Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet

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Young Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is on the brink of manhood in Lumberton 1986—David Lynch’s mise-en-scène is also readying to leave its “Leave it to Beaver” façade behind. In a town overwhelmed by bright white picket fences, blood red fire trucks, and carefully pruned roses, there’s something especially grotesque about a man having a heart attack on his front lawn while his cocker spaniel laps spraying water from the hose still clinging to his hand. Blue Velvet is a film about the reality and streams of subconscious desire seething beneath a preposterously idealistic vision of America. Jeffrey discovers a severed, ant-infested human ear near a grassy trail (Lynch’s homage to Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou), bringing it to the attention of the local police chief. With the help of Sandy (Laura Dern), a voyeuristic girl-next-door who emerges hauntingly from the shadows and promises her devotion to his mission, Jeffrey breaks into the apartment owned by an emotionally frayed chanteuse, Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rosselini, doing her best impersonation of a living china doll). Forget for a moment that MacLachlan is Lynch’s doppelganger here. Lynch is less concerned with self-reference than he is with charting the uncomfortable crawlspace between boyhood and manhood. The many rooms of Blue Velvet are fascinatingly representative of internal moods: the white walls of the virginal Sandy’s home; the garish blues and vaginal pinks of Dorothy’s kitschy modern apartment; and the cluttered, homely look of the Beaumont home. Jeffrey innocently woes Sandy with an okey-dokey “chicken walk” before the officer’s daughter speaks of a dream where darkness fell upon the face of the earth because there were no robins. It’s all set to the sounds of Angelo Badalmenti’s brilliant TV-noir score, which evokes everything from the wide-eyed glee of ’50s pop (Roy Orbison and Bobby Devlin, whose “Blue Velvet” was the inspiration for the film) to divine religious hymnals. In a town where Awake magazines are readily associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Dennis Hopper’s Frank becomes a kind of satanic assault on normalcy. He’s a rapist and kidnapper and if Dorothy’s desire to be physically hit by Jeffrey is any indication, Frank’s perversion easily spreads. But, then again, Lynch seems to suggest that love is as potent in Frank’s fetishistic strange world as it is in Sandy’s happy-go-lucky one. Even when the robins do return to Lumberton, Lynch still forces his characters to acknowledge the grotesque backside of their idyllic worldviews.

Image/Sound

There’s little difference between the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer of this Blue Velvet DVD and that of the first edition MGM released a few years ago. Though the disc’s exterior night scenes are a bit on the grainy side, the transfer looks cleaner this time around. Even more impressive is the new Dobly Digital 5.1 surround track. The sound remains kind of front-heavy yet dialogue is perfectly discernable and Angelo Badalamenti’s score and Julee Cruise’s voice are significantly less invasive on this new DVD edition. The music of Blue Velvet sounds like that from a bygone era. It’s certainly effusive but certainly not unlike the call of angles. Truly as it should be.

Extras

The hour-long documentary "Mysteries of Love" included on this DVD edition of Blue Velvet is exactly the kind of supplement that makes up for the fact that David Lynch loathes commentary tracks. This spectacular retrospective featurette looks into the film’s origins, Lynch’s incredible attention to detail, his artistic background and his ethereal connection to sound (Mortal Coil’s epic remake of Tim Buckley’s "Song To The Siren" couldn’t be used for the film so Badalamenti more or less recreated the mood of the song with lyrics from Lynch and Cruise’s angelic voice). Also discussed are Alan Splet’s intensely industrial sound design and the controversy that greeted the film upon its release. Isabella Rossellini, who was second in line for the part after Helen Mirren, apparently blamed her modeling career for the way some critics took offense to the film’s handling of her nakedness. Lynch delivered a four-hour cut of Blue Velvet to producer Dino De Laurentis and while all the unused footage is believed to be lost, MGM has meticulously recreated several lost scenes from the films using publicity stills from the film’s shoot. This section is humorously referred to as "Are You A Pervert?" Also included is the film’s theatrical trailer, a collectable booklet, a photo gallery and the "Siskel & Ebert" television review of the film.

Overall

Sans commentary from Mr. Lynch, this is perhaps the closest thing to a definitive Blue Velvet DVD one can expect. Perverts can now rejoice.

Image 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5

Sound 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5

Extras 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5

Overall 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5 4.0 out of 5

Specifications
  • DVD-Video
  • Dual-Layer Disc
  • Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital Formats
  • English 5.1 Surround
  • French 2.0 Surround
  • Spanish 1.0 Surround
  • DTS
  • None
  • Subtitles & Captions
  • English Closed Captions
  • English Subtitles
  • French Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Portuguese Subtitles
  • Special Features
  • "Mysteries of Love" Documentary
  • "Are You A Pervert?" deleted scenes montage
  • Siskel & Ebert review
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots
  • Buy
    DVD | Soundtrack
    Release Date
    June 18, 2002
    Distributor
    MGM Home Entertainment
    Runtime
    135 min
    Rating
    R
    Year
    1986
    Director
    David Lynch
    Screenwriter
    David Lynch
    Cast
    Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, Hope Lang, Dean Stockwell, George Dickerson, Priscilla Pointer, Jack Harvey, Frances Bay, Ken Stovitz, Brad Dourif, Jack Nance