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Blue Velvet: Criterion Collection (1986) - Blu-ray Review

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Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet, now finding its way onto Blu-ray with a brand-new 4K restoration from Criterion Collection, remains an intoxicating look at supposed small-town tranquility in which innocence fears to tread.  Written and directed by David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks) after suffering through the wreckage and critical beating from his poorly received adaptation of Dune, the movie also serves as a bit of a confessional for Lynch as he returns to the genuine weirdness that made his debut, Eraserhead, so memorable.

"Blue Velvet is a masterpiece of many themes and moods and operates on a number of levels"


Dark thoughts, disturbing deeds and dangerously unpredictable characters are what the quiet town of Lumberton conceals beneath its pleasant Americana façade. Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), home from Oak Lake College to visit his hospitalized father (Jack Harvey) after his suffering from a heart attack, cuts through a vacant field on his way home and discovers a severed ear hiding in the grass.  He quickly brings it to Police Detective John Williams (George Dickerson) and, together, the two men ponder and speculate how the ear could have come to be in a sleepy Pacific Northwest logging town.

Peaked by the attractiveness and sudden interest in the case of the severed ear by the detective's daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern), the young and naive Beaumont simply will not let the mystery go.  Together, he and Sandy, obviously attracted to each other though Sandy has a boyfriend, delve deeper into the incident and discover that a suspicious torch singer, Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), may be involved.  Soon enough, after a bizarre turn of events involving a bit of breaking-and-entering from Beaumont, matters turn disturbing as the violently dry-humping Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) and his bizarre sexual tendencies – involving a lip-synching Ben (Dean Stockwell) - drag Beaumont and Dorothy into the unsettling truth behind the picturesque Lumberton and its residents.


Turning the mood of Bobby Vinton's classic rendition of “Blue Velvet” completely on its ear (pardon the play on words), Lynch presents a mysterious opening of intrigue that keeps beckoning its characters to follow until it completely spirals into something deadlier and, with each twist and turn of the crackling narrative, more bizarre than the last.  It is also completely intoxicating.  Call it disturbing.  Call it neo-noir.  Call it anything you want; Blue Velvet is a masterpiece of many themes and moods and operates on a number of levels.

Lynch and long-time cinematographer Frederick Elmes (Eraserhead, Wild at Heart) articulate the seedy world that exists on the fringes of Lumberton through some pretty gritty and grimy exploration of the insect world.  Many shots allude to the insects that plague summer days and summer nights and reveal the swarming nest of human filth that uses Lumberton as its cloak. Blue Velvet (1986)

And speaking of seedy, if the use of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” doesn’t send shivers down your spine then very few moments in cinema history will.  That’s Lynch’s precise ability to reveal what hides below the surface of things.  From one extreme to the other, Lynch pulls back the red velvet curtains to – time and time again – bring us closer to what we fear the most: ourselves.

Hitchcock did it with PsychoCharles Laughton did it with The Night of the HunterMartin Scorsese has Taxi Driver.  Add Lynch’s Blue Velvet to the list of directors who explore the psychotic subconscious with film and manage – soul, body, and mind - to strike a pop cultural nerve that resounds into the eternities.  With Blue Velvet, Lynch deconstructs the very folds and fabrics of suburbia and the life therein with a freakish finesse that is simply unmatched by his contemporaries.

Come visit, if you dare.

5/5 beers

Blue Velvet (1986)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Criterion Collection
Available on Blu-ray
- May 28, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Restored 4K digital transfer, with 7.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, both supervised by director David Lynch, Criterion’s handling of Blue Velvet is quite excellent.  Visually, the movie itself has never looked better than here in its remastered 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. The colors are more vibrant and details are sharper than ever before.  Sound is very important to Lynch and the 7.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, supervised by Lynch is quite intense.  Also included is the alternate original 2.0 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There are 50 minutes of newly discovered footage; footage the MPA deemed too disturbing; footage Lynch himself found during the transferring of the blu-ray.  Is there any other reason to own this title?  The documentary, ‘Mysteries of Love’, is a unique look at the development of the film from idea to page and beyond.  The found footage is not for the tame as it is quite explicit in nature.  Watch for a very young Megan Mullally as Beaumont’s girlfriend.  The outtakes are full of some goofing around on the set. There are a lot of vignettes to round out the release, too.

  • The Lost Footage, fifty-three minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes assembled by Lynch 
  • “Blue Velvet” Revisited, a feature-length meditation on the making of the movie by Peter Braatz, filmed on-set during the production 
  • Mysteries of Love, a seventy-minute documentary from 2002 on the making of the film
  • Interview from 2017 with composer Angelo Badalamenti 
  • It’s a Strange World: The Filming of “Blue Velvet,” a 2019 documentary featuring interviews with crew members and visits to the shooting locations 
  • Lynch reading from Room to Dream, a 2018 book he coauthored with Kristine McKenna 
  • Excerpts by McKenna from Room to Dream

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

5/5 stars

Blue Velvet (1986)

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
120 mins
Director
: David Lynch
Writer:
David Lynch
Cast:
Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper
Genre
: Drama | Thriller
Tagline:
It's a strange world.
Memorable Movie Quote: "In dreams, I walk with you. In dreams, I talk to you. In dreams, you're mine, all the time. Forever. In dreams..."
Theatrical Distributor:
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 19, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 28, 2019
Synopsis: Home from college, Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) makes an unsettling discovery: a severed human ear, lying in a field. In the mystery that follows, by turns terrifying and darkly funny, writer-director David Lynch burrows deep beneath the picturesque surfaces of small-town life. Driven to investigate, Jeffrey finds himself drawing closer to his fellow amateur sleuth, Sandy Williams (Laura Dern), as well as their person of interest, lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini)—and facing the fury of Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), a psychopath who will stop at nothing to keep Dorothy in his grasp.

Blue Velvet (1986)

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