Plot: What’s it about?
When Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) returns to his small hometown after his father has a sudden stroke, he finds that his former place of residence is not as simple and innocent as he had once thought. Lumberton may seem like any other small town in the country, but it holds some dark secrets beneath its picturesque appearance. Almost as soon as he arrives, Jeffrey discovers a severed human ear, which of course, makes him wonder what is going on. Instead of taking the ear to the local police department, he takes it to a detective he knows there, who informs Jeffrey to keep mum about his find, as it could be part of a drawn out investigation. But that’s about all the information he is given, so he is left with more questions than when he arrived. Some of those questions are answered by the detective’s daughter (Laura Dern), who knows certain facts, since she overheard some of her father’s conversations. He learns of a woman named Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) , and decides to hide in her home to spy on her and gather what information he can. This is just the start of a series of unusual, baffling, graphic, and disturbing events Jeffrey will encounter, and things only become more cloudy around every turn.
I’ll say right up front that I like this movie a lot, due in part to my inclinations toward unusual cinema, no doubt. As with any movie that tests the limits of film, this film will not appeal to everyone out there, so if you have to see movies where everything is spelled out for you, rent The Sixth Sense again. Those of you who can handle some fresh techniques in movies, this is one film you will not want to miss. The concept is not a new one, with a small town that seems nice and perfect harboring evil and darkness. But it’s not that simple, and the writing makes sure the film stays on a fresh path at all times, which keeps things interesting and sometimes unnerving even. This is a deep and complex film, one that you can watch over and over, yet find something new each time, and I think that’s a rare quality in modern films. As I mentioned above, this is an unusual and sometimes disturbing film, so if you’re more into mainstream films, a rental might be a good idea. I recommend this movie to all fans of offbeat cinema and since MGM has served up this Special Edition, it is more than worth a purchase to those interested.
This film was written and directed by David Lynch, who has a gift for unusual cinema as well as a very loyal following of fans for those movies. Keeping in line with most of Lynch’s other films, Blue Velvet has some strange sequences within it, but everything seems to make sense by the end credits. Lynch uses some subtle touches in this film, such as the small details that focus on the innocence of the small town, and then seems to conk you on the head with much more obvious stuff, which keeps you off balance, a desired outcome I’m sure. Lynch’s work is for everyone, but if you like this movie, make sure also watch Eraserhead, Wild At Heart, and The Elephant Man. The cast for this movie is centered on a few major characters and one central character, so there’s plenty of people to keep your eyes on here. The central role is played by Kyle MacLachlan (Showgirls, The Flintstones), who is good in his part, although he sometimes stumbles and gets drowned out by his costars. The other major roles are played by Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider, Waterworld), Isabella Rossellini (Fearless, Immortal Beloved), and Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, October Sky). The supporting cast includes Dean Stockwell (Mr. Wrong, Air Force One), George Dickerson (Jinxed!, Space Raiders), and Hope Lange (Death Wish, I Am The Cheese).
Video: How does it look?
Blue Velvet is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Although the previous disc sported a nice looking treatment, David Lynch requested to supervise a new transfer and of course, that is most welcome. This edition looks much sharper and cleaner, but it seems like the colors have been toned down, even if just a shade or two. As a result, the film looks more natural here, as if it were a window into the real world and that could be Lynch’s intent, since the colors were a tad juiced in the earlier version. I found black levels to be razor sharp here also, so shadows look stark and bold, though detail is still visible when needed. I have no complaints with this new transfer and since Lynch himself supervised & approved it, I have to assume this is exactly how Blue Velvet is supposed to look.
Audio: How does it sound?
A new Dolby Digital 5.1 track is used here and while this material isn’t overwhelming, the film now has a much deeper, more effective audio presence. So you’ll notice some nice surround presence in some scenes, but it is more subtle in tone, the kind of audio that helps build tension and atmosphere, as opposed to making your ears bleed. But when it needs to kick in a little of a boost, it does and when compared to the audio track on the prior release, this one is head & shoulders above it, in all respects. So while the previous track was very good, this one improves upon that and proves to be even more impressive. This disc also includes Spanish and French language options, as well as subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
When I started watching Mysteries of Love, a supplement included on this disc, I had no idea it would be an in depth, highly insightful piece. This documentary clocks in at well over an hour and has all sorts of interviews, with stars, crew members, you name it and chances are, they’re involved in this one. I was thrilled with Mysteries of Love and if you have any interest in this film or Lynch’s work on the whole, you can’t afford to miss this. As the much discussed deleted scenes have yet to be uncovered, we’re given a montage of stills from the scenes, which sort of piece together what we might have seen. Not as good as having the real scenes of course, but this is still a welcome inclusion, if just to get some idea of what the scenes were about. You can even watch the At the Movies segment on Blue Velvet, in which Siskel & Ebert debate the merits of Blue Velvet, how cool is that? I know some Criterion laserdiscs used to include the Siskel & Ebert segments, but I haven’t many outside of that, so it is very nice to see one included here. This disc also includes two television spots, a selection of still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer.