Blue Velvet, Blu-ray (1986/2011)

by | Nov 14, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Blue Velvet, Blu-ray (1986/2011)
Director: David Lynch
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Isbella Rosselini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern
Studio: MGM [11/8/11]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish mono
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: “Mysteries of Love” documentary, Newly-discovered lost footage, Siskel & Ebert review, Vignettes, Outtakes, Orig. trailer, TV spots
Length: 120 minutes
Rating: ***** (or *)
Probably the quintessential David Lynch film and probably not for everybody. He mines his disturbing area of the horrible and eerie things going on just below the surface of the seemingly perfect Norman Rockwell American small town—as he later did in his TV series Twin Peaks. Even the small town being in a lumbering area is similar in this earlier effort, with the town being named after a real small town in the area—Lumberton. However, Blue Velvet was shot in South Carolina. (I liked the local radio station break: “Lumberton—where we really know how much wood a woodchuck can chuck.”)
The extras are most interesting in this package. MacLachlan had just come out of a very problematic shoot in Mexico with Lynch of Dune (which I still like in spite of everything), and Hopper had just come out of months of drug and alcohol withdrawal. (Typically strange but somehow appropriate Lynch ploy that he has Hopper playing a wild drug-addicted sadist who somehow gets high on oxygen. Lynch originally wanted Hopper to inhale helium in the mask so his voice would be absurdly high when he uttered his profanities, but Hopper refused.) Rosselini had only recently switched from modeling to being an actress, and her first scene with Hopper was an embarrassing nude shot where she couldn’t wear panties. Ebert hated Blue Velvet and complained about what Lynch had put Rosselini thru, but Siskel liked it.
Lynch seems to find the oddest occurrences to turn into eerie happenings. Such as the early scene in which his father’s garden hose gets snagged on a branch and results in the man’s near-fatal heart attack and complications. And the human ear which innocent college boy MacLachlan finds while wandering thru a vacant lot in the town. Lynch says he didn’t know much about film when he switched from being an artist to being a director, but he did know about the ants in the hand in Dali & Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou, and had that in mind when shooting the cut-off ear.
With the aid of another innocent, high school girl Laura Dern (daughter of a police detective), MacLachlan follows a sort of junior detective route in uncovering a dark yet compelling world of voyerurism, sex, brutality, and general loss of innocence. Dennis Hopper revived his career with his raving obscenity-spouting bad guy role. Rosselini is perfect as one of the few femme fatales who is more dangerous to herself than to any man.  The actors all detail what a sunny, happy, easy-to-work-with person Lynch was, but his twisted mind certainly came up with one of the most original noirish films ever made in Blue Velvet.
The transfer seemed to have rather grayish blacks in the many dark scenes, but they may be due to some further adjustment I need to do since the HDMI output to my HDTV now runs thru my new Integra preamp. The surround track isn’t especially immersive, but Angelo Badalamenti’s lush score comes thru well, adding a sort of satirical twist to the story, with more originality than typical minimal atonal music would have.
—John Sunier

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