Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue VelvetThere is no denying that writer/filmmaker David Lynch has always shown a consistency in creating films of ecstatic creepiness. But its his venture to the surreal, dark and ominous settings that separate him from other filmmakers.

From his debut in 1977 with his surrealist film "Eraserhead" which has become a cult classic, to the sci-fi film "Dune" (1984) which paired him with actor Kyle MacLachlan for the first time, the director would reach recognition for his TV series "Twin Peaks" (1990-1991). And since "Twin Peaks", David Lynch has done quite well for himself, especially establishing him as one of the most notable filmmakers and screenwriters in American cinema.

But if there is one film that fans of David Lynch have looked as a masterpiece in his oeuvre is the 1986 film "Blue Velvet".

A film that probably is best not explaining but more of experiencing for its dark, ambiguous yet astonishing nature. Unpredictable and surreal, "Blue Velvet" shows us a terrifying look at America in which characters may be normal during the day, but at night...Lynch unleashes paranoia and challenge your sensibility and quite literally... freak you out!


"Blue Velvet" is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1). The film actually was supervised and color corrected by David Lynch, so what you get is a definitive look via HD of what David Lynch wanted. Detail is amazing especially the use of the darker colors. Cinematographer Frederick Elmes does a great job in capturing the surreal outlook of the film and for the most part, the darker hues look fantastic, detail on the clothing is noticeable and black levels are nice and deep. I didn't notice any banding or artifacts, if anything, picture quality for this 1986 film doesn't look soft at all (I'm typically vocal about how many '80s films tend to look on Blu-ray), but "Blue Velvet" looks fantastic!


"Blue Velvet" is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish Mono, French 5.1 DTS. The lossless soundtrack lends to the eeriness of the film. Dialogue is crystal clear as is the score by Angelo Badalamenti but the scene where you will hear immersive sound coming from the surround channels is during the Snow Club sequences. Also, a few moments where LFE is used.

Overall, this creepy soundtrack definitely comes to life via lossless!

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French.


"Blue Velvet" comes with the following special feature:

Newly Discovered Lost Footage (51:42) New to this Blu-ray release is the lost footage that was found (ie. full frontal nudity). All presented in HD.

Mysteries of Love (1:10:45) The original making-of featurette presented in standard definition. Interviews with David Lynch and the cast of "Blue Velvet".

Siskel & Ebert "At the Movies" Review (1:30) A excerpt of George Siskel and Roger Ebert's review of "Blue Velvet" back in 1986.

Vignettes Featuring four vignettes (under one minute) "I Like Coffee Shops", "The Chicken Walk", "The Robin" and "Sita" with David Lynch, Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini and more.

Theatrical Trailer (1:33:1)The original theatrical trailer for "Blue Velvet" in HD.

TV Spots Featuring two TV commercials for "Blue Velvet" (both are about 30 seconds long).


"Blue Velvet" is a magnificent, dark and seedy mystery film that showcases David Lynch's ability to take normalcy and twist it it around until it becomes weird or corrupt. A film that resonates strongly with viewers especially at the time because compared to what American cinema was capable of at the time, "Blue Velvet" lacked the banality of typical American cinema.

It was American cinema that showcased surrealism with wonderful efficacy and a storyline that literally creeps the viewer out with its fine performance by Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rosellini and most importantly, Dennis Hopper. Suffice to say, this film was what reignited Hopper's career and earned the actor various film awards (Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics) for "Best Supporting Actor".

But as I look back at the experience of "Blue Velvet" than and now, it was one of those films that had these flawed characters that could easily be involved in this seedy underworld. Not only was the nightlife dark and ominous, just the scene as Frank is having sex with Dorothy is shocking. But also to see Jeffrey being taken to that world where he also experiences pleasure and rage when he ends up in bed with Dorothy. We witness an innocent man's corruption, where most viewers would expect the protagonist to become sort of hero to save the day, David Lynch is not the type of filmmaker to spoon-feed the viewer with what you would expect from cinema but to deliver the unexpected. The sense of ambiguous characters in which you literally don't know the film will end.

And it would be the style that he would carry on later for television and his films later on. And as "Eraserhead" was an intriguing debut for David Lynch, "Blue Velvet" is the film that welcomed viewers to David Lynch's world of darkness, strange humor and unsettling surrealness.

The Blu-ray release definitely delivers with its inclusion of the newly discovered lost footage and for those who enjoyed the film, could you imagine if any of these extra scenes did make it to the final cut of the film? And as picture and audio quality are magnificent, I can easily say that this is the definitive version of "Blue Velvet" to date!

David Lynch films are not for the squeamish, nor are they for those who expect traditional Hollywood cinema. This film shocked viewers in 1986 and if you have never seen this film before, I wouldn't be surprised if it shocked you today. It's a film that holds up quite well 25-years-later and is definitely a film for the true cineaste who love Lynch's work that they will find worth owning.

Highly recommended!

Set in the quiet picture postcard logging community of Lumbertown, Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), a somewhat naive and squeaky clean college boy, finds a severed human ear. Shocked and disturbed he reports it immediately to the police whilst, with the help of his girlfriend (Laura Dern), he begins his own investigation, which soon leads him into stumbling into the seedy and violent world of abused nightclub singer Dorothy (Isabella Rosellini) and drug-sniffing psychopath (Dennis Hopper).

This is the first movie in which David Lynch really showed us all his cards and united themes and imagery, now familiar to millions through the likes of Mulholland Drive, Wild At Heart and Twin Peaks. Although 16 years old, David Lynch's Blue Velvet has lost none of its shock value. It is still deeply and uniquely disturbing, at times incredibly surreal and utterly compelling viewing. Beautifully filmed and directed by Lynch, its aesthetic value is often deliberately at odds with the subject matter and it is a work of dark genius. It also features superb acting performances all round. In particular, MacLachlan, Rosselinni, Dean Stockwell and Laura Dern shine, but it is Dennis Hopper's magnificent performance as a drug sniffing twisted psychopath that most people will remember.

Bizarre and frequently haunting, beautiful but frequently surreal, this is a movie that will stay with you for a very long time and really is a must see!

Buy Blue Velvet (1986) Now

Blue Velvet may just be the largest Love/Hate Phenomenon in film history. You will either love it or hate. And after seeing the movie again yesterday, it's not hard to see why. The film has several scenes that reach the barrier of what a lot of viewers are willing to take. The movie never lets it's viewers off easily. It is violent, has several scenes that involve female degradation, and a villian who uses the "F" word more times then any character I have ever seen in any movie.

This may not sound like an incredible film from my review. And I don't want to waste any space decribing the films main plot. David Lynch films are as unique as it gets. You have to see this film for yourself to decide whether or not you like it.

The film does pack some of the most well constructed suspense scenes I have ever seen. It features an incredible performance by Dennis Hopper. But the real reason to see the movie is the look and feel that the dvd version captures perfectly. The colors and imagery of this film will be burned into your retinas for weeks after you've watched it. From things as simple as roses and fire trucks, to underground bugs and construction yards this movie looks beautiful. So my best advice if you've never seen this movie is to rent it first. Like I said, people either love it or hate it, Im part of the former group. Overall Rating:A+

Read Best Reviews of Blue Velvet (1986) Here

I hated it. I really did. I was deeply offended by this film when I first saw it. It disturbed the hell out of me, in all the wrong ways.

Then I saw Lost Highway a film that, it seems, everyone hated BUT me. I thought it was a masterpiece of psychological horror; a real mind-bender with an extroardinary interior perspective on homicidal madness.

So I got to thinking: maybe I should give Blue Velvet another shot. Maybe I just wasn't ready for it 17 years ago. This time I would be prepared for Dennis Hopper's demented Frank Booth. I would be ready for the ear in the field. I would be ready for the unbelievably creepy and kinky scenes in Dorothy's apartment.

What I saw was a different film not because the film had changed, but because I had changed. A lot can happen in 17 years. A guy can grow up. A guy can sense for himself the underbelly of perversion beneath the white-picket facade of middle America. A guy can come to appreciate a wickedly funny and disturbing film about the hypocrisy of genteel exteriors. A film like Blue Velvet, in other words.

David Lynch's great skill as a director is his ability to aim right for the hind-brain the unreasoning, alligator brain where the primal self lives. His work tends to hit there first, and then ricochet to the reasoning self. That's why his work is so evocative. Critics and audiences alike struggled to "explain" Mulholland Drive, and while a sensible explanation for it is possible, it sort of misses the point. These films are waking dreams or nightmares that, like paintings or pieces of music, try to touch something deeper than the intellect. You can't read a Beethoven symphony like a novel, you can't play Edvard Munch's "The Scream" on a musical instrument, and you can't understand Blue Velvet in terms of ordinary realism. To do so is to run screaming from it in terror or disgust, as I initially did.

But taken for what it is a kind meditation on the darkness inside you start to see the outragousness of this film in a different light. You start to see that the characters are not so much two-dimensional freaks as they are embodiments of primal forces we all have inside of us. In Frued's moth-eaten old psychoanylitic terms (really a poor way of approximating, but it's the best I can do), Frank Booth is the hedonistic Id. Sandy Williams (Laura Dern) is the pure and virtuous Superego, and Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle McLaughlin) is the ego the waking part of us torn between the two.

Of course, this is a Reductionist view, and it really does disservice to the artistic acheivement of Blue Velvet. To really appreciate it, one needs to set aside preconceptions and let the experience of it percolate through that gray matter.

The DVD itself is well produced, with some nice extras (rare on Lynch DVDs), and a beautiful film transfer that really showcases Frederick Elmes' cinematography.

If you're a David Lynch fan, you don't need convincing. If you're where I was 17 years ago, give it another shot. You might just like it. A lot.

Want Blue Velvet (1986) Discount?

Although I was once inclined to agree with Roger Ebert's dismissal of "Blue Velvet" as a shocking albeit skillful montage of pointless images and effects, I've had to do a 360 turnaround after seeing it on DVD and reconsidering it in relation to some similar texts. The film certainly makes sense in comparison with a quest narrative such as Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" and in light of Freud's ideas about love as well as Nietzsche's thoughts on the Dionysian self. It's also a film that pays constant homage to Hitchcock's best work, notably "Rear Window" and "Psycho," in its preoccupation with spectator psychology.

The most important lines occur early in the film when the protagonist, Kyle MacLachlan, tells Laura Dern that he needs to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding Isabella Rosselli because "knowledge requires risk" but with the possible reward that "you might learn something." By the end of the narrative, MacLachlan's character should have learned a lot, but here's where Lynch flinches, much like Robert Altman in the conclusion to "The Player." MacLachlan emerges neither a sadder nor wiser man from his rite of passage and his descent into the dark corners of the psyche. Instead, Lynch cynically reprises the film's innocent opening with its hopelessly artificial, Pollyannish, pastoral idyl that is most likely the preferred reality of the American mainstream movie consumer. At the same time, he preserves the tenuousness of such a naive vision with the shot of an insect impaled on a robin's beak and with a soundtrack that subjects the theme song to a disturbing treatment out of some internal, subterranean sound studio.

The film's meanings are inexhaustible, though a few important details should not be missed. Jeff confronts, first, mortality (his father stricken by a life-threatening stroke), then a severed, decaying human ear. The ear, the organ of hearing, is also the sense that fully awakens only in the dark, granting access to the Dionysian, deep intuitive wellsprings of the self. But the ear we see on screen has become a diseased, useless instrument in a "sunny" culture whose idea of music is Bobby Vinton's version of "Blue Velvet." Rossellini's alternative version of the song, with all of its sensuous, alluring darkness, will draw MacLachlan in to the same degree that it repells girl friend Dern (contrast this relationship with that of Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in "Rear Window," where Kelly becomes increasingly drawn to the voyeuristic and "ghoulish" activity initiated by Stewart). Soon MacLaclan will discover the love substitutes embodied by both Rossellini and Hopper--the sadism and masochism, fetishism and scopophilia that, like it or not, are present in every son and daughter who has inherited from birth and learned from upbringing the pleasure/pain principle that underlies even the most well-intentioned, "selfless" love (the absence of any shown feelings between MacLaclan and either parent is another tip-off to the basis of his attraction to the dominitrix/sex slave character played by Rossellini).

As for the "villain," the foul-mouthed Dennis Hopper did not seem so frightening or repelling to me on this viewing. If anything, he's less the personification of evil than another version of insecure, overcompensating macho desire, perhaps better seen as a projection of the searching MacLachlan than as anybody's nemesis.

Lynch must know the risk, and even believe in the necessity, of coming to terms with the feelings of a darker but far from inauthentic self. MacLaclan tells the naive, shielded and conventional Dern from the beginning that it's extremely dangerous business. But the alternative is a Salem where everybody is "good," a Lumberton where people get sick but never die, a Disney fantasy that can exist only in artificial movies. I still think that "Blue Velvet" (in fact, most any other film since 1980) is eclipsed by his own "Elephant Man," where the camera takes us into the eye-hole and interior world of John Merrick, whose world we discover is also ours. But "Blue Velvet" is a more personal film, revealing not simply the mind of its creator but capturing a distinctively American experience.

Save 32% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment