VHS VIDEO! Blue Velvet! David Lynch peeks behind the picket fences of small-town America to reveal a corrupt shadow world of malevolence, sadism, and madness. From the opening shots Lynch turns the Technicolor picture postcard images of middle class homes and tree-lined lanes into a dreamy vision on the edge of nightmare. After his father collapses in a preternaturally eerie sequence, college boy Kyle MacLachlan returns home and stumbles across a severed human ear in a vacant lot. With the help of sweetly innocent high school girl (Laura Dern), he turns junior detective and uncovers a frightening yet darkly compelling world of voyeurism and sex. Drawn deeper into the brutal world of drug dealer and blackmailer Frank, played with raving mania by an obscenity-shouting Dennis Hopper in a career-reviving performance, he loses his innocence and his moral bearings when confronted with pure, unexplainable evil. Isabella Rossellini is terrifyingly desperate as Hopper's sexual slave who becomes MacLachlan's illicit lover, and Dean Stockwell purrs through his role as Hopper's oh-so-suave buddy. Lynch strips his surreally mundane sets to a ghostly austerity, which composer Angelo Badalamenti encourages with the smooth, spooky strains of a lush score. Blue Velvet is a disturbing film that delves into the darkest reaches of psycho-sexual brutality and simply isn't for everyone. But for a viewer who wants to see the cinematic world rocked off its foundations, David Lynch delivers a nightmarish masterpiece. --Sean AxmakerAmazon.com
David Lynch peeks behind the picket fences of small-town America to reveal a corrupt shadow world of malevolence, sadism, and madness. From the opening shots Lynch turns the Technicolor picture postcard images of middle class homes and tree-lined lanes into a dreamy vision on the edge of nightmare. After his father collapses in a preternaturally eerie sequence, college boy Kyle MacLachlan returns home and stumbles across a severed human ear in a vacant lot. With the help of sweetly innocent high school girl (Laura Dern), he turns junior detective and uncovers a frightening yet darkly compelling world of voyeurism and sex. Drawn deeper into the brutal world of drug dealer and blackmailer Frank, played with raving mania by an obscenity-shouting Dennis Hopper in a career-reviving performance, he loses his innocence and his moral bearings when confronted with pure, unexplainable evil. Isabella Rossellini is terrifyingly desperate as Hopper's sexual slave who becomes MacLachlan's illicit lover, and Dean Stockwell purrs through his role as Hopper's oh-so-suave buddy. Lynch strips his surreally mundane sets to a ghostly austerity, which composer Angelo Badalamenti encourages with the smooth, spooky strains of a lush score. Blue Velvet is a disturbing film that delves into the darkest reaches of psycho-sexual brutality and simply isn't for everyone. But for a viewer who wants to see the cinematic world rocked off its foundations, David Lynch delivers a nightmarish masterpiece. --Sean Axmaker ... Read more
Customer Reviews (272)
I thought this dark drama by David Lynch was worth renting...once. It has a dark humor to it. Star studded cast.
Strange but great film
The film opens with artful visuals of a white picket fence, red roses planted beside the fence, and a clear blue sky.Red, white and blue--the symbols of a quiet, small, middle class town in America.A fire truck with a dalmation dog standing on its side slowly passes by.The town's name is Lumberton.Its state is not mentioned.This can be any place in America.But lurking in small town America, hidden in some grass, is someone's severed ear, being brutally attacked by insects.
The ear is discovered by college student Jeffrey Beaumont, well played by Kyle MacLachlin.Jeffrey is home from college because his father has suffered a stroke and been hospitalized.Up to this point, Jeffrey has been the product of small town Lumberton.He is naive and very inexperienced in the evil side of life.So is the young and pretty "teen angel," Sandy, as played by Laura Dern.Sandy is the daughter of the town's chief police detective.They meet, fall in love, and become involved in the investigation of the crime of the severed ear.
Jeffrey learns that the ear belongs to the husband of lounge singer, Dorothy Vallens, who together with their little son, have been abducted by an evil, psychopathic maniac, with the name of Frank Booth.Dennis Hopper gives an extremely frightening, over-the-top performance as Frank Booth.He is the ultimate villain of such hatefulness and repulsiveness, that one cannot stand to look at him.Ironically enough, Frank Booth clearly sends out signals of vile hatred whenever anyone should look at him.Dorothy is played by Isabella Rosselini, a beautiful, mysterious, and seemingly very masochistic femme fatale. Jeffrey has never experienced anyone like Dorothy and is instantly captivated. Dorothy also happens to be Frank Booth's sex-slave. Mesmerized by her, Jeffrey has become Dorothy's protector and lover.
"Blue Velvet" is a film of great magnetism and intensity.After the first few minutes of watching it, I was hooked.Together with its moments of extreme violence and sadism, as well as its brief moments of "comic relief" (particularly a couple of scenes with Dean Stockwell as Frank Booth's "suave" friend) "Blue Velvet," is one of my favorite all time films.At least in my opinion, it is also one of the truly great movies of the last third of the 20th century.
"Blue Velvet" contains scenes of such raw emotional energy that it's easy to understand why some critics have hailed it as a
...masterpiece. A film this painful and wounding has to be given special consideration.
And yet those very scenes of stark sexual despair are the tipoff to what's wrong with the movie. They're so strong that they deserve to be in a movie that is sincere, honest and true. But "Blue Velvet" surrounds them with a story that's marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots. The director is either denying the strength of his material or trying to defuse it by pretending it's all part of a campy in-joke.
The movie has two levels of reality. On one level, we're in Lumberton, a simple-minded small town where people talk in television cliches and seem to be clones of 1950s sitcom characters. On another level, we're told a story of sexual bondage, of how Isabella Rossellini's husband and son have been kidnapped by Dennis Hopper, who makes her his sexual slave. The twist is that the kidnapping taps into the woman's deepest feelings: She finds that she is a masochist who responds with great sexual passion to this situation.
Everyday town life is depicted with a deadpan irony; characters use lines with corny double meanings and solemnly recite platitudes.
Meanwhile, the darker story of sexual bondage is told absolutely on the level in cold-blooded realism.
The movie begins with a much praised sequence in which picket fences and flower beds establish a small-town idyll. Then a man collapses while watering the lawn, and a dog comes to drink from the hose that is still held in his unconscious grip. The great imagery continues as the camera burrows into the green lawn and finds hungry insects beneath - a metaphor for the surface and buried lives of the town.
The man's son, a college student (Kyle MacLachlan), comes home to visit his dad's bedside and resumes a romance with the daughter (Laura Dern) of the local police detective. MacLachlan finds a severed human ear in a field, and he and Dern get involved in trying to solve the mystery of the ear. The trail leads to a nightclub singer (Rossellini) who lives alone in a starkly furnished flat.
In a sequence that Hitchcock would have been proud of, MacLachlan hides himself in Rossellini's closet and watches, shocked, as she has a sadomashochistic sexual encounter with Hopper, a drug-sniffing pervert.
Hopper leaves. Rossellini discovers MacLachlan in the closet and, to his astonishment, pulls a knife on him and forces him to submit to her seduction. He is appalled but fascinated; she wants him to be a "bad boy" and hit her.
These sequences have great power. They make "9 1/2 Weeks" look rather timid by comparison, because they do seem genuinely born from the darkest and most despairing side of human nature. If "Blue Velvet" had continued to develop its story in a straight line, if it had followed more deeply into the implications of the first shocking encounter between Rossellini and MacLachlan, it might have made some real emotional discoveries.
Instead, director David Lynch chose to interrupt the almost hypnotic pull of that relationship in order to pull back to his jokey, small-town satire. Is he afraid that movie audiences might not be ready for stark S & M unless they're assured it's all really a joke? I was absorbed and convinced by the relationship between Rossellini and MacLachlan, and annoyed because the director kept placing himself between me and the material. After five or 10 minutes in which the screen reality was overwhelming, I didn't need the director prancing on with a top hat and cane, whistling that it was all in fun.
Indeed, the movie is pulled so violently in opposite directions that it pulls itself apart. If the sexual scenes are real, then why do we need the sendup of the "Donna Reed Show"? What are we being told? That beneath the surface of Small Town, U.S.A., passions run dark and dangerous? Don't stop the presses.
The sexual material in "Blue Velvet" is so disturbing, and the performance by Rosellini is so convincing and courageous, that it demands a movie that deserves it. American movies have been using satire for years to take the edge off sex and violence. Occasionally, perhaps sex and violence should be treated with the seriousness they deserve. Given the power of the darker scenes in this movie, we're all the more frustrated that the director is unwilling to follow through to the consequences of his insights.
"Blue Velvet" is like the guy who drives you nuts by hinting at horrifying news and then saying, "Never mind." There's another thing. Rossellini is asked to do things in this film that require real nerve. In one scene, she's publicly embarrassed by being dumped naked on the lawn of the police detective. In others, she is asked to portray emotions that I imagine most actresses would rather not touch. She is degraded, slapped around, humiliated and undressed in front of the camera. And when you ask an actress to endure those experiences, you should keep your side of the bargain by putting her in an important film.
That's what Bernardo Bertolucci delivered when he put Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider through the ordeal of "Last Tango in Paris." In "Blue Velvet," Rossellini goes the whole distance, but Lynch distances himself from her ordeal with his clever asides and witty little in-jokes. In a way, his behavior is more sadistic than the Hopper character.
What's worse? Slapping somebody around, or standing back and finding the whole thing funny?
Still Powerful Film-making
I had first seen Blue Velvet in the theater when it first came out. I was confused, disturbed and, yet, inexplicably mesmerized by it. There was nothing around like it. Nowadays, film-makers try to challenge us with "innovative" cuts, digital manipulation, gratuitous sex and over-the-top characterizations.
What makes Blue Velvet still worth viewing (for those who can stomach it) is its very "conventional" film technique and character/plot development which still manages to produce a disturbing and inexplicably mesmerizing experience. I'm less confused now but much more appreciative of David Lynch's film-making. It's all pretty tightly done. Once you get through Dennis Hopper's unforgettable portrayal of a Frank Booth -- realistic and demonic -- you'll wonder why he does those bland commercials now.
Lynch's best film
I'm not exactly a David Lynch fan as such; I think some of his films are too self-consciously "difficult" for their own good. But 'Blue Velvet' is definitely a personal favourite. Perhaps it's because this is one of Lynch's more straightforward works; its narrative is linear, and no characters change into a different person or become possessed by a demon halfway through the film. Of course, "straightforward" for David Lynch is still very dark and twisted. 'Blue Velvet' is an unsettling and often surreal film that explores the typical Lynch theme of a dark underworld lurking beneath a seemingly ideal community.
Even if you don't like his films, you must concede that Lynch always gets strong and interesting performances out of his actors. Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern are perfect as the wholesome all-American young couple, with MacLachlan's Beaumont equally believable as the naive innocent at the beginning of the film and the more morally ambiguous character he becomes. Isabella Rossellini is surprisingly effective as the battered victim-yet-femme-fatale Dorothy, while Dean Stockwell's memorable cameo as Ben almost steals the show. The real star, of course, is Dennis Hopper, who gives an intensely disturbing performance as the obscene gas-inhaling psychopath Frank Booth. Frank is terrifying because he's completely amoral; he is capable of literally anything and in Lynch's hands you never know what the next "anything" will be. The surreal tone of the film adds to the unease by giving several scenes (especially involving Frank) a very unreal, other-worldly quality. The term "nightmarish" is over-used, but the combination of the violent and the bizzare really does make 'Blue Velvet' feel like a nightmare, or perhaps a very twisted S&M fantasy.
As with many Lynch films, 'Blue Velvet' is difficult to categorise. It has elements of mystery, drama, film noir, and even black comedy (there's some surprisingly effective dark humour here, despite the intensity). Although not as difficult as some of his later films such as 'Lost Highway', this is still a very confronting and challenging piece of work, and is certainly not for everybody. But if Lynch's twisted all-American vision sounds like your thing, 'Blue Velvet' is probably the best place to start before tackling some of his even more experimental films.
... Read more