|Interviews & Articles
Interview with "die tageszeitung", 1987
published on February 12, 1987 in the German newspaper "die tageszeitung".
Absolutely! I love all mysteries, the unknown. I love to go into dark areas, because I don't know what is there. I like the idea of a surface and I like the idea that this surface is hiding something underneath. I guess people love to see something they don't know and to go where they've never been before.
Is it an autobiographical movie?
Yes and no.
It's even so that your leading actor who plays the young Jeffrey, Kyle Mac Lachlan, looks pretty much like you.
Yes, he says that he tries to be like me...
So, are you like he is?
You mean, if I go around and do such things? No. These things are happening more in my mind than in my life.
In the sadistic parts of "Blue Velvet" there is a little flame superimposed on the screen - as a positive symbol?
No, the flame is a part of the thing. It just shows it's getting dark now and it creates a mood. It opens a very special world of ideas.
So you don't aim to the sadistic direction?
No. The object of this movie is a story which came into my mind and now it's on screen. Certainly this story leads into dark areas. But if you as a filmmaker shirk from sex, for example, because someone says: 'you'd just exploit that', than you're just blocking something that belongs to the human nature. There you must be allowed to go, question it, look closely at it. That's got nothing to do with turning on the masses.
"Blue Velvet" is also a peculiar love story in which love works very complicated.
Yes, but it works. If you would have a movie in which two people fall in love from the beginning and would then be in love all the time, for all two hours, then people would probably run out of the theater.
How come such stories into your mind? You walk around and they just pop up?
Yes, that's right. Sometimes when I walk, sometimes when I sit. Most of all I love to go to Coffee Shops, they are somehow safe places. There you can think in all sorts of directions, and if it gets too bad you just go back to the Coffee Shop. That's like in the movies. There you also see the most frightening things, but you are, at the same time, in the safety of the movie theater.
There are some extreme close-ups in "Blue Velvet". At the beginning, for example, when the gardener falls down on the lawn after his heart attack, the camera crawls away from him, through gigantic blades of grass into the darkness, and one is afraid there may come a monster straight out of it.
Yes, the camera dives into the darkness, into a dark area that was hidden before, just like the movie itself. When you're looking into darkness, you start to scrape around with your thoughts, what could there possibly come out of it. You become a scientist, your fears get activated.
In the same way the camera dives into a severed ear which is triggering the whole story.
I don't know myself why it was an ear - probably because it has an opening that pulls you in, just like Jeffrey is pulled into this story. That became quite a good parallel.
Ear, sky, velvet, grass: all things from nature. Did you want to point out something special?
No, not consciously. That happened more one by one. Take Lumberton where Blue Velvet is located, it's a small town surrounded by trees and nature. That's a part of this surface. During pre-production we had no name for the town and the production designer suggested to choose a name that really exists so that we can get things like license plates for free. Then Lumberton happened to catch my eye and I fell in love with it right away.
Is Blue Velvet an American movie? How do you picture America?
For me, it is an American movie, because I don't know so much about the rest of the world. Its characters are, for me, somehow archetypally American. In the U.S., like anywhere else I guess, is a certain kind of surface of life and people perceive it in a certain way. And it hides a lot of strange things, beautiful things but also dark diseases. Though that's not only true for Lumberton but for many places.
But you seem to be fascinated by this side of America. Some of the characters in Blue Velvet look like they'd been taken directly out of photographs by Diane Arbus.
I like Diane Arbus. She was fascinated by the strange side of life like I am. Everything different attracts attention and makes you curious. People are fascinated by her photographs and try to find out how can people look like that.
And that does not mean a criticism on the United States?
No, not at all. It's just fascination.