Lumberton itself is not only ambiguous in location, but also time. The buildings and cars all look like they belong in the 1950s, while the people themselves appear to belong in the 1980s. This clean and wholesome backdrop forms a stark backdrop to the violence and depravity; as TimeOut notes "a visually stunning, convincingly coherent portrait of a nightmarish substratum to conventional, respectable society. The seamless blending of beauty and horror is remarkable...the terror very real" (Time Out, 1986)
The set design is very carefully considered, with the apartment where Jeffery first encounters the dark side of the town decorated in dark red, dimly lit to accentuate the shadows. Several shots end with a focus on a blowing curtain, perhaps to help suggest the sense of someone else in the room, observing.
From the opening scene, the film makes great use of music as a counterpoint to the action; pleasant, family-friendly songs for the backdrop to scenes of violence in a way that seems to emphasise the horror.
Much of the success of the film is down to the acting of Dennis Hopper, who plays the violent and sadistic criminal Frank Booth in a highly convincing manner. "In a film of extreme characters and daring performances, no-one is wilder than Frank, no characterisation more "out there" than that delivered by Dennis Hopper...He is a terrifying individual, perverse and brutal, with the attention span and tantrum capacity of a small child" (Fraser, 2006)
Unlike some of Lynch's later works, Blue Velvet is a film that "(marries)...his nightmarish concerns to a story that (very nearly) makes sense, and the result is a movie that brought the clammy terrors of this avant-garde film maker kicking and screaming into the mainstream" (Russel, 2001), and it is this combination of social commentary and engaging plot that help keep the audience riveted to the screen no matter how unpleasant the action becomes.
List of Illustrations
Figure 1. De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (Org) (1986) Blue Velvet Theatrical Poster [Digital Image] At: http://uk.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/28/A70-14372 (Accessed on 20/01/2011)
Figure 2. De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (Org) (1986) Blue Velvet [Film Still] At:http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/020603/142218__blue_l.jpg (Accessed on 20/01/2011)
Fraser, Rob (2006) Blue Velvet (18) In: Empire Magazine [Online] At: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/ReviewComplete.asp?FID=16486&page=2 (Accessed on 20/01/2011)
Russel, Jamie (2001) Blue Velvet (1986) In: bbc.co.uk [Online] At: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/12/05/blue_velvet_1986_review.shtml (Accessed on 20/01/2011)
TimeOut Staff (1986) Blue Velvet (1986) In: TimeOut London [Online] At: http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/68161/blue_velvet.html (Accessed on 20/01/2011)