Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern
It's a strange world.
Nominated for Best Director.
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Surround 2.0
Italian DTS 5.1
Castillian DTS 5.1
German DTS 5.1
Runtime: 121 min.
Release Date: 11/8/2011
• “Mysteries of Love” Documentary
• Newly-Discovered Lost Footage
• Original “Siskel and Ebert” Review
• “A Few Outtakes”
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Blue Velvet [Blu-Ray] (1986)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 8, 2011)
At this point in my life I guess I'll just have to concede that I don't particularly get the appeal of Blue Velvet, David Lynch's cult classic from 1986. I've seen it a few times over the years and always wanted to like it but never could quite get into it. Why not? I don't know. It seems like the kind of film I should enjoy. It's often dark, it's creepy, it's perverse - those are all right up my alley! Unfortunately, there's something about it that just doesn't gel for me.
Velvet focuses on life in quiet Lumberton, a Northwest logging town that seems like the model of civil tranquility. One day the father of Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) suffers a medical emergency and becomes hospitalized. Jeffrey returns from college to help out and discovers a human ear discarded in a field. He turns this in to police Detective Williams (George Dickerson), and he then becomes involved with Williams’ daughter Sandy (Laura Dern), who overhears some info about the case.
Jeffrey gets very interested in this unraveling mystery, and he decides to play detective along with Sandy’s help. Soon he discovers the involvement of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a trouble nightclub chanteuse, and from there he gets deeper and deeper into the seedy and perverse underbelly of this seemingly idyllic world.
I’ve seen Velvet at least five or six times over the years, but it continues to leave me cold. Maybe it's because I felt the attempts to be dark, creepy and perverse seemed too obvious. Let me temper that statement: no, I don't mean that the occurrences we see are predictable or cliché; there's definitely some unusual stuff going on here. However, most of it felt like Lynch tried to be dark for dark's sake, from the not-so-hidden symbolism of the insects below ground we see early in the film to a character’s creepy rendering of a Roy Orbison tune.
It seems that the "evil underneath the surface" aspect of Velvet has received much praise, but I think it's tremendously overrated. This is supposed to be news that a lot of nasty things happen behind what appear to be perfect exteriors? Such a concept long ago lost any ability to shock or startle, and I didn't think anything here proved to be very provocative.
Maybe I'm just jaded, but I didn't think much of the depravity in Velvet seemed terribly shocking. Again, too much of it came off as "play acting" and lacked the realism that would have an impact on me. Lynch's world is just a little too far out there for me to accept it. I won't argue whether or not characters such as those seen in the movie exist, but the entire setting just comes across as artificial and contrived.
Since I often like to see what others think, I checked out other opinions of Velvet. I was especially curious to see these since I knew I didn’t follow the usual line of thought. The most common threads I discovered were those that found the film intense and especially cited the performance of Dennis Hopper as baddie Frank Booth in this regard. I didn't feel that either of these perceptions held true for me. I didn't find the action of Velvet to be harrowing or Hopper's performance to seem especially evil just because of the comic aspect of the material. Too much of it came across as perversely funny to really seem creepy or scary.
Booth is such an odd creature with his omnipresent gas mask and his sexual perversions that I couldn't help but laugh most of the time; that character and much of the rest of the film appeared far too amusing to get under my skin. An effeminate Dean Stockwell all done up and lip-synching Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" is supposed to spook me? The opposite reaction occurred.
So I guess I'll have to stay on the outside of the great cult of Blue Velvet fans. Pity me if you must, but 25 years down the road, I'm no closer to understanding this movie's appeal than I was when it originally appeared. It's a generally interesting effort, but I don't see it as anything particularly noteworthy.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+ / Audio B / Bonus B+
Blue Velvet appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though this was a decent image, it rarely seemed particularly strong.
Sharpness was a bit erratic. At best, the movie looked tight and well-defined, but occasional instances of softness occurred. I got the impression the picture had been processed a bit, as it lacked great detail. Still, it usually offered adequate to positive definition. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and I saw no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws led to the most significant issues here, as little specks cropped up quite frequently throughout the movie. While they weren’t oppressive, they did appear more frequently than I’d like.
Colors appeared pretty good, which was important for a film with such a wide and bright palette such as this. From the bright reds of the roses at the start to the blues of the titular velvet, all the hues looked fairly rich and vivid. Black levels were a bit flat, as they seemed somewhat mushy, and shadow detail was erratic; low-light shots offered decent clarity but the inkiness of the blacks made them seem less than stellar. I wasn’t displeased by the image, but it lacked great clarity and delineation.
I felt more consistently pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, which provided a good forward soundfield. The presentation seemed fairly broad and engaging, with nice stereo imaging for music and a reasonably wide range of effects elements. These showed nice localization and moved around the room well.
On the other hand, the surrounds seemed fairly passive. They contributed moderate ambience and music but didn’t have a ton to do. That was fine, as this wasn’t a movie that required active surrounds; they added some reinforcement in a satisfying manner.
Audio quality seemed positive. Dialogue sounded distinct and reasonably natural; some iffy looping occurred, but most of the lines integrated fine. Music seemed clear and reasonably rich, and effects offered fairly good clarity and accuracy. This wasn’t a killer soundtrack, but it worked fine for the material.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the 2002 Special Edition DVD? Audio showed a surprising improvement; I didn’t expect much growth from it, but the DTS track came across as cleaner and more engaging.
Visuals also demonstrated improvements, but they weren’t dazzling. The Blu-ray looked tighter and more distinctive, but it still had the same pattern of print flaws, and other concerns cropped up along the way. The Blu-ray was the superior presentation but it wasn’t great.
This release mixes old and new supplements. We start with a documentary entitled Mysteries of Love. In addition to 1987 clips with Lynch and sound designer Alan Splet - who died in 1994 - we find more recent comments from producer Fred Caruso, cinematographer Frederick Elmes, editor Dwayne Dunham, composer Angelo Badalamenti, and actors Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini, and Dennis Hopper.
The one-hour, 10-minute, 45-second show covers a terrific amount of information. We learn about the movie’s roots and how the actors were cast and then move through Lynch’s early influences and education, what it’s like to work with the director, anecdotes from the set, the real Lumberton, set design, character development, creating the music, reactions to the flick, and much more. I think the documentary provides too many movie snippets, and the footage from the set isn’t terribly useful, but the interviews seem uniformly excellent, even without new participation from Lynch. “Mysteries of Love” is a very fine piece of work.
Under Newly Discovered Lost Footage, we see 51 minutes, 42 seconds of material. These will be of huge interest to the film’s big fans, as I believe it’s the first time any actual deleted scenes have been released. The last DVD had a “montage” that simply showed photos from the cut sequences, so it was less than useful,
Here we see real, actual, honest-to-God deleted scenes – 13 of them. Most of them are fairly brief, but we get three extended sequences. One lets us see Jeffrey at college before he returns home to Lumberton, and it also shows him with his family prior to his introduction in the final film. Another long segment shows Jeffrey and Sandy at the club where Dorothy performs; we watch the acts the precede her. The third extended piece provides Jeffrey’s dinner with Sandy’s family and her boyfriend Mike.
While I’m sure fans will be delighted to check out this material, they shouldn’t expect greatness. These sequences were cut for a reason: they’re slow and usually pointless. Oh, it’s vaguely interesting to see more of Jeffrey’s life outside Lumberton – especially since the scene hints at his kinkier side – but it goes on far too long with far too little payoff. That’s even more true for the other two long clips; they do virtually nothing to advance the narrative, and they’re usually pretty dull, though I do kind of like the dog who eats food to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Maybe someone will find lost gold in this footage, but I think it’s all pretty weak.
A Few Outtakes last one minute, 33 seconds. This mixes blooper reel material with some alternate takes, but it’s mostly goof-ups. Because it’s surprising to see this kind of footage attached to Velvet, the reel’s a bit more amusing than usual.
For a look at then-contemporary viewpoints, we get a 1986 Siskel and Ebert At the Movies clip. During this 90-second bit, the two famed critics offer their original reviews of Velvet. Actually, it appears we only hear part of the TV segment, as the pair focus on their reactions to Rossellini’s part. Siskel supports Lynch’s treatment of the actress, while Ebert’s badly offended. It’s fun to see this little tidbit.
Under Vignettes, we find four clips. These include “I Like Coffee Shops” (0:22), “The Chicken Walk” (0:55), “The Robin” (1:33) and “Sita” (0:45). These appeared as Easter eggs on the last DVD and give us a few notes. “Shops” provides Lynch’s opinion of McDonald’s, while “Robin” delivers cinematographer Frederick Elmes’ comments about the movie’s use of that bird. “Sita” features Rossellini’s thoughts on her character and misogyny, and “Walk” gives us info from MacLachlan as he talks about his little “chicken walk” bit. These are insubstantial but enjoyable clips.
The disc ends with the movie’s theatrical trailer as well as two TV spots.
Many regard Blue Velvet as a perverse and unsettling classic. I do not, largely because little in it seemed genuinely creepy or scary to me. The Blu-ray delivers erratic visuals, good audio and a fairly solid set of supplements. Love it or hate it, Blue Velvet maintains a strong fan base, and they’ll be happy with this release, though I suspect the underwhelming picture quality will cause some disappointment.
To rate this film visit the review of the Special Edition DVD.