had done earlier. In his father's hospital room, he visits with his father, accompanied by his mother and Aunt Barbara. On Friday evening, a blue-revolving police light is atop a police car parked in front of the Williams' home as Jeffrey pulls his convertible up in front of Sandy's house to pick her up for a romantic date.
Inside their living room, Detective Williams is arranging some papers in his briefcase. Just then, the man from the police car comes up to the door and enters the house, calling for the detective. Jeffrey turns and sees Detective Gordon, the 'Yellow Man.' Positioning himself between Gordon and Jeffrey, Williams looks Jeffrey straight in the eye, warning him to be calm:
Easy does it Jeffrey. Behave yourself. Don't blow it.
Jeffrey, sensing that the whole town of Lumberton is rotten, disguises what Sandy's father told him, telling Sandy it was just "a little fatherly advice."
In a world totally at odds with what Jeffrey has been experiencing, he and Sandy join a group of clean-cut teenagers at a party in a downstairs wood-paneled basement rec room that is crowded with kids. Entering holding hands, Sandy goes over to her girlfriends and tells them that she has a new boyfriend. When the music turns slow, Jeffrey asks Sandy to dance, and they are soon in each other's arms, kissing and dancing to the organ-accompanied love song: "Mysteries of Love" (sung by Julee Cruise). After looking into each other's eyes, they move close together and give each other a long and slow, exciting kiss. When they finally break, they admit their love for each other:
Sandy: I love you, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey: I love you too.
Mysteries of Love
Sometimes a wind blows
And you and I
Float in love
And kiss forever
In a darkness
And the mysteries of Love come clear
And dance in light
In you, in me
And show that we are Love.
Sometimes a wind blows
And the mysteries of Love come clear.
They playfully kiss each other again and again for the rest of the song. On their drive home, a car's headlights appear behind them, and the car's driver threatens to ram them. At first after looking in his rear-view window, Jeffrey thinks he is being battered by Frank, and he races to get away. The car swerves in front of them, forcing them to pull over in front of his house as Sandy realizes the driver is her former football player / boyfriend Mike, accompanied by his beer-drinking pals. As Jeffrey is being bullied by Mike for stealing his girlfriend, they both notice a naked, battered, bruised, and catatonic woman - Dorothy - waiting for Jeffrey on the Beaumont porch and wandering out onto the lawn. Mike's joking question: "Who is that?...Is that your mother, Jeffrey?" is inappropriately adolescent and unfunny.
Jeffrey realizes who it is and runs toward her. He lets her wrap her arms around him, and then helps her as she staggers into their car. She sits sandwiched in the front seat between Sandy and Jeffrey. Drunk and feeling silly, Mike apologizes to Jeffrey. Incoherent and dazed, Dorothy looks over at Jeffrey and recognizes him, while Sandy looks at him with a questioning, confused gaze:
Dorothy: Is that you Jeffrey?
Jeffrey: Yeah, it's me.
Dorothy: Jeffrey, Jeffrey.
Emotionally disturbed, Dorothy is taken to the Williams' house. Sandy calls out like she does normally: "Dad, Mom." But in the living room, she asks her shocked mother to call for her dad and get an ambulance. A bit crazed, hysterical and still naked, Dorothy clings to Jeffrey and cries out, humiliating him in front of his girlfriend who witnesses the spectacle:
Dorothy: Oh God, they hurt him. Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey. Hold me. Hold me. Hold me. Oh God. My secret love. (Jeffrey looks over at Sandy.)
Mrs. Williams: I called for an ambulance and the police are on their way.
Dorothy (screaming): Don't get the police. STOP IT. I LOVE YOU. LOVE ME. (Sandy reacts with hurt and horror as Dorothy presses herself tightly against Jeffrey.) He put his disease in me. Tell me it's all right. I opened myself to you. Tell me it's all right, all right.
Jeffrey (to Sandy): Sandy...please. Sandy.
Mrs. Williams: I'll get a coat to put on her.
Sandy (crying): Jeffrey, what's going on here?
Jeffrey: I'll tell you.
Dorothy: They have hurt his head.
Jeffrey: Who, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Don. Help him. Help him. Promise me you'll HELP HIM. (Mrs. Williams brings a coat which Jeffrey drapes over Dorothy's bare back.) He put his disease in me.
Sandy is terribly pained and distraught by the sordid, distasteful accusation, hurt in learning that Jeffrey had a sexual relationship with the nightclub singer. An ambulance siren drowns out the scene, as a bright-red ambulance pulls up in front of the house. Dorothy is strapped on a stretcher by paramedics and taken to the waiting ambulance, and Jeffrey has a few words with Sandy who is distressed by his unfaithfulness:
Jeffrey: I should go.
Jeffrey: ...Sandy? (She slaps him in the face.)
In the rescue ambulance, Dorothy is masked Frank Booth-like, and as they drive away, she bolts up screaming and yelling: "Hold me. I'M FALLING. I'M FALLING. Hold me." In a mirror's reflection, in Sandy's bedroom decorated with red hearts, cream-colored walls and a picture of 50s actor Montgomery Clift, Sandy speaks on the phone to Jeffrey, forgiving him when he admits his dishonesty:
Sandy: You lied to me.
Jeffrey: Sandy please. Forgive me. I love you.
Sandy: I forgive you Jeffrey. I loved you. I love you. And I, I couldn't watch that. Is she OK?
Jeffrey: Yeah, she's OK. Listen, get ahold of your father. Tell him to send the police over to Dorothy's apartment right away. Tell him to hurry. I'm leaving right now.
Sandy: Jeffrey don't.
Jeffrey: I have to. I love you.
Sandy: Oh god. Be careful.
Jeffrey: I will, believe me.
Sandy (after hanging up): It hurts my dream.
Delivered in a yellow City Taxi, Jeffrey arrives in front of Dorothy's Deep River Apartment building and moves up to the front doors to search one more time for clues. Frantic and worried, Sandy calls the police station from her father's study, attempting to locate her father. Jeffrey climbs the dark stairway to the hallway outside #710. Cautiously, he opens the door with his key, enters the living room, and then jumps back after seeing something. Inside Dorothy's pink-walled apartment, he finds the hideous sight of two gruesome murders, seemingly suspended in time and artfully displayed: Detective Gordon (the 'Yellow Man') is propped up, standing listlessly on his feet in the center of the room with a blood stain on the floor in front of him, and another man is seated on one of Dorothy's chairs with his hands tied and mouth gagged.
Moving closer, he notices that the TV is crushed in but turned on, emitting a high electrical whining noise. The corrupt detective has a bloody gunshot hole in his head, with blood covering his shirt - he is still twitching. The man in the chair is also dead - it is Don (Dick Green), Dorothy's husband. He has no left ear, a gunshot wound in the middle of his head, and his mouth is gagged with a piece of Dorothy's blue velvet robe.
Jeffrey is startled when a live police radio in the Detective's yellow right jacket pocket speaks out ("Get back and stay down"), causing the Yellow Man to throw his left arm out wildly, knocking a floor lamp over. Jeffrey's heart leaps a beat, but everything turns silent until the radio talks again:
Radio Voice: It's Frank Booth. Apartment twenty-six.
Radio Voice: Lieutenant. We're at Frank's place now. The raid has commenced as scheduled.
A police raid led by Detective Williams assaults Frank's apartment building, while the popular song "Love Letters Straight From Your Heart" (performed by Ketty Lester) begins to play - a deadly "love letter" message straight from Frank. Outside Frank's building, police cars line the street - there are barrages of gunfire from inside and outside, breaking glass, dead policemen lying on the pavement. Inside, Jeffrey listens to the radio exchanges and stares at the two murdered victims, vowing: "I'm gonna let them find you on their own."
When Jeffrey leaves and closes the door shut, the music abruptly stops, replaced by the howling sound from the ear. He stops, pauses, looks back, and then starts down the dark stairs, noticing through the window on one of the landings that the "well-dressed man" (seen a few times in flashback in Jeffrey's mind) approaches Dorothy's building with his alligator briefcase. As Jeffrey quietly but quickly backs up the stairs, the well-dressed man (with a false moustache and wig) carries a police radio. Horrified when he is spotted, Jeffrey realizes that the well-dressed man is Frank in disguise.
Jeffrey rushes back up to Dorothy's apartment, fumbles with the keys, frantically opens the door, takes the police radio out of the detective's yellow pocket, and runs into the back bedroom of the apartment. Crouching by the bed, he calls the police by radio for help:
Jeffrey (into the radio): Williams! Detective Williams.
Detective Williams (over radio): Detective Williams here. Is that you Jeffrey?
Jeffrey: Yeah it's me. Listen, I'm hiding in Dorothy Vallens' apartment. Frank is on his way up here in a 'well-dressed man' disguise. I've got no way out of here.
Suddenly, he drops the radio on the bed, realizing that Frank has bugged his call by being tuned in to the police radio frequency - and now knows where he is! Jeffrey fears: "He's gonna be here." Sandy runs frantically down a dark street toward Lincoln, calling out Jeffrey's name. Jeffrey devises a decoy plan - he picks up the radio and sets Frank up:
Jeffrey (into the radio): Detective Williams. I'm hiding in the back bedroom. Please hurry.
He places the radio under the bed and runs back into the living room to hide in the closet where he originally eavesdropped on Dorothy and Frank. Now he will hopefully destroy Frank rather than engage in passive voyeurism. Frank breaks into the apartment door and calls toward the back bedroom, while removing his disguise and reaching inside his coat for his gun with a silencer attached:
Hey, neighbor! You s--t for brains, man. You forgot I have a police radio. One well-dressed f--kin' man knows where your f--kin' cute little butt's hidin', huh. You stupid f--k. F--k with me, man. (Frank snatches the blue velvet sash from Don's mouth.) Here I come! Ready or not! (The police radio planted under the bed begins broadcasting.) You f--k. I can hear your f--kin' radio, you stupid s--t. You've got about one f--kin' second to live, buddy. You're a sorry piece of shit, mister. (Frank approaches the back bedroom, and inhales gas before entering and shooting four times.) Hey pretty, pretty.
Jeffrey has an idea - he quickly leaves the closet and reaches inside the Yellow Man's coat pocket, finding his police gun. He races back into the closet, as Frank furiously storms out of the bedroom, screaming: "What the f--k. Where are you? Where are you?" Frank returns down the hallway into the living room (with Dorothy's blue velvet robe draped over his arm), silences the TV with one shot, blasts the Yellow Man (causing him to fall over), and then searches the kitchen. He looks at the closet, smiles, and then inhales more gas as he moves in for the kill, while Jeffrey readies his gun behind the slatted closet door.
In a climactically violent moment, Frank throws open the closet door, and sees Jeffrey's gun aimed at him. To annihilate the monstrous dark side of his own self that has been contaminated by exposure, Jeffrey blasts a hole between Frank's eyes, as Sandy screams at the door of the apartment and hears the shot at the same instant. Gun drawn, Detective Williams also rushes in, telling him: "It's all over Jeffrey." The electrical lights fuse and burn out, organ music plays, and police cars surround the Deep River Apartments.
Oblivious to their surroundings, Sandy and Jeffrey - the heroine and hero kiss and hug in the hallway - a bright light turns to complete whiteness, and the camera then dissolves into a close-up of a human ear - it is Jeffrey's ear. The camera slowly travels and rises out of the ear's canal and crevices, moving across Jeffrey's cheek to his eye.
[The entry out of his normal, clean ear signals the end of Jeffrey's dream-like journey that started at the beginning of the film.]
The town of Lumberton returns to innocence and normality, freed from the destructive power of evil, darkness, and hate. In the bright light of the sun, Jeffrey lies peacefully on a chaise lounge chair in his own backyard, awakening to a springtime setting - the same scene with which the film began. A fat robin is perched in a tree above him. Sandy calls out from the back porch of the house: "Jeffrey, lunch is ready," and the scene is accompanied by the love song, "The Mysteries of Love."
After getting up from his lawn chair, he calls out a greeting to his recovered father and Detective Williams, both in the garden in the distance. In the kitchen, Aunt Barbara points out to Sandy that a purposely phony-looking robin (with a big black bug in its mouth) is sitting on the window ledge. Mrs. Williams and Jeffrey's mother are in the living room talking on the sofa. The conclusion highlights nostalgic Americana once again - peaceful organ music, romance with a golden-haired girl rather than a dark-evil beauty, the destruction of an archetypal evil force, bright sunshine, an optimistic future, friendly conversations between neighbors, united families - the false comforts of the nostalgic 50s past are symbolized by the return of the robins, bringing Sandy's dream to fulfillment - the Blinding Light of Love:
Sandy: Look. (She points toward the robin on the kitchen's window ledge, as Jeffrey joins Aunt Barbara and Sandy.)
Jeffrey: Yeah, I saw him outside. Maybe the robins are here.
Aunt Barbara: I don't see how they could do that. I could never eat a bug. (Ironically, she places a piece of beef into her mouth)
Sandy (looking at Jeffrey and smiling): It's a strange world, isn't it? (Jeffrey nods in agreement.)
The idealistic ending of the film neatly replicates and parallels the pleasurable beginning images of the film, symmetrically folding in upon itself with a bookend effect. Earlier images play in reverse order.
- Yellow tulips sway in the warm afternoon breeze before a white picket fence.
- A red fire truck moves slowly down the street, a fireman waves.
- Red tulips are contrasted against the white fence.
- Little Donny is reunited with his mother who has also been freed from the grip of evil. He plays in a park - identified by the propeller hat on his head, as he soars with arms outstretched toward Dorothy seated on a park bench. She laughs at her son and hugs him lovingly, now free from captivity.
As she cradles her son in her arms, tears form in her eyes and she is heard singing in the background:
And I still can see Blue Velvet through my tears.
The camera pans upward and loses focus as it fills the screen with blue sky, and then dissolves into undulating blue velvet fabric. The questions remain - have all the horrors underlying life been vanquished forever? How real is the coming of love and harmony in the world, signaled by the return of the robins?
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AMC Filmcritic's Review of Blue Velvet