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Friday, November 11, 2011

"I'm seeing something that was always hidden." Blue Velvet on Blu-ray

The opening credits roll on a backdrop of blue curtains, we see (in slow motion) picket fences, vivid red fire engines, cookie cutter neighborhoods, dogs barking, children playing and sunshine bathing everything in it's warm glow, all this set to an old Bobby Vinton song.  Then, we see a man have a stroke and the camera zooms in, passing him and entering into the ground where we see beetles and bugs violently ripping, tearing and gnashing each other.  The film to which I am referring is none other than David Lynch's american masterpiece, Blue Velvet.  This film is dark and mysterious, equal parts film noir, sexual thriller and dark comedy.  The opening I described sets the theme that under the polished, happy veneer of everyday life, there is an ugliness, or sometimes violently maniacal evil lurking.  Kyle MacLachlan plays the innocent Jeffrey Beaumont, home from college because of his dad's hospitalization (the man with the stroke in the beginning).  Soon after arriving, he finds a human ear in a field near his house and decides to bring it to the police, a local detective and father of his soon-to-be-friend Sandy (played by Laura Dern), little does he know this ear is the first step down a long and dark road.  The camera even zooms in and seems to enter the ear, a loud buzzing filling the soundtrack.  Lynch uses this idea in several of his films, the idea that we are leaving the reality we know and entering into unknown territory.  With some information, Jeffrey is lead to the home of a sultry nightclub singer, Dorothy Vallens (played by Isabella Rossellini), who is an important part of the puzzle.  For some reason she has ties to a madman named Frank Booth (played with terrifying ferocity by the late Dennis Hopper), who is a sexual fiend and homicidal maniac.  The more Jeffrey is involved in Dorothy's life, the more we wonder:  Is Jeffrey just a curious young man playing detective, or is he also a pervert?  Jeffrey soon finds himself deep in an underworld he never dreamed existed, and there may be no turning back.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of the film and to commemorate this event it has been released (for the first time) on Blu-ray.  I had the opportunity to re-watch the film before writing this, it is as potent and intense, humorous and bizarre as ever.  The HD transfer looks great.  Lynch's films usually look great anyway but the higher resolution really brings out his amazing use of color, especially the many "blues" used in this film.  Also spectacular is the sound.  This film has a lot to do with sound and that aspect is played up by the wonderful HD transfer.  The special features are not bountiful, but there are a few nice bonus things added in that will excite die-hard Lynch fans.  This film was originally supposed to be 4 and a half hours long, but was cut down to just 2.  While not all the missing footage has been found, an extra 50 minutes are present on this disc.  The deleted scenes are presented as a film in and of themselves (Lynch has a way with presentation when it comes to deleted scenes), with scoring and end credits, they play like a 50 minute movie that fits in with the actual film.  It has some tv spots and trailers, a documentary, the original Siskel and Ebert review and even a few outtakes.  If you haven't seen this film, now is the perfect time to jump into the world of David Lynch, where, like in Blue Velvet, nothing is as it seems.

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