Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hunter Stone - Blog #4

Blue Velvet Opening Sequence Analysis

The editing of the opening sequence of Blue Velvet dramatically contributed to the storytelling and feel of the film. The sequence of shots, music, sound effects, color, composition, and camera movement all come together to set up the theme: a perfect, cookie-cutter small town with unimaginable darkness and evil lurking beneath its sugary coating.

The sequence opens with the sounds of birds chirping and the song from the '50s, "Blue Velvet," playing over the image of a bright blue sky. The camera's slow descent as it tilts downward foreshadows the town's dual identity. However, the series of images that follow reinforce the mood of a utopian world: the white picket fence and bright red roses, the old-fashioned fire truck with waving fireman and his dog, schoolchildren crossing the road, the man watering his garden, and the woman sitting drinking tea while watching television.

And yet, the viewer knows all is not as it seems. The music paired with the images, especially the fireman waving robotically, reveals that the town is too perfect, to the point where it's creepy. This tension is increased when the image of the gun appears on the television screen and the music is cut into by the sound of the pressure building in the hose. From here, the tension grows until it's almost unbearable for the viewer.

The man struggles with the hose and we see it getting twisted. The sound of the water pressure grows louder and is supplemented by an unidentifiable sound that can only be described as impending doom. We see the man grab his neck and fall to the ground, landing in a puddle of mud, apparently dying of a heart attack. The water continues to spray from the hose in a perfect arc, and a close-up of it makes it appear as though it's simply a sprinkler. A diapered baby walks towards the man, the dog attacks the spray of water, barking viciously.

It then cuts to an extreme close-up of the grass, with the camera literally buried in it. This, combined with the foreboding ambient sound which now completely overtakes the sound of the music, evokes a sense of death. The very slow pan of the camera through the grass adds to this suspense. We are finally  left with the lingering sound of what sounds like worms devouring flesh and the image of dark black beetles climbing over each other, so close-up that it feels as though they're literally on top of the viewer.

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