The opening scene in David Lynch's Blue Velvet portrays the theme of the entire film. During this sequence he uses a pattern of showing the audience pleasant images, and then disturbing images to contrast the two. The first shot of the roses over the picket fence and the title track "Blue Velvet" establishes the setting (Lumberton) as a typical suburban town. The camera starts on a bright blue sky with birds chirping and flying by and then tilts down to bright red roses over a bright white fence (red, white and blue symbolizes the American dream maybe? ).
Both the visual and audible aspects of this shot gives a pleasant feeling of safety and serenity. The next shot is of a bright red fire truck slowly driving by in a neighborhood with a fireman smiling and waving with a Dalmatian by his side. This shot is sort of surrealistic and dreamlike. Lynch uses this shot to establish a sense of security. For a moment it appears that this shot is in slow motion, but only because the man is waving slowly, almost on beat with the music. The previous shot dissolves to another shot of flowers in front of a fence; this time, yellow tulips.
Once again the bright colors give the audience a sense of safety. The next shot, of a guard waving a group of children across the street from school establishes the setting as a family town. Even the kids are well behaved, walking in a straight line carrying their bag lunches. Each of the previous shots dissolve into each other, and each of the subsequent shots do not. The 4 previous shots are all pleasant and the dissolve technique makes them more dreamlike, while each of the next shots cut right into each other giving the sequence a faster pace. The next shot is an establishing shot of a house in the neighborhood.
It cuts to a man watering his lawn with a hose and then to a woman inside watching a crime film (ironic that crime is a theme of this film) on the television and drinking coffee. It cuts back to the man outside and to the spigot and snake-like hose. The hose is leaking and the man struggles to untangle the hose from the branch. It cuts back and forth between the hose and branch and then back to the man as he grabs his neck and collapses to the ground. As he lays there having a stroke (maybe? ) on the ground with the hose in his hand, a dog playfully bites the stream and a baby eating a popsicle walks up.
It zooms in on the dog twice and the frame rate is lowered. This in a way symbolizes how ignorance is bliss. The dog and the baby have no idea what has happened to the man, just like the people in the town have no idea what happens behind closed doors. After the dog it cuts to a close up of the grass in begins to zoom in, closer and closer. The score becomes non existent and the churning noise begins and becomes louder as the grass gets closer.
The camera moves through the grass and the disturbing sound of bones breaking becomes prominent. The lighting becomes darker and darker and the beetles are revealed. The beetles are shot with very low key lighting and extremely dark colors which are used to emphasize the difference between the first and last shots. The film then cuts to the "Welcome to Lumberton" sign and then to an extreme long shot of the city across the river. This entire sequence symbolizes that in this seemingly pleasant and normal family town, is a dark and evil underworld.
This theme is repeated and elaborated throughout the film.