J. G. Ballard on Blue Velvet

British author reflects on the quintessential American surrealist film
David Lynch, 'Blue Velvet' (1986)

British author J. G. Ballard on David Lynch's Blue Velvet (originally published in Time Out in 1993):
Blue Velvet is, for me, the best film of the 1980s - surreal, voyeuristic, subversive and even a little corrupt in its manipulation of the audience. In short, the perfect dish for the jaded palates of the 1990s. But a thicket of puzzles remains. First, why do the sensible young couple, played by Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern, scheme to break into the apartment of the brutalized nightclub singer (Isabella Rossellini) and risk involving themselves with the psychopathic gangster - Dennis Hopper in his most terrifying screen performance?


The second puzzle is the role of the severed ear found by the young man after he visits his father in hospital, and which sets off the entire drama. Why an ear rather than a hand or a set of fingerprints? I take it that the ear is really his own, tuned to the inner voice that informs him of his imminent quest for his true mother and father. Like the ear, the white picket fence and the mechanical bird that heralds a return to morality, Blue Velvet is a sustained and brutal tease, The Wizard of Oz re-shot with a script by Kafka and decor by Francis Bacon. More, more...

J. G. Ballard, 'Blue Velvet'
in J. G. Ballard, A User's Guide to the Millenium: Essays and Reviews
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