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on April 11, 2017
Yeah it was um... it was pretty good.
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on January 12, 2004
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.
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on June 6, 2002
Although Lynch began as a painter his touch stone as a film director is really Hitchcock. No, we're not talking about the Hitchcock of North By Northwest but the Hitchcock of Vertigo, The Trouble With Charlie, The Birds and Shadow of a Doubt. In Many respects, Blue Velvet is an updating of Shadow of a Doubt; Lynch digs at the hidden underbelly of suburia and discovers the haunted dreams and corruption at its soul.
The kudos that were directed to Blue Velvet are very much deserved but the film viewer should be warned; Blue Velvet is a graphic film full of emotional violence and bizarre images. Ironically, Blue Velvet was one of Lynch's most successful films (and certainly truer to his vision than The Elephant Man). When Hitchcock mined similar terrain with Vertigo he found an unresponsive audience. When it was first released, Blue Velvet provoked as much as it entertained; the bizarre, surreal opening sequence by itself makes the audience sit up and take notice.
It took nearly thiry years for the audience to catch up with Hitchcock (by the mid-80's Vertio was recognized as a classic). No doubt, Lynch's best work will be rediscovered again by audiences. Roger Ebert's outraged review of the film (included on the DVD with the late Gene Siskel's more even tempered take on the film)was typical of critics and audiences at the time; how dare Lynch bait and provoke his audience this way! The responses weren't so different from Hitch's films Vertigo and Psycho when they were released (in the case of the Psycho much of the same critical reaction appeared in print).
The transfer to DVD is beautiful and captures the rich use of color as metaphor for various characters. The interviews with the stars and technical crew are interesting but, perhaps what is most interesting, is the fact that Lynch isn't interviewed. Instead, we see older interview footage shot around the time of the release of the film. Perhaps Lynch felt he had nothing to add but it is a rather strange. I would have been fascinated to hear what Lynch's observations were about the film now. Regardless, it doesn't effect the overall value of the extras.
Unfortunately, there are no outtakes. Evidently most of the outtakes were destroyed so a variety of stills are used to create the impression of what these outtakes would have looked like. The dissolves between various stills creates a subtle surreal effect that actually would have worked (in a limited fashion) quite well in the film.
One of Lynch's most complete films, Blue Velvet demonstrates all the interesting quirks that make his films worthwhile before the post Twin Peaks gimmicks. The only film that truly hinted at what Lynch was capable of was Eraserhead (a bit of trivia Jack Nance the star of Eraserhead and bit player in many Lynch films was my apartment manage when I lived in Los Angeles. At the time he was about to start work on Lynch's Dune). Both Elephant Man and Dune demonstrated that Lynch had the skill to make BLue Velvet but neither film belonged completely to Lynch.
Although Lynch would stumble with later films (Wild at Heart for example provokes like Blue Velvet but subsitutes vision weirdness), his vision matured with Blue Velvet. Blue Velvet is Lynch's Psycho. Lynch manages to create a bold, provocative new world with Blue Velvet. In stripping away the veneer of middle America, Lynch creates a striking portrait of the darkness that drives us all.
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on January 11, 2002
Despite its notoriety as a weird or kinky film, "Blue Velvet" should be both structurally and thematically clear to anyone who has read a narrative such as Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" and who has at least a moderate interest in 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."
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 commits the ultimate cynical sin, reprising the film's innocent opening and throwing in the viewer's face the hopelessly artificial, Pollyanna-ish, pastoral idyl that is most likely the preferred reality of the American mainstream movie consumer.
This is not the place for a detailed analysis of the film, though some of the following may help the viewer make sense of the narrative. 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, the 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).
Certainly Lynch must know, along with every other artist who has dealt with the theme, the risk along with the necessity of making touch with these feelings in order to achieve a fuller, richer, more knowing life in the time one has left. MacLaclan tells the naive and shielded Dern from the beginning that it's extremely dangerous business (think of Mann's "Death in Venice"). 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. Lynch may have thought he was being ironically clever by giving his viewers the "escape" they probably crave. I'd say "cowardly" is more like it. This film (in fact, most any other film since 1980) is easily eclipsed by his own "Elephant Man," where both the screenplay and the circumstances of the historical John Merrick insured the right ending. Unfortunately, someone let him write his own script for "Blue Velvet."
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on July 18, 2004
I've had a weird experience with this movie. The first time I saw it, I couldn't help being disappointed having already seen some of Lynch's other films. While Dennis Hopper's performance was impressive and many of his quotes from Blue Velvet stuck in my memory, somehow things just didn't click and I more or less thought of 'Blue Velvet' as a somewhat interesting, but ultimately forgettable experience. The seemingly good vs. evil theme of the film (the robins and Sandy's dream) in particular annoyed me and the whole thing added a definite 'cheese' factor.
One night I decided to give Blue Velvet another chance and surprisingly the experience was a much richer one; in fact, I would now say that this is an excellent movie.
[Incidentally, Lynch's Lost Highway had a somewhat similar, but completely opposite effect - I went from thinking that it was a great flick to thinking it was an alright one].
I would say that it is wrong to say that this film is about 'good vs. evil' or that Lynch is trying to make any sort of a moral statement in it; the nuances of Blue Velvet are much more subtle than that and the characters more complicated. As most of Lynch's work, Blue Velvet is about obsession and obsession luring people into dark corners of the world. The film pulls the viewer (as a voyeur) into its dangerous and strange universe and relies much (as a lot of other Lynch movies) on the pure flow of images, the atmospheric experience. The sound element adds much to enriching this powerful experience and Blue Velvet as a whole invites multiple viewings.
In my opinion this is one of Lynch's fairly straight forward films in terms of the linear-time progression (along with The Elephant Man and The Straight Story) and as such might serve as a good introductory movie to those who want to become more familiar with his work. (Mulholland Drive is, I believe, so far the consummation of Lynch's previous efforts into one crowning achievement).
Also, there are many interesting bonus materials in this little DVD package.
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David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" (1986) is a surreal tale that takes place in a small lumber town which has the big city problems of murders, and gangs. Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) discovers the dark side of the town as he investigates the mystery behind a human ear he finds in a field.

This blu-ray appears to be the same master as the Special Edition dvd that came out in 2002, but now seen in 1080p. Though what this blu-ray has over past releases is 50 minutes of newly discovered footage, whereas the 2002 dvd Special Edition only had about 9 minutes of still photographs that approximated the lost footage. Lynch had shot about four hours of film, which he then trimmed down to two hours for the final cut of the film. Two other things the blu-ray has over the Special Edition dvd are a few outtakes, and four vignettes, including the story behind the robin at the end of the film, which isn't what I thought it was. As in the 2002 Special Edition dvd set there is the review by Siskel and Ebert, and a documentary which is over one hour long called "Mysteries of Love".
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on January 22, 2008
This is a very beautiful film; it captures so much about life itself. There is certainly a dark side explored here, and you cannot look away once you start watching it. David Lynch has created a piece of artwork here only he could master. The more often I watch this, the more I appreciate it. Dennis Hopper is amazing here; if you are open to more than the mundane in film, you must see this film.

Unfortunately, it is not available from Amazon.ca; get it at Amazon.com.
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on December 7, 2003
I adore the way in which Lynch leads you into his own microcosm, each screen is more intriguing than the previous and you become involved with the characters. Blue Velvet is no exception: a simple town boy is intrigued by a woman, and following his curiosity gets drawn into her web, only to inadvertently uncover dark mysteries. We take this genuinely and often weirdly funny walk with him, a walk that'll cling to your thoughts long after the credits have rolled.
I don't idolize Lynch as many reviewers do (although I admired his work in The Straight Story) and I believe he has too often pursued weirdness for the sake of weirdness. But at his best he has produced marvels of film making. Blue Velvet is one of the latter as it doozily exposes the hidden dark underbelly of small towns, and of people that are seldom what they seem on the surface.
More than one viewing of this film is probably necessary if you really want to get it. The first time round, I ended up thinking that this was simply a noir-ish attempt at vulgar violence. The second viewing actually made me see some of the things Lynch wanted us to see without the shock factor.
Even so, this one may not be for everyone, but a must for Lynch fans.
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on February 1, 2001
Someone needs to tell David Lynch that the way to get subtlety and metaphors across to your audience is not to hit them over the head with it. Blue Velvet is brilliantly acted by nearly all involved, with the exception of Laura Dern, who manages to deliver one of the worst performances I have seen in a long time. One of the chief ways of making Blue Velvet an effective movie was for the director, Lynch, to make a noticeable difference between scenes in light and scenes shrouded in darkness. This would convey the theme of what lies beneath suburban America. However, in the light scenes, the dialogue is so ridiculously contrived, that it is impossible to care at all about the characters involved. Here, Lynch has made a movie with something to say, unfortunately the way in which he says it is uninteresting and at times, pitiable. The actors in this film are excellent, and to me represent the only reason anyone should ever see this movie. The characters created by Rosselini, Hopper, and Mclachlan are played with genuine feeling and emotion, something rarely seen in modern cinema. These actors, however, are left with a script that is struggling to make sense of itself. Many have said that Blue Velvet is one of the most significant films ever made. If Lynch had managed to pull of a halfway interesting approach to a fascinating theme, I might be inclined to agree. However, the script is atrocious, the direction and technical aspects of the film poor, and the story, honestly, is not at all interesting. Some reading this review will charge that I simply "didn't get the film". The problem isn't that I didn't "get" it--I did--but that the film was so poorly made that by the end, I just didn't care.
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on May 10, 2000
(Hmmm...I'll try and keep this under 5,000 words! ) I never got into the laserdisc thing (too bulky and expensive) so up until now I've never seen anythng but the pan and scan version of this film. The widescreen version illustrates Lynch's masterful use of the Cinemascope format, he uses every inch of the frame. Lynch is a true master of the cinema, and is arguably the best and most under-rated director of our time. (The succesor to Kubrick, perhaps?) Seeing Blue Velvet like this adds so much more dimension to the film...the picture and sound were incredibly crisp, one of the best I've seen on DVD. The only complaint is with the annoying case this movie was put in...you need to pinch the center with two fingers while popping the disc out with a 3rd finger. Very annoying, and it seems like one day I'm going to break the disc while taking it out. So to the studios...DONT MAKE THIS CASE ANYMORE! Anyway, that obviously is not a reason to avoid this DVD. Definitely not for the faint of heart...after I watched this film with my girlfriend, she became incredibly paranoid for the rest of the night! (I think Frank Booth did that...) This film and Lost Highway are must haves for first time Lynch viewers.
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