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Something is rotten in Blue Velvet ... an exploration of David Lynch's Blue Velvet via Shakespeare's Hamlet.

This article explores David Lynch's controversial 1986 film Blue Velvet, through its unexpected parallels with Shakespeare's Hamlet. The article lays out the narrative and symbolic parallels between the two texts, including their plot similarities, the Oedipal dramas inherent to each, their remarkably similar use of imagery and their respective use of the madonna/whore dichotomy in their treatment of women. The striking parallels between the film and Shakespeare's tragedy are used to elaborate on the existing reception of the film, to support the argument that the film's conclusion is a parodic, rather than happy, ending.


Philip Kerr, in his review of David Lynch's Blue Velvet, comments: 'Shakespeare would have loved this film. Blue Velvet is nothing less than the cinematic proof of Hamlet's remark that "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."' (1) However, Kerr fails to go further in recognising the strange applicability of Hamlet, thought to have been written in 1600-1601, to Lynch's 1986 movie. While reading Lynch through Shakespeare may seem an unexpected and bizarre strategy, the numerous narrative and thematic similarities between the two texts serve to illuminate Blue Velvet's exploration of the dark side of human life and relationships, particularly with regard to the film's conclusion, and offer a counterpoint to, and elaboration of, the film's existing critical reception. Furthermore, Lynch's engagement with Hamlet forces the viewer to reconsider the latent Oedipal drama within Shakespeare's play, so that Hamlet and Blue Velvet become mutually illuminating.

Shakespeare's play tells the story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, whose father's ghost informs him that his uncle, who has since married Hamlet's mother, poisoned him. Hamlet promises to avenge his father's death and eventually does, but his love Ophelia is driven to madness and drowns, and the play ends with the deaths of Hamlet and his mother, among others. Lynch's film recounts the story of Jeffrey Beaumont, whose father's heart attack brings him back his home town of Lumberton, where he discovers a severed ear. His own investigation, with the help of his girlfriend Sandy, leads him to find that the ear belongs to the husband of nightclub-singer Dorothy. Dorothy's husband and son were kidnapped by the psychotic Frank to force her to submit to his brutal sexual perversions. Jeffrey also sleeps with Dorothy, and beats her, but eventually succeeds in killing Frank and resumes a life of apparently blissful normality in the suburbs with Sandy and his family.

Various critics have identified similarities between Blue Velvet and existing texts, from Dante's Inferno (2) to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. (3) James Lindroth, in his mapping of the parallels between Blue Velvet and The Wizard of Oz, comments on 'the game of source recognition that Lynch plays with his audience'. (4) Lindroth claims that part of Blue Velvet 's ability to shock lies in the way it forces a reconfiguration of the source text (when Blue Velvet is viewed in relation to Oz, for instance, we see 'Garland's innocent Dorothy transformed into whore'). (5) This paper establishes the strong similarities between Blue Velvet and Hamlet, in order to explore ways in which the film's similarities to (and differences from) Hamlet can force a reconfiguration of characters and events within the film, as well as within the play, through providing an added layer of intertextual resonance.

It is necessary to establish the many striking parallels between these two texts, on both narrative and symbolic levels, before exploring the ways in which they can illuminate each other. Hamlet is home from university at Wittenberg because of the sudden death of his father; Lynch's Jeffrey is home from university because of his father's sudden collapse. While Jeffrey's father is still alive, he is symbolically dead, unable to communicate and completely absent as a significant figure throughout the film. In both texts this initial return of the hero prefigures a journey to discover the dark secrets of their homes, a journey that is also inaugurated by the violated ear.

In both Hamlet and Blue Velvet, the young hero's investigation leads him to expose the duality of his world. Lynch describes Blue Velvet as 'about a guy who lives in two worlds at the same time, one of which is pleasant and the other dark and terrifying.' (6) This focus on duality, characteristic of Lynch's work, is also reflected in Hamlet. In a description equally applicable to Jeffrey, Hamlet has been described by Wolfgang Clemen as 'a man gifted with greater powers of observation than the others. He is capable of scanning reality with a keener eye and of penetrating the veil of semblance even to the very core of things.' (7) Jeffrey and Hamlet are able to reveal the dark truth behind the apparently banal surface of their homes. Jeffrey's discovery of the severed ear is testament to Hamlet's statement that 'foul deeds will rise / Though all the earth o'erwhelm them to men's eyes.' (8) Similarly, Hamlet's observation 'That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain' (9) resonates with the depiction of Blue Velvet's villain Frank. The unpredictable Frank, particularly in the scene where he takes Jeffrey for a ride, epitomises Hamlet's 'smiling damned villain'. (10) As Martha Nochimson observes, Frank 'burlesques the reassuring gestures of the "good Joe"'. (11)

Crucially, both Hamlet and Jeffrey gain the insight needed to uncover the truth from visions or supernatural sources connected with their fathers. For Hamlet, famously, it is the ghost who confirms his suspicions about Claudius. For Jeffrey, a series of strange dream visions offer what Nochimson calls his 'process of enlightenment'. (12) In one of Jeffrey's visions, his father (unable to speak since his collapse) tells him to help Dorothy, a parallel to the ghost's injunction to Hamlet to end Gertrude's incest and not to punish her. For both heroes, enlightenment is to be found outside the ordinary, logical world.

One of the most striking similarities between the texts lies in their treatment of the two principal female characters; in both texts, the hero's engagement with the intrigue of the sexualised mother figure leads him to a betrayal of the young virgin. There is an uncanny pairing in the depiction and treatment of Gertrude and Dorothy, and Ophelia and Sandy. Both Hamlet and Blue Velvet feature the familiar categorisation of women according to the madonna/whore dichotomy. As Harry Levin observes of Hamlet's Gertrude and Ophelia, 'the two heroines are depicted in opposition to one another, adultery and virginity, the faithless mother and wife versus the faithful daughter and sister.' (13) Lynch's film presents us with the same model, with the dark (and darkly lit) Dorothy, highly sexualised, with her own perverse desires, and Sandy, blonde and sweet, whose relationship with Jeffrey seems completely asexual. As Norman Denzin observes, 'Sandy's pure sexuality is contrasted to Dorothy's decadence and her sick desire to be abused.' (14) It is also worth noting that Sandy's main speech in Blue Velvet, describing a dream in which robins arrive to bring love and joy to 'a world pervaded with darkness' (15) directly evokes her Shakespearean counterpart, Ophelia, who sings: 'For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.' (16)

Both texts also display significant misogyny. Hamlet complains that 'frailty, thy name is woman', (17) abuses the blameless Ophelia, and rails against his mother: 'O most pernicious woman!' (18) Similarly, Lynch's film has often been criticised for its treatment of Dorothy, who is repeatedly abused and exposed. As Denzin notes, 'Dorothy's degradation is used as a vehicle for Jeffrey's sexual education.' (19) Furthermore, Jane Shattuc observes that the film's misogyny occurs on both narrative and visual levels, noting the repeated and invasive use of close-up in shots of Sandy and Dorothy who, '[i]n their masochistic passivity [...] are filmed as a set of ongoing visual cliches.' (20)

In another parallel, Hamlet's young hero repeatedly uses his enemy's own devices against them, sending Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to their deaths with the death warrant meant for him, and poisoning both Laertes and Claudius with the poison they intended for him. As Hamlet states, ''tis the sport to have the engineer / Hoist with his own petard'; (21) and when he is dying Laertes acknowledges that 'I am justly killed with mine own treachery.' (22) Similarly, Jeffrey ultimately uses Frank's own devices (his illicit possession of a police radio) to trick him and, ultimately, kill him. It is also worth noting that Frank's drug addiction, foregrounded in Blue Velvet, is reminiscent of Claudius's own intemperance. As Harry Levin observes, 'Claudius himself is a hard drinker, much to the disdain of his temperate nephew.' (23)

The significance of the ear is paramount to both texts. As Kenneth Kaleta observes of Blue Velvet, 'the film centers on the finding of an ear and presents its story from within that ear as we follow the camera into a universe of sound.' (24) The rotting, severed ear, he writes, 'will become a symbol for what is beyond understanding and for the pursued secret.' (25) Early in the film, Lynch's camera leads the viewer literally through the severed ear, emerging again out of Jeffrey's own, immaculate ear for the film's implausibly happy conclusion. The significance of the ear, so integral to Blue Velvet, is reflected in Hamlet. The ghost's vivid description of his poisoning focuses on the ear:
 thy uncle stole
 With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
 And in the porches of my ears did pour
 The leperous distilment, whose effect
 Holds such an enmity wi' th' blood of man. (26)

Ears feature many other times during the play, which is preoccupied with eavesdropping and disclosure. In fact, Kaleta's description of Blue Velvet as being 'about hearing and listening, appetites and conventions' (27) could just as aptly be applied to Hamlet. The ghost bemoans not only his murder, but also the fact that all of Denmark has been deceived about the manner of his death: 'the whole ear of Denmark / Is by a forged process of my death / Rankly abused.' (28) Later, Polonius, planning to eavesdrop on Gertrude and Hamlet, crows that he will be placed 'in the ear / Of all their conference'. (29) Barnardo entreats Horatio and Marcellus to let him 'once again assail your ears' with the story of the ghost, (30) and Hamlet warns Horatio that 'I have words to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb.' (31) Most powerfully, however, when Hamlet attacks Gertrude with a comparison between his dead father and his murderous uncle Claudius, he states: 'Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear / Blasting his wholesome brother.' (32) The ear in Hamlet is thus linked to decay, horror and to the nefarious villain, just as in Blue Velvet.

In addition to these narrative parallels, the texts feature a remarkably similar use of imagery. Lynch's film first introduces the unsettling sense of the dark underbelly of its seemingly idyllic world through a disturbing extreme-close-up of the grass and weeds of Jeffrey's garden, complete with insects. This imagery is subsequently repeated with his discovery of the rotting, severed ear in long grass. This characteristically Lynchian preoccupation with weeds, disease and decay resonates strongly with the imagery in Hamlet. As Wolfgang Clemen observes, the ghost's vivid and visceral description of his poisoning, linking the ear with decay and disease, influences the subsequent imagery used by Hamlet. (33) Shakespeare's play is suffused with imagery of decay, disease and weeds. Shakespearian scholar Caroline Spurgeon identifies a focus on ulcers, decay and disease, (34) thematic preoccupations familiar to viewers of Lynch's films. Hamlet describes Gertrude's incestuous behaviour as 'the ulcerous place, / Whilst rank corruption, mining all within / Infects unseen.' (35) In Blue Velvet, the mother-figure's transgressive sexuality is depicted in similar imagery, when Dorothy announces to Sandy that Jeffrey 'put his disease in me'.

As in Blue Velvet, this imagery of corruption and decay is often linked to weeds. The ghost warns Hamlet that if he fails to act, 'duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed / That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf.' (36) Just as Jeffrey's journey down into the weeds of Lumberton is a journey of disillusionment, a disillusioned Hamlet describes the world as 'an unweeded garden / That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely.' (37) He later warns Gertrude to stop sleeping with Claudius, telling her: 'do not spread the compost o'er the weeds / To make them ranker.' (38) Kaleta writes of Blue Velvet that '[i]n the first moments of the film, we recognise and fear the combination of bloom, death, and decay.' (39) It is just such a combination that suffuses Hamlet.

Both texts are inherently self-reflexive. The famous play-within-the-play in Hamlet is reflected at a number of points in Blue Velvet which, like all of Lynch's films, is preoccupied with staging, theatre, and film as construct. The exaggerated spectacle of American suburbia at the film's opening and close, the endless shots of curtains (including the opening credits), Dorothy's job as a singer, and the lip-synching singing performances of Ben and Frank, all draw attention to the constructed nature of the text. Kaleta observes this self-reflexivity when he discusses the noir films which Jeffrey's aunt and mother are constantly watching: 'Lynch includes another level of illusion within his virtual world: the audience watches actors watching actors [...] Where is reality? Where is illusion?' (40) This mise-en-abyme evokes the most famous example of this technique, Hamlet's play-within-a-play.

In summary, both texts feature a young hero who is led, through the violated ear, to the discovery that the father has been killed by an intemperate villain in order to possess the mother figure. Each text features a virgin, betrayed by the hero, and a whore-like mother figure, depicted with elements of misogyny. Both texts also contain betrayal by trusted figures, an Oedipal preoccupation, and conspicuous symbolism of weeds and decay. The heroes are each enlightened by a vision from beyond the realm of reason involving an injunction by their father, and each kills the villain by turning his own devices against him, but not before being disillusioned by the exposure of the dark underbelly of his world.

Of all the parallels between the two texts, the Oedipal drama is perhaps the most explicit. Hamlet discovers that Claudius has killed the father in order to possess the mother, just as, in Blue Velvet, Frank kills Dorothy's husband, Don, in order to possess Dorothy. As Michel Chion notes, by pushing Jeffrey's real parents to the periphery of the story, Lynch can 'allow the fantasy parents Dorothy and Frank to emerge from the shadows and play out their primal scene before his eyes', (41) most explicitly when Jeffrey hides in Dorothy's closet and witnesses Frank raping her. The explicit nature of Dorothy's maternal role is observed by Tracy Biga, who notes that when a naked, bruised Dorothy appears, 'Sandy's startled boyfriend asks Jeff, "Is that your mother?"' (42)

A significant difference between the texts is that Hamlet does not, of course, actually sleep with his mother, whereas Lynch's Jeffrey embarks on a sexual relationship with his fantasy mother, Dorothy. However, Ernest Jones' enormously influential Oedipal interpretation of Hamlet persuasively argues that Hamlet's delay in killing Claudius is due to his unconscious identification with his uncle, who, by killing the father and possessing the mother, has enacted Hamlet's own guilty childhood fantasy. (43) Jones, a biographer of Freud, elaborated on a footnote to Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, in which Freud writes: 'Hamlet is able to do anything--except take vengeance on the man who did away with his father and took that father's place with his mother, the man who shows him the repressed wishes of his own childhood realised.' (44) Blue Velvet, therefore, simply literalises the Oedipal fantasy that is already present in Hamlet. As Jones writes:
 Hamlet's attitude towards his uncle-father is far more complex
 than is generally supposed. [...] His own 'evil' prevents him from
 completely denouncing his uncle's [...] his moral fate is bound up
 with his uncle's for good or ill. In reality his uncle incorporates
 the deepest and most buried part of his own personality, so that
 he cannot kill him without also killing himself. (45)

In Lynch's film, this similarity between the murderous usurper and the young hero is made explicit through the fact of their shared abusive relationships with Dorothy. Frank even comments on the similarities between himself and Jeffrey, as Barbara Creed notes, telling Jeffrey: 'You're a lot like me.' (46) Frank also sings to Jeffrey that 'in dreams you're mine', and Kaleta observes that 'the context of the song's lyrics stresses how alike Frank and Jeffrey are in their dreams.' (47) Thus Blue Velvet makes manifest the latent Oedipal relationship between the hero and the mother figure, by enacting the hero's incestuous dream.

To substantiate this latent Oedipal desire, it is useful to turn again to Creed's article, the main focus of which is the fluidity of subject positions in fantasy (especially in relation to the primal scene); she argues that the subject positions occupied by Jeffrey, Frank, Dorothy's husband, Don, and her son, Donny, shift regularly between the (symbolic) roles of father, lover and son, and that '[t]he movement between these symbolic places is so varied and complex that the film could be read as a dramatization of the interchangeability of subject positions in relation to the staging of fantasy.' (48) Danielle Knafo and Kenneth Feiner agree, observing that:
 [P]rimal scene fantasies are constituted by multiple
 identifications [...] These identifications involve being in
 several places at once, as both the observer and the observed
 [...] Lynch depicts a primal scene which engages these shifting
 identificatory positions in his protagonists and viewers alike in
 the scene which lies at the centre of Blue Velvet. (49)

This shifting of subject positions, particularly by Frank, who is both father ('Daddy's coming home') and baby ('baby wants blue velvet') has also been noted by Lindroth, (50) Atkinson, (51) and Betsy Berry. (52) The interchangeability of the roles of father, son, and lover that is established so comprehensively in Blue Velvet means that, on the level of fantasy, the absence of a literal consummation of Hamlet's desire for his mother fails to undermine the resonances between Hamlet and Blue Velvet. If anything, Blue Velvet forces a reconsideration of Shakespeare's text, by foregrounding (to an almost parodic extent) the mutability of roles within the Oedipal fantasy, of which Hamlet is one of the classic explorations.

The conspicuousness of the film's Freudian themes (perhaps most glaring in Frank's statement that 'baby wants to fuck') has been noted by Shattuc, who observes that '[a]ny attempt at a serious psychoanalytic study of a film so ironic in its use of sexual excess falls into a classic postmodern trap.' (53) Paul Coughlin observes, of the many psychoanalytic readings of the film, that 'the elements that lead to these readings seem to be laid out so explicitly in the film that they take on the character of being too "obvious".' (54) When the film is considered in relation to Shakespeare's play, however, Blue Velvet's romp through psychoanalytic theory invites a re-examination of Hamlet's Oedipal connotations.

Creed, in her inf luential analysis of Blue Velvet, asserts the centrality of listening to the primal scene, in which 'Freud gives a privileged position to hearing, to the fantasy of listening, as well as to sight.' (55) This suggests that the primacy of the ear in both Hamlet and Blue Velvet, as discussed earlier, gestures towards the importance of the repressed primal scene in both texts. Creed argues that the severed ear of Dorothy's husband 'may signify more than castration. It might also connote the primal scene through the disavowal of the forbidden sounds of copulation.' (56) Lindroth observes a number of incidents of 'cancelled hearing' in the film:
 [t]here is the cancelled hearing of Dorothy's husband, the man
 with the severed ear. There is the cancelled hearing of Jeffrey
 in Dorothy's bathroom, where the flushing water prevents him
 from hearing Sandy's warning signal. There is the cancelled
 hearing of Frank who, failing to detect Jeffrey's presence in
 Dorothy's closet, runs towards Dorothy's bedroom, ironically
 boasting, 'I hear you, fucker!' (57)

While Lindroth links these to the film's theme of powerlessness, Creed's reading suggests that these instances of 'cancelled hearing' could represent further examples of repression of the primal scene. If the trope of hearing in the film can, following Creed, be linked to the primal scene, then these numerous instances of 'cancelled hearing' add to the sense of repressed psychosexual trauma that pervades the film.

This sense is equally pervasive in Hamlet, and is again linked to the trope of hearing. In the scene where Hamlet urges his mother to break off sexual relations with Claudius, the vehemence of his imagery makes clear his disgust at the primal scene that he imagines:
 Nay, but to live
 In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
 Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love
 Over the nasty sty--(58)

The disavowal of this primal scene is displaced on to Gertrude, who interrupts her son: 'O, speak to me no more. / These words like daggers enter in my ears.' (59) Her reluctance to face the trauma is enacted through abrogation of hearing (though her description of how Hamlet's words as 'daggers' in her ears evokes the method of her husband's murder, hinting at a greater complicity than she is capable of admitting).

An analysis of the resonances between the two texts serves to highlight and clarify the Oedipal drama that is so central to both texts. Ernest Jones' inf luential reading of Hamlet (60) implicates the young hero in the villain's dark desires, as does Creed's exploration of the mutability of roles in the primal scene fantasy. Viewing Blue Velvet with these interpretations in mind, it is impossible to separate Jeffrey entirely from Frank, particularly as both end up sleeping with and abusing Dorothy. (61)

This awareness that Jeffrey cannot emerge unscathed from this dark drama supports those who argue that the film's ending is far from happy. Blue Velvet, unlike Hamlet, concludes with the hero alive, in the bosom of his family, his virginal girlfriend at his side. Kaleta announces that 'here is the happy ending' (62) and describes the conclusion as 'an almost-Shakespearean restoration of order'. (63) Evidently he is talking about Shakespeare's comedies, not the tragedies like Hamlet. However, this statement reveals a misreading of Lynch's film, as does Chion's statement that Lynch allows Jeffrey to recover the 'normal world' at the end of the film, (64) despite the violence and horror that he has witnessed. Lynch's idyllic suburbia is far from normal--as Nochimson has noted, it is so hyperbolic that it is entirely spectacle. (65) When the smiling fireman on the bright red truck drives by, waving, for the second time, and a blatantly mechanical robin chirps on a tree, it is not a restitution of the original order (which was equally caricatured), but an exposure of its impossible falseness. The striking parallels between the film and Hamlet add an extra resonance to this farcical ending, so out of keeping with the dark tone of the film.

The discrepancies between Blue Velvet and Hamlet can be equally telling, in that they stand out and undermine the sincerity of the film's ending. At the film's conclusion, Sandy has forgiven Jeffrey for sleeping with Dorothy, and they appear a devoted young couple. Sandy's father, Detective Williams, seems to be entirely clear of any suspicion of involvement with his corrupt colleague, the Yellow Man, and is happily talking with Jeffrey's fully-recovered father at a family gathering. In Hamlet, however, Ophelia is devastated by Hamlet's cruel treatment of her. Her plaintive lament: 'O woe is me / T'have seen what I have seen, see what I see' (66) would equally apply to Sandy's plight, in the conspicuously specular (as well as aural) world of Blue Velvet, in which she is forced to literally see her boyfriend's naked, beaten lover. But whereas Sandy seems to be placated with one penitent phone-call from Jeffrey, Ophelia is driven to madness by Hamlet's behaviour, and the death of her father at his hands. In fact, Polonius' famous killing by Hamlet is repeatedly evoked in Blue Velvet: Gertrude's chamber in Hamlet is repeatedly referred to as a 'closet', (67) whereas an actual closet in Dorothy's apartment becomes a focal point in Blue Velvet. Jeffrey hides in Dorothy's closet three times: first to spy on Dorothy, subsequently to hide from Frank, and finally to shoot him. In both the play and the film, the young hero kills a corrupt father figure in a scene involving hiding in the room of the mother figure. In Blue Velvet, however, Detective Williams emerges from the narrative, unscathed in body or reputation.

Preston observes the unlikeliness of Sandy's rapid forgiveness of Jeffrey, (68) and notes the disconcerting and persistent sense of her father's complicity in the crimes surrounding Dorothy: '[t]here was something sinister about the way he talked--the questions he asked, and the dark room--lighted only by a red-shaded lamp--where he and Jeffrey conferred.' (69) Similarly, Atkinson describes Detective Williams as 'a cosmically suspicious, stern, lizardy, altogether strange cop'. (70) The fact that one of the principal villains, the Yellow Man, is revealed to be Detective Williams' colleague, Detective Gordon, casts further suspicion on Williams, who consistently discourages Jeffrey's investigation. But the spectre of Shakespeare's canonical play further emphasises the stark unlikeliness of the film's end. Aware that, in Hamlet, Polonius is conspiring with Claudius against Hamlet, and Ophelia is driven to madness and drowns (in an act which, to the gravediggers at least, constitutes suicide) (71) the viewer is less credulous about Blue Velvet's implausible ending.

Lindroth, in his discussion of Blue Velvet in relation to Oz, observes of Blue Velvet's ending that, '[h]aving turned fairytale to nightmare, Lynch relents and [...] opts for a classical closure. The monster is killed, the good father returned, and Dorothy's innocence restored.' (72) While Lindroth does acknowledge the presence of the bug in the robin's beak, remaining 'as a dark reminder of the fine line between dream and nightmare, of the horror within', (73) the idea of this as a restoration of innocence sits awkwardly with the film's many resonances with Hamlet. While Atkinson argues that the film is true to 'Lynch's unironic, childlike view of life', (74) Berry notes that Lynch's conclusion is 'transparently ironic, a ridiculously happy ending to the small town life of a nuclear family', (75) and Knafo and Feiner state that '[s]uch an ending [...] is too improbable for Lynch.' (76)

When Lindroth likens Blue Velvet to The Wizard of Oz, he claims that 'Lynch's most dangerously clever game with the audience is to take everybody's favourite, sun-drenched fairytale and turn it into nightmare.' (77) However, Lynch's play on Hamlet performs the opposite function, by engaging with a canonical tragedy and turning it, at the end of the film, into a 'sun-drenched fairytale'. For the viewer who is alert to the manifold resonances between Blue Velvet and Hamlet, the film's ending takes on an added irony. Thinking of the pile of bodies on the floor at Elsinore, the end of Blue Velvet seems to me indeed to be 'an almost Shakespearean restoration of order', but not in the sense Kaleta intends. If the parallels between Hamlet and Blue Velvet demonstrate anything, it is that Blue Velvet is indeed a tragedy.


(1) Phillip Kerr, 'Sex with a dressing gown: Philip Kerr goes on a tour of corruption and depravity with Dennis Hopper', New Statesman, vol. 130, no. 4568, 103.

(2) Janet Preston, 'Dantean imagery in Blue Velvet', Literature and Film Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 3, 1990, 167-172.

(3) Jane Shattuc, 'Postmodern misogyny in Blue Velvet', Genders, vol. 13, 1992, 75.

(4) James Lindroth, 'Down the yellow-brick road: Two Dorothys and the journey of initiation in dream and nightmare', Literature and Film Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 3, 1990, 163.

(5) Lindroth, 162. Michael Atkinson, however, claims that '[e]xplicit references to The Wizard of Oz, beyond Dorothy's name, were cut [...] and saved for Wild at Heart' (Michael Atkinson, Blue Velvet, British Film Institute, London, 1997, 17-8).

(6) David Lynch, cited in Michael Chion, David Lynch, BFI, London, 1995, 92.

(7) Wolfgang H Clemen, 'The imagery of Hamlet', in John Jump (ed.), Shakespeare--Hamlet: A Casebook, Macmillan, London, 1968, 65.

(8) William Shakespeare, Hamlet, G R Hibbard (ed.), Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1987, 170.

(9) Shakespeare, 191.

(10) Shakespeare, 191.

(11) Martha Nochimson, The Passion of David Lynch: Wild at Heart in Hollywood, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1997, 108.

(12) Nochimson, 108.

(13) Harry Levin, The Question of Hamlet, Oxford University Press, New York, 1959, 66.

(14) Norman Denzin, Theory, Culture and Society, vol. 5, 1988, 470.

(15) Chion, 95.

(16) Shakespeare, 308.

(17) Shakespeare, 163.

(18) Shakespeare 191.

(19) Denzin, 470.

(20) Shattuc, 83.

(21) Shakespeare, 361.

(22) Shakespeare, 350.

(23) Levin, 97.

(24) Kenneth Kaleta, David Lynch, Twayne Publishers, New York, 1993, 93. Betsy Berry notes that '[t]he ear functions as a major structural symbol throughout the film, the first of many aural elements that provide links between normality and nightmare' (Betsy Berry, 'Forever, in my dreams: Generic conventions and the subversive imagination in Blue Velvet', Literature and Film Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 2, 1988, 84).

(25) Kaleta, 95.

(26) Shakespeare, 188.

(27) Kaleta, 98.

(28) Shakespeare, 187.

(29) Shakespeare, 247.

(30) Shakespeare, 145.

(31) Shakespeare, 311.

(32) Shakespeare, 280.

(33) Clemen, 70.

(34) Caroline Spurgeon, Shakespeare's Imagery, Cambridge University Press, London, 1971.

(35) Shakespeare, 285.

(36) Shakespeare, 187.

(37) Shakespeare, 163.

(38) Shakespeare, 285.

(39) Kaleta, 98.

(40) Kaleta, 109.

(41) Chion, 92.

(42) Tracy Biga, Blue Velvet review, Film Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 1, 1987, 45.

(43) Ernest Jones, Hamlet and Oedipus, Norton, New York, 1976.

(44) Cited in Cedric Watts, Hamlet, Harvester Wheatsheaf, New York, 1988, xxxvi-xxxvii.

(45) Jones, 88.

(46) Barbara Creed, 'A journey through Blue Velvet--Film, fantasy and the female spectator', New Formations, no. 6, 1988, 112.

(47) Kaleta, 124.

(48) Creed, 112.

(49) Danielle Knafo and Kenneth Feiner, 'Blue Velvet--David Lynch's primal scene', The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol. 83, 2002, 1449.

(50) Lindroth, 164.

(51) Atkinson, 48.

(52) Berry, 85.

(53) Shattuc, 82.

(54) Paul Coughlin, 'Blue Velvet: Postmodern parody and the subversion of conservative frameworks', Literature and Film Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 2, 1988, 504.

(55) Creed, 111.

(56) Creed, 111.

(57) Lindroth, 165.

(58) Shakespeare, 281-2.

(59) Shakespeare, 282.

(60) Jones 1976.

(61) It is interesting to note that Kyle MacLachlan, who plays Jeffrey in Blue Velvet, later starred as Claudius in Michael Almereyda's film version of Hamlet (2000), providing an amusing extra-diegetic level of complicity between the young hero and the villain in the two parallel texts.

(62) Kaleta, 129.

(63) Kaleta, 128.

(64) Chion, 97.

(65) Nochimson, 99-121.

(66) Shakespeare, 245.

(67) Shakespeare, 266, 27.

(68) Preston, 171.

(69) Preston, 171.

(70) Atkinson, 26.

(71) Shakespeare, 320-22.

(72) Lindroth, 166.

(73) Lindroth, 166.

(74) Atkinson, 71.

(75) Berry, 89.

(76) Knafo and Feiner, 1451.

(77) Lindroth, 166.

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Date:Jan 1, 2006
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