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Dennis Hopper, Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini. Lumberton, USA has some strange goings-on behind its idyllic exterior, involving a haunting nightclub singer, a murderous madman and perverse sexual intrigue. Directed by David Lynch. 1986/color/121 min/R/widescreen.
- New Digital Anamorphic Transfer Supervised by David Lynch
- "Mysteries of Love" Documentary Featuring New Interviews with Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan and Other Cast and Crew
- Archieve Interview With David Lynch
- "Are You A Pervert? Deleted Scenes Montage
- Siskel and Ebert Critical Review
- Photo Gallery
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Twin Peaks is basically a prime time 1990s television version of Blue Velvet.
After watching Twin Peaks: The Return of Dougie, I now like to think of Blue Velvet as another piece of the Twin Peaks puzzle. What if Jeffery is really Cooper and Sandy is really Diane?
Blue Velvet is a creepy, surreal film noir, full of haunting and often hilarious scenes. Just ignore the silly "romance novel" thumbnail they use for this movie; it's not that type of love story. It's nightmarish, violent, and over-the-top, but it also contains some tender, genuinely touching moments, and a happy ending in which good conquers evil.
Chances are you'll either hate it or love it.
But yeah, if you're looking for a chill movie with a paint by numbers love story, this ain't it.
The most important lines occur early in the film when the protagonist, Kyle MacLachlan, tells Laura Dern that he needs to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding Isabella Rosselli because "knowledge requires risk" but with the possible reward that "you might learn something." By the end of the narrative, MacLachlan's character should have learned a lot, but here's where Lynch flinches, much like Robert Altman in the conclusion to "The Player." MacLachlan emerges neither a sadder nor wiser man from his rite of passage and his descent into the dark corners of the psyche. Instead, Lynch commits the ultimate cynical sin, reprising the film's innocent opening and throwing in the viewer's face the hopelessly artificial, Pollyanna-ish, pastoral idyl that is most likely the preferred reality of the American mainstream movie consumer.
This is not the place for a detailed analysis of the film, though some of the following may help the viewer make sense of the narrative. Jeff confronts first mortality (his father stricken by a life-threatening stroke), then a severed, decaying human ear. The ear, the organ of hearing, is also the sense that fully awakens only in the dark, granting access to the Dionysian, the deep intuitive wellsprings of the self. But the ear we see on screen has become a diseased, useless instrument in a "sunny" culture whose idea of music is Bobby Vinton's version of "Blue Velvet." Rossellini's alternative version of the song, with all of its sensuous, alluring darkness, will draw MacLachlan in to the same degree that it repells girl friend Dern (contrast this relationship with that of Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in "Rear Window," where Kelly becomes increasingly drawn to the voyeuristic and "ghoulish" activity initiated by Stewart). Soon MacLaclan will discover the love substitutes embodied by both Rossellini and Hopper--the sadism and masochism, fetishism and scopophilia that, like it or not, are present in every son and daughter who has inherited from birth and learned from upbringing the pleasure/pain principle that underlies even the most well-intentioned, "selfless" love (the absence of any shown feelings between MacLaclan and either parent is another tip-off to the basis of his attraction to the dominitrix/sex slave character played by Rossellini).
Certainly Lynch must know, along with every other artist who has dealt with the theme, the risk along with the necessity of making touch with these feelings in order to achieve a fuller, richer, more knowing life in the time one has left. MacLaclan tells the naive and shielded Dern from the beginning that it's extremely dangerous business (think of Mann's "Death in Venice"). But the alternative is a Salem where everybody is "good," a Lumberton where people get sick but never die, a Disney fantasy that can exist only in artificial movies. Lynch may have thought he was being ironically clever by giving his viewers the "escape" they probably crave. I'd say "cowardly" is more like it. This film (in fact, most any other film since 1980) is easily eclipsed by his own "Elephant Man," where both the screenplay and the circumstances of the historical John Merrick insured the right ending. Unfortunately, someone let him write his own script for "Blue Velvet."