(1986, Dir. David Lynch)
I was driven to revisit this film again after returning from a vacation near Wilmington, NC, where this movie was filmed. As we were leaving, I read in the local paper that the city was acknowledging the 20-year anniversary of its original release and revealed some of the locales featured in the movie. So, feeling nostalgic, I returned home, and dusted off my old VHS – which was actually the first VHS I’d ever owned. In fact, Blue Velvet really is the film that opened my eyes to new cinema as an impressionable teen.
I caught up with this movie around ’88 or ’89, and was struck by the oddity and violence as much as Dennis Hopper’s wild portrayal of bad guy Frank Booth. The nightmarish qualities, such as a Rear Window-style rape scene, hold up well, but Lynch’s overindulgence with light versus dark suburban fantasy gets darn silly (i.e., the dream of the robins sequence). Still, the movie is visually stunning and weirdly captivating, from the undulating blue curtains behind the titles to an extreme closeup of a hacked-off human ear (which beat Reservoir Dogs to the punch by a full six years). It remains one of Lynch’s strongest and most unique offerings, which helped pave the way for his oddball TV series Twin Peaks, featuring a dead homecoming queen, a dancing midget who talked backwards, lots of beautiful trees and damn fine coffee.
What struck me most is how much I need to replace my worn, non-letterboxed VHS copy with the widescreen DVD. I’d completely forgotten how irritating pan-and-scan was to watch.
Happy 20th, BV. It truly is a strange world.