A retrospective look at the timeless genius of Blue Velvet
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In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Blue Velvet will be re-released in cinemas again, to give audiences the oppurtunity to witness Lynch's masterpiece on the big screen.
In 1986, David Lynch released Blue Velvet, aiming to create a strange and mystical film, infused with something that everyone could enjoy, cultivating the surrealism of Eraserhead with the dramatic and hard-hitting undertones of The Elephant Man and The Straight Story. Through creating a reclusive psycho-sexual thriller that defied the boundaries of modern cinematic law, Lynch befuddled audiences and tantalised cinephiles. Blue Velvet remains a terrific modern American classic.
There is no doubt that fans of the film are fully aware of its madness, but it is how this madness is crafted and woven into a seemingly standard mystery that makes Blue Velvet really special. Opening with the idyllic, white-picket fenced Lumberton while Bobby Vinton’s track seeps through, followed almost immediately by an elderly man having a heart attack. Lynch completely subverts the normaility of small-town life into a whirlwind of sex, violence and mystery, similar to that of Twin Peaks.
Kyle MacLachlan, who would go on to be a Lynch regular, starring in Twin Peaks amongst others, stars as Jeffery Beaumont, who, upon discovering an ear missing its owner in the middle of a field, becomes entangled in a plot involving a singer and a mad man. MacLachlan is surrounded by an incredible supporting cast: Isabella Rossellini plays a broken, fragile woman, trying to find resolution and peace, while Dennis Hopper is insane, gas-huffing megalomaniac Frank Booth, who encompasses the film’s darkest and most mesmerising moments. As the romantic interest and side-kick, Sandy Williams (Laura Dern, another Lynch favourite) joins the side of Jeffery as he tries to uncover the mysteries.
Blue Velvet aimed to shock, and succeeded. Subjecting audiences with imagery that sticks, Lynch has never been afraid to use cinematic techniques that only increase the impact of the disturbing events that are frequent throughout. Riddled with obscurities, the first viewing welcomes confusion, although multiple viewings assist in uncovering subtleties and symbolism, along with greater understanding and appreciation.
A mantra incorporated into the film’s dialogue is to accept and embrace, the strange, weird world we live in. Not only does this justify the characters’ acceptance and normality within ridiculous situations, but this also transgresses into the viewer's subconscious, coming to accept the weird and non-sensical nature of the events unfolding before them, enabling an allowance to relax and enjoy. Allowing space for an audience not finely-tuned to identifying and understanding visual metaphors and surrealist imagery, to embrace a venture into an amplification of our weird and mysterious existence, rather than rejecting it.
In 2016, Blue Velvet can still achieve everything it did in 1986. Not only proving that Lynch’s work doesn’t rely on a social consciousness, but that it is ignorant of time and embracive of audience. The level of talent, passion and obscurity determines the film a masterpiece, one that will be discovered and inspire for years to come.
Blue Velvet is re-released in UK cinemas on the 2nd of December.