Archetypal meaning of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet

#DavidLynch #BlueVelvet


David Lynch is considered to be one of those creators who approaches the process of creation as a process of self-discovery. He states that whenever he creates, he follows his own guides, instead of someone else’s premeditated structures and concepts. These guides send him ideas while he is connected to them through meditations. Who are they, where do those ideas come from? Where is this deep water, where he catches these ‘big fish’ that he refers to?



Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet


The idea behind every story of his is to create a unique journey for the audience who are willing to first get lost and then find themselves in a maze of different emotional images. For that to happen, a creator has to be willing to get lost himself. Logic is less important than emotional truthfulness and while being true to emotions, eventually logic follows.


This is the reason why I am particularly interested in deconstructing one of Lynch’s films to show once again two things: first, that the collective unconscious has its own logic, and second, to show the mechanics behind it. Let’s see what archetypes, our guides of the collective unconscious, have to say about yet another unique story.




For Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan), the main character in Blue Velvet, to become a grown-up man and the head of a family, which entails him starting his own family, first, he must commit to a woman and face his illusions about world’s innocence. This comes down to him having to cut ties with his first family, his mother and father. He can’t be a child anymore; he can’t be afraid of female energy, which both puzzles him and attracts him. But is it going to eat him alive or he can show up as equal in a grown-up world?



Rossellini and Lynch

1. Warrior →Fool (The exposition of a wound — ego) BATTLEFIELD

Pain caused by the wrong identity vs. all possible identities. The main conflict is introduced.

First: When Jeffrey’s father, who is watering the grass in front of their house, suddenly has an accident—whether he has a heart attack or it is just that the garden hose is somehow suddenly tangled around his neck (Lynch says this situation is complicated)– and ends up in the hospital, a journey opens up in front of Jeffrey. His real father appears to be out of the picture for now.

Second:

His mom, who is not going to be emotionally present in this story, is watching a film noir on TV. In this film noir, we see the gun, which is going to be used soon enough by Jeffrey in the scene with the metaphorical father, who he is going to meet toward the end of the film.

This is an emotional battlefield. It is a battlefield because Jeffrey’s father ends up in the hospital after this stage, and this occurs in a domestic setting, on the ideal lawn – or, rather, below the ideal lawn – in the subconscious, where dark bugs are finding their way to scare us.

Let’s dig deeper into this subconscious battlefield to see what else is hidden, what those fears of growing up are really about? Is it the fear of love, of dependency, of losing oneself in the pain of yearning for someone, fear of pain caused by wounds of abandonment, fear of women?

2. Creator →Orphan (A ray of hope) HEART’S DESIRE

Hero’s heart vs. non-authentic relationships.


Jeffrey is dreaming about love adventures, he is attracted to the mysterious world represented by the EAR who he is either going to listen or he will be lost. Whose ear is it and what is it telling Jeffrey?


3. Explorer →Magician (The hero decides to go on a quest) A BETTER LIFE IS POSSIBLE

Wrong belief vs. new vision.


As soon as the hero goes on a quest, he encounters the first obstacle: something or someone who wants to preserve the old system and structures (the Magician is always connected to the rebel archetype, someone who wants to change the system).

Jeffrey decides to follow his passion – he asks for help. The detective is the mentor here, he maybe has the secret knowledge about the subject Jeffrey is interested in, or does he? And is he willing to share what he knows with Jeffrey. It’s dangerous he says, better to stay away.


4. Lover →Caregiver (Wish storyline) LOVE INTRODUCED

Love triggers fear (overprotectiveness).


The detective has a daughter Sandy (Laura Dern) who reveals to Jeffrey what she heard about a woman who is connected to this strange world her father is investigating. She takes him to her building. Jeffrey is already hooked.

Safe love with Sandy vs. unsafe love that intrigues him with the mysterious motherly woman he is going to meet – who is he going to choose?


5. Sage →Destroyer (Healing is possible) REASONS BEHIND SUFFERING

Healing provokes self-destructiveness but also, we can say that here we have Healing the subconscious or destructive fears. This is the realist playing with danger.


Jeffrey takes Sandy to lunch just to present his idea to her: He plans to enter the mysterious woman’s apartment while pretending he is an exterminator, the ‘bug man’ as he says (where did we see the bugs before?)

The Sage is always the cleaner, the healer, an analyzer, a detective. So here, Jeffrey is literally deciding to heal the subconscious that we saw is full of bugs. Jeffrey is in the apartment and sees Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) for the first time. He finds out why she is suffering: she has a child and a husband who have been kidnaped by this awful man Frank (Dennis Hopper), who she is afraid of. Hidden in the closet, Jeffrey hears her talking to her son on the phone: “Mommy loves you,: she says in tears. The archetypes are talking to us through these characters. Sandy is the Healer here, Dorothy is the Destroyer. Jeffrey is the Healer, Frank is the Destroyer. Sandy says to Jeffrey: “I don’t know if you are a detective or a pervert.” And this is exactly what captures this stage the best: the hero is somewhere in between a detective who wants to solve problems and a pervert who would rather obsessively destroy himself by dwelling on them.


6. Ruler →Innocent (On the top of the false mountain