HTF REVIEW: "Blue Velvet" Special Edition (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, May 17, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    Blue Velvet




    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1986
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 121 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)



    "Baby wants blue velvet"
    The first time I watched Blue Velvet was
    at a party back in the mid eighties. All that
    I remember about the movie was that I was very
    drunk and the film was very weird, despite the
    fact that my drunken party mates were howling at
    Dennis Hopper.
    [​IMG]
    I never really wanted to watch this film again
    until I discovered TWIN PEAKS. I began to
    understand the genius of Director David Lynch and
    his knack for bringing us wholesome settings
    with strange characters that inhabit them. It is
    these characters that are often repulsive, but
    nonetheless, interesting to watch....at least,
    this is my take on his work.
    [​IMG]
    Blue Velvet has been described as "An
    American Masterpiece". By all rights, it is a
    finely crafted movie filled with stylish
    photography with immense talent and attention
    to detail. On the other hand, this is certainly
    one of the most disturbing films in memory and
    I'll be damned if I still understand the film's
    ending.
    [​IMG]
    Describing how this movie begins is the easy
    part. An elderly man named Mr. Beaumont (Jack
    Harvey) is watering his lawn when he suddenly
    clutches his neck in pain and falls to the ground.
    His son, Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) visits him in
    the hospital. Returning home from his visit, he
    finds a severed human ear in a field. He brings the
    ear to his neighbor, Detective Williams (George
    Dickerson). Williams makes Jeffrey promise he
    won't pry into this matter -- but Jeffrey does anyway.
    With the help of clues he receives from William's
    daughter Sandy (Laura Dern), Jeffrey sneaks into
    the apartment of nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens
    (Isabella Rosselini). While hiding in her closet,
    he witnesses a visitor named Frank Booth (Dennis
    Hopper), a sick, violent and extremely dangerous
    man who loves sadistic sex. Jefferey thinks there
    is a connection with all these people and decides
    to take a dangerous risk and investigate this matter
    on his own.
    [​IMG]
    In very much the same style of TWIN PEAKS, we are
    introduced to a wholesome, innocent town that
    harbors deep dark secrets. The film starts off
    interestingly enough and manages to draw us into
    a mystery that unfolds before our eyes. Suddenly,
    however, it seems like we are thrown into a world
    full of freak show characters and an ending that
    doesn't quite explain itself.
    Still, I walked away from this viewing with
    a sort of appreciation for what I had just seen,
    despite the fact that I feel this movie was only
    meant to be understood by the Director himself.
    How is the transfer?
    I was disappointed in this new digital transfer
    that was supervised by David Lynch. I don't know
    how this film looked theatrically, but on DVD, it
    doesn't impress.
    While the outdoor shots are very clear, the
    colors seem faded. Shots of indoor scenes
    inside Dorothy Vallen's apartment look too soft
    and muddy. Flesh tones run overly red, and there
    is a noticeable amount of grain in the picture.
    The 5.1 audio mix is also very disappointing.
    While dialogue remains firmly in the center channel,
    I could not hear any surround activity whatsoever
    throughout the film. Later, I actually put my ear
    up to the rear speaker and heard background
    information being sent, but the volume of it is
    so low that it was never clarified over the volume
    of the front sound stage.
    I realize that this is a brand new transfer, and
    perhaps not seeing any previous transfers on former
    formats may hinder my review. Perhaps this is the
    best the film has ever looked on any format -- but
    to be honest, compared to other remastered films
    from this era, I just was not impressed by the
    overall presentation.
    Special Features
    [​IMG]
    As with other recent MGM Special Edition titles,
    Blue Velvet comes packaged in an attractive
    slipcase cover. The cover mimics the exact artwork
    on the actual DVD cover.
    [​IMG]&mbsp;[​IMG]
    The DVD begins with an animated menu with scrolling
    BLUE VELVET lettering and a small horizontal bar
    that shows windows of scenes from the film.
    [​IMG]
    Mysteries Of Love is an all-new documentary
    that is broken down into 8 chapters. Origins
    introduces us to Director and screenwriter, David
    Lynch who describes how the film started with
    Bobby Vinton's song. An idea came to him about
    doing a mystery that took place in a small city.
    Four drafts and several years later, a script was
    ready. Kyle MacLachlan recalls the first meeting
    with David Lynch, shortly after DUNE. After reading
    the script, he was just amazed by its energy. We
    learn that Dino DeLaurentis did not want to make
    the film at its $10 million budget, so Lynch agreed
    to take a pay cut and gain full artistic control in
    order to make this film. The entire cast is
    reassembled here, talking about their involvement
    with the film. Most interesting is Dennis Hopper,
    who explains he had just come out of rehab when he
    was offered the part. His agent advised him against
    taking the part, as it was not a redeeming role.
    Dennis took the role, and the rest is history. In
    The Eagle Scout, we meet the painter who
    became a film Director, David Lynch. Cast members
    and film cinematographer talk about his unique
    vision and the worlds he creates. In Goin'
    Down to Lumberton, we go to North Carolina
    and on location as cast members talk about the
    challenges they had filming the movie. Kyle
    Maclachlan nervously reminisces about having to
    drop his shorts in front of Isabella Rossellini
    while she held a knife to him. Isabella and
    Dennis Hopper recall the scene where Dorothy
    Vallens shows Frank Booth her vagina -- and trust
    me, the scene was done without panties being worn.
    Hey, Neighbor compares the similarities of
    character Jeffrey Beaumont to Director David Lynch.
    After all, many have stated that this film is part
    autobiography. This segment mainly deals with
    putting the characters under a microscope with each
    actor (Maclachlan, Rosselini, Hopper and Dern)
    dissecting their characteristics. Dust Bunnies
    further explores the creative mind of David Lynch,
    and his obsessiveness to detail. It's interesting
    to listen to cinematographer Frederick Elmes describe
    how the colors embedded in every character's home
    was a reflection of that character's personality.
    In Softer Than Satin, we are introduced to
    film composer Angelo Badalamenti who talks about the
    challenges of using Bobby Vinton's song in the
    soundtrack. Isabella recalls her working with Angelo
    in getting the tone of the song down just right.
    Uncommon Sounds acquaints us with the late
    Alan Splet, who was the sound designer on the film.
    His signature sound is one of the most important
    elements in the film, including the journey into
    the severed ear, and insects gnawing beneath the
    grass's soil. Legacy explores the post
    release phenomenon of the film. Though the film
    was not initially well received, it eventually rode
    a word-of-mouth wave that made it a "must see" film.
    Much of David Lynch's original cut of the film
    was trimmed down to its final theatrical version.
    The scenes that were cut have been lost forever,
    but, in a deleted scenes montage, the lost
    scenes have been reconstructed using surviving
    publicity stills. There is a phone call made by
    Jeffrey at a college; Jeffrey visiting the hospital;
    Jeffrey having coffee with Mrs. Williams; A scene
    with Dorothy and Jeffrey on the rooftop; a bar room
    sequence with Frank Booth and the film's epilogue.
    (length: approx. 10 minutes)
    [​IMG]
    Something I would love to see more of, is the
    inclusion of critic reaction to the film. What
    better critics to include than Siskel and Ebert.
    Their short 1985 televised review is included on
    this DVD.
    There are dozens of Photo Gallery pictures
    included on this DVD. Most of them are production
    stills taken on location, including some great shots
    of gruesome makeup being applied to the actors for
    the gore scenes. Photographer Peter Braatz provides
    some very rare black & white "on location" shots.
    The film's original theatrical trailer as
    well as two television spots are included
    on this disc.
    Final Thoughts
    Without having seen any former incarnations of
    Blue Velvet on a home video format, I don't
    know if this transfer is the best the film has
    looked. I was just a bit disappointed by both
    the video and audio quality.
    I must also admit that while I was mesmerized
    by this movie, I can't say that I am was truly
    as inspired by it as I was by TWIN PEAKS. Perhaps
    it's the fact that Blue Velvet goes way over
    the top in its shock value.
    While I agree that this is a film that everyone
    must experience in their lifetime, the choice of
    purchasing this title is only recommended to those
    familiar with the film. To its fans, the added
    material is worth the purchase alone. To newcomers,
    may I suggest renting it first.
    Release Date: June 4, 2002
     
  2. Aryn Leroux

    Aryn Leroux Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review Ron. This is my alltime favorite Lynch film. I sold off the previous dvd release a few weeks back and i look forward to picking up the SE on June 4th.
     
  3. Anthony Thorne

    Anthony Thorne Supporting Actor

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    I think (but can't be sure) that BLUE VELVET has always looked a little muddy. Older LD and VHS transfers represented this fairly prominently, from memory. The extras sound good and I'm a fan of the movie (probably more so than I am of TWIN PEAKS, which I encountered later and viewed as something of a rip-off of the atmosphere and surrealism established by Lynch in VELVET) so I'll be happy to get this disc. I hope WILD AT HEART joins it on the shelf someday.
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I would like to add to my review that

    this transfer was supervised by David Lynch.

    I have been informed by MGM that the way

    this film looks and sounds is the way that

    Mr. Lynch wanted it.
     
  5. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Yep, the interior shots in the film have always been a bit muddy. Anyway, thanks for the review. Time to upgrade again!
     
  6. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

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    Thanks for the review. I love Lynch's films, and BLUE VELVET is one of my favorites of his work, so I can't wait to pick up this disc! Dennis Hopper is perfect in this film!
     
  7. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    Can't wait. I hope DVD editions of Lost Highway and Wild at Heart are not far behind.

    Can someone remind me-what was Siskel's reaction to the film? I know Ebert famously hated it, but did Siskel like it?
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Siskel did like the film.
     
  9. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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    Those screenshots from the film are WAAAAY too dark!

    That is definitely NOT how the film looks in the cinema or in previous video formats (VHS/LD/DVD)

    Something wrong with your DVD-Rom, Ron?
     
  10. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

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    I never sold my dvd of this title when the new dvd was announced and don't plan on it. I'm quite happy how the original dvd looks. I will rent this new version to take a look at the supplements. I'm just a bit sick of replacing titles all the time and this is the dvd where I draw the line. It doesn't sound as if there is a drastic improvement in the video.
     
  11. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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  12. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    I saw the film when it was first released in cinemas and it looked great - sharp and bright. I don't understand why every home video format version has looked so bad. One problem is that it seems to have passed through vaious different distributors and I suspect original elements may have been unavailable or mislaid.
     
  13. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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  14. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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    Today on NPR's "Fresh Air" Terry Gross is going to interview Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini and talk about this new DVD of BV!
    http://freshair.npr.org/
     
  15. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I thought the previous DVD release was very serviceable and certainly better than my old VHS dub! I traded it away after I heard that an SE was announced, but I seem to recall some fairly vivid colors and at least some degree of surround activity. I would think that there's been quite a bit of tweaking since then, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was transferred a tad darker and more subdued.

    What's got me salivating, however, are the "Mysteries of Love" documentary (yes!!!) and the deleted scene reconstruction (which sounds a little like the "Behzin Meadow" reconstruction on Criterion's Eisenstein Boxset). Both of these extras, especially the former, look to be fantastic!
     
  16. Enrique B Chamorro

    Enrique B Chamorro Supporting Actor

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    Does the SE have chapter stops?
     
  17. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    Enrique,

    Look at the screenshots. On the menu screen, it says "Scene Selections."
     
  18. Enrique B Chamorro

    Enrique B Chamorro Supporting Actor

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    I had the original disc and it had chapter stops.

    The review notes 8 chapters for the documentary,

    I just wanted to make sure the Scene Selections

    was for the movie and not for the documentary.

    With Mulholland Drive and The Straight Story having

    zero chapters stops per Mr. Lynch, I was concerned

    about the new edition of Blue Velvet.

    I would still like to know how many chapters

    Blue Velvet will be broken up into?
     
  19. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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    Wow, I guess I does look like the film itself may have chapter stops.

    Ron, is that true? I wonder if that was Lynch's idea.
     
  20. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    MGM may not have offered him the choice. I don't guess I understand the infatuation with chapter stops.
    I can't wait for this. I haven't seen this film in a long while, and it'll be my first viewing as an unofficial Lynch fan. [​IMG]
     

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