Blue Velvet

Viewed – 02 December 2011  Blu-ray

David Lynch’s 1986 movie has been heralded by some critics as the greatest movie of the 80s, even if it’s subject matter and provocative, often disturbing imagery may contradict what we think of when recalling the eighties.  There was clearly nothing quite like it during that decade, and despite an initial negative reaction, has gone on to be considered the director’s masterpiece.  I have had a mixed relationship with the film, and although a fan of Lynch’s work, didn’t enjoy Blue Velvet when I first watched it.  Like much of the director’s output, it treads an awkward line between conventional drama / thriller plotting and absolute weirdness with moments that can’t be rationalized or explained … yet on subsequent viewings, I began to greatly appreciate the style, the uncomfortable atmosphere and the often beautiful imagery.

Beautiful and disturbing, much like Isabella Rossellini’s Dorothy, part glamorous siren, part broken doll.  She plays a nightclub singer trapped in a situation by the malevolent Frank, a career best from the late Dennis Hopper who deliver’s an intense and very disturbing performance of a very perverse and unpredictable monster.  Dorothy finds salvation from snooping high school amateur detective Jeffrey (Kyle Maclachlan) who stumbles upon her plight after finding a severed ear in a field, and after giving it over to the Police, begins his own investigation with the help of the Police Detective’s daughter Sandy (Laura Dern).  He goes on to uncover a dark and sinister world lurking beneath the idyllic suburban town of Lumberton, and gradually enters a nightmare he may never wake up from.

This is movie that never allows the viewer to feel safe, and will be an acquired taste for some.  It explores aspects of violence, masochism and sex few movies fear to tread, and although it doesn’t show anything particularly graphic, it creates a mood that is unflinching in its nightmarish-tone.  Lynch is one of the few director’s who can perfectly capture the feel of a dream, and with a surreal use of music, from Bobby Vinton’s timeless title track to Roy Orbison’s seminal In Dreams, this has a look and feel uniquely its own, and uniquely Lynch.  Quite brilliant.

The Blu-ray boasts a very nice if purposely soft-focus image, which oozes colour and detail.  The soundtrack, very important for a David Lynch movie is also very effective, with clear dialogue and great impact from the music and also the weird and effective sound design.  The extras are plentiful with a multi-part documentary called Mysteries Of Love running for 72 minutes, newly discovered footage spanning 50 minutes, and we also have outtakes, interviews and a Siskel & Ebert review.  No commentary, although that is not really surprising considering Lynch’s often secretive attitude towards his work, and overall this is a great treatment for a real classic.

Verdict:  5 /5

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