Blue Velvet: Special Edition
David Lynch's disturbing, sensual, sickly funny masterwork Blue Velvet (1986) follows college student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), who's returned to his home town when his father is hospitalized after a heart attack. Walking through a field near his home, Jeffrey finds a severed human ear. He takes it to a police detective who lives in his neighborhood (George Dickerson) and meets the detective's teenage daughter, Sandy (Laura Dern). Curious about the ear, Jeffrey enlists Sandy to help him investigate and the two discover that the ear belongs to the kidnapped husband of a nightclub singer named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini); Dorothy's husband and young son have been kidnapped by a man named Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), who's holding them, it appears, as a way to to control Dorothy, whom he brutalizes sexually. The deeper Jeffrey digs into the mystery, the closer he becomes to both Sandy and Dorothy and eventually finds he's gotten in over his head, his adventure culminating with a terrifying late-night "joy ride" with Frank and his minions, and a violent, disturbing resolution. Blue Velvet is such a unsettling film because of the way Lynch keeps the viewer in a constant state of anxiety. We experience everything through Jeffrey, accepting at face value that he's a good, clean, lad who just wants to try his hand at a little Hardy Boys sleuthing. But once we've identified with him, Jeffrey turns out to be a voyeur with a hankering towards the perverse, torn between Dorothy, who demands Jeffrey's help yet refuses to go to the police, and who's discovered that she actually likes Frank's kinky violence and Sandy, the "good girl" who first appears to Jeffreys out of the darkness, emerging into a warm bath of light, and who shares her dream where " thousands of robins were set free, and they flew down and brought this Blinding Light of Love." The more over his head Jeffrey finds himself, giving in to Dorothy's demands of "hit me" as foreplay and spying on Frank's creepy warehouse headquarters, the more we squirm because, unlike conventional movie mysteries, we don't know for sure that Jeffrey will save the day and choose the nice girl; like Jeffrey, we're in completely unfamiliar territory, a dark place where bad people don't make any sense, ears can get cut off for no explicable reason, and sex is as grotesque as it is erotic. Whether you embrace it or reject it, Blue Velvet is an amazing picture, intimate, surreal, true and distinctive, and one of the very best American films of the 1980s. MGM's DVD release of Blue Velvet: Special Edition is a great package, offering a stunning new digital anamorphic widescreen (2:35:1) transfer supervised by David Lynch and room-filling Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Extras include the 70-minute, eight-chapter "Mysteries of Love" documentary offering new interviews with MacLachlan, Rossellini, Dern, Hopper, and others; a fascinating "Deleted Scenes Montage" with still photos taken during production; a quick Siskel and Ebert review from 1987; an extensive photo gallery; and the theatrical trailer and two TV spots. The package also lists a "collectible booklet," but it's really just a standard insert with a few brief notes. Atypically for a Lynch film on DVD, chapter selection is offered. Keep-case in a glossy slipcover.
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