Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blue Velvet Blu Ray


It's been far too long since I saw David Lynch's Blue Velvet, I realise now I was waiting to see it as it should be seen, and that my friends, is via this astonishing blu ray. Featuring some of the most iconic scenes and one of the scariest character creations in the history of cinema, for all the film's notoriety, all the endless discussion of scenes, performances and themes, this masterpiece of American film has lost none of it's ferocious power, twenty six years on it's still as beautiful, confrontational and sensational as it always was.

Blue Velvet David Lynch

Seeing the film again, the surprising thing is due to Lynch's restraint (that right there is a phrase you don't hear very often) of the self indulgences he was to allow himself in many of his movies that followed (indulgences which I love!), Blue Velvet remains one of his more (narratively at least) accessible movies, despite the terrifying,  almost impossibly dark and humorous tone he so improbably achieves. It clearly isn't a film for everyone but for those willing to surrender to it's "charms" it's one of the richest and densest films to ever come out of Hollywood.

Blue Velvet David Lynch

Blue Velvet has always had a chequered history on home video, from my first viewing on a pan and scanned VHS, through the incorrectly letterboxed US laserdisc and UK dvd that followed (the region 1 release rectified the framing issue). Now with the 25th anniversary MGM blu ray, we finally can see the movie as Lynch intended us to, having supervised the transfer and soundtrack for this release. I can't imagine the film looked as great as it does here when it was fresh in cinemas, such is the quality of the image on display, it's simply a thing of beauty. Cinematographer Frederick Elmes colour palate, so important to Blue Velvet, literally pops off the screen, Dorothy's luscious red lips for example scream from the screen, drawing your eye so you can barely focus on anything else, enabling the viewer to become as captivated by Dorothy as Jeffrey is. The previously impenetrable darker scenes, allow us to see the secrets they were holding on to. It's a wonder to behold and feels like seeing the film again for the first time.

Blue Velvet David Lynch

It isn't just the image that is greatly improved, the audio, presented in a 5.1 DTS-HDMA mix is sumptuous, with Angelo Badalamenti's incredibly underrated score sounding magical and Alan Splet's sound design getting right under the skin, adding immeasurably to the sense of unease. The only caveat is the 5.1 mix is actually closer to a 3.1 mix, but the soundscape is so dense it doesn't really need the addition of surround channels.

The extras include the excellent hour and ten minute documentary Mysteries of Love from the previous dvd release, an edited version of the Siskel and Ebert review (Ebert really hates the film), a trailer and TV spots, a few soundbites not included in the documentary, a gag reel and most importantly around 50 minutes of footage previously thought lost and in 1080p too. The lost scenes don't look as quite good as the film itself but are pretty impressive image wise and fascinating to finally see, I remember reading in Video Watchdog issue 4 about scripted scenes that didn't appear in the film and never thought they would ever become available and here (some of them) are.

It really is a strange world.



14 comments:

Wes M said...

Fantastic stuff Mart, I can't wait to pick this up in high-def. This will be my fourth copy of Blue Velvet. I remember well the old Fox VHS which was one of the worst transfers I've ever seen, hideously dark and murky. The UK Castle DVD was pretty limited too, but the later US special edition DVD was the first decent stab at the film. Sounds like the Blu is in another league altogether... Anyway, it's one of the great masterworks of American Cinema and I can vividly recall passages from the film like they were tatooed on my memory. I often wonder how the film would have played if David Lynch managed to secure the rights to use the Cocteau Twins' Song to the Siren in the film (4AD wanted a big pay out to use the song), but the film as we know it is simply perfect.

robotGEEK said...

Can you believe I only barely saw this for the first time about a year or so ago?! I know, I know. And wow, what a film! If I took anything away from this, it was that Dennis Hopper scares the shit out of me.

Seriously great film though.
"Don't fuckin' look at me!"

A hero never dies said...

Wes, Thanks, this was one of the few occasions where writing about a favourite film wasn't so hard, probably as it was more about the disc. Song to the Siren is a great song and I'm sure it would have been a perfect fit, however I adore Mysteries of Love and can't imagine it with out. I'm going to cover the deleted scenes in another post but one of them uses the French horn instrumental from the soundtrack cd to devastating effect (at least for me!)

Yep a pretty much perfect disc for a perfect film.

Wes M said...

There's a David Lynch Blu box coming to the UK in June, containing Eraserhead / Dune / Blue Velvet / Wild At Heart / Fire Walk With Me / Lost Highway, and I'm most interested in what Universal will do with Eraserhead - their DVD from 2001 was one of the worst transfers I've ever seen - it was no better than the old Polygram VHS. Addmittedly it's a tricky film to get right... I'm looking forward to picking up Fire Walk With Me as well - I saw the film again last year and it gets better as the years go on. Dune, and Wild At Heart I love, but Lost Highway does nothing for me. (the jury is still out on Inland Empire). I still haven't picked up the Twin Peaks series in case a Blu edition comes out, and I'm thinking right now it's about time I upgraded my old DVD of The Elephant Man...

A hero never dies said...

Better late than never rG, there are always going to be films you just don't get around to for whatever reason. Hopper is extraordinary here, do you like any other Lynch movies?

A hero never dies said...

Yeah, I can't decide on if to go for the box Wes or just pick up the ones I want individually. I'm so happy that Fire Walk With me is being released, I can't tell you how many times I almost pulled the trigger on ordering the French blu. Big fan of Wild at Heart too, I still have the laserdiscs of these.

We differ on Dune and Lost Highway, I've never been able to get into Dune, despite a few attempts, whereas I love Lost Highway, the Mystery Man stuff is amazing. Maybe a blu ray viewing is all I need for Dune?

Eraserhead I'd love to see properly, I haven't seen it for what must be twenty years, so I'm particularly excited to hear the lossless audio track for that.

I think I've pretty much answered my own question really re the box set. Must pick up The Elephant Man too as you say, what of Mulholland Drive, do you have the blu for that?

Wes M said...

Yeah, I must see Mulholland Drive again - in fact I've only seen it just the one time at a festival, so a screening is long overdue - I hear good things about the UK Blu so I shall include that on the next order. I must say Mart, all this talk has really put me in the mood to revist that strange and wonderful universe that is David Lynch...

A hero never dies said...

I'm right there with you Wes ready to step through those deep red drapes....

I've had a quick look at the box set and it doesn't look like great news to be honest, the deleted Blue Velvet scenes aren't included and the extras seem to be a real hodge podge of bits and pieces, more worrying is that it appears the transfers are just what were available rather than new ones. For example the Eraserhead one is supposedly from 2000, I'm going to pick up Fire Walk With Me and wait for reviews of the others.

Wes M said...

Yeah, me too. I won't be getting the box because I have Dune, but Universal are hardly thinking outside the box in terms of extras. I had hoped a Wild At Heart BR would contain Lynch's rare performance film Industrial Symphony No. 1 (which opens with a cameoing Sailor and Lula) - wishful thinking on my part perhaps, but the film was included on the excellent 2008 Lime Green Set... By the way, I went looking for the UK Mulholland Drive Blu earlier and wouldn't you know it, that and The Elephant Man BR are now OOP - jeez, they didn't last long !

A hero never dies said...

Do you have the Lime Green Set Wes? I missed out on it as I didn't have the money at the time.

Ditto on the Elephant Man and Mulholland, maybe they will be rereleased soon?

I have Industrial Symphony on VHS still I think, it would be nice to have it on blu at some point.

Wes M said...

Never got the Lime Green Set Mart, I never have the money for such things... I have no idea why those BR's are OOP, maybe Studio Canal lost the rights - very strange... Getting off topic a little - I would highly recommend fans of experimental ambient music check out David Lynch's excellent 2007 album, The Air Is On Fire which features some beautiful minimalist drones and soundscapes. It's a favourite of mine...

A hero never dies said...

I did wonder about picking that album up but never got round to it and moved on, which is strange since I seem to have an affinity with Lynch's musical tastes. I will get on that right away Wes, which brings me to favourite Lynch soundtrack?

Wes M said...

Oh, easy one for me, definitely Alan Splet and David Lynch's extraordinary sound design for Eraserhead - I love experimental music anyway, but this one still fills me with awe. Also, I love the way Lynch obliterates a dialogue scene in Fire Walk With Me with some roaring loud music - incredible device... I don't think David Lynch gets enough credit for his use of music like, say Scorsese or Tarantino.

A hero never dies said...

Yeah, his use of sound and music is probably without peer for me, it's all about the whole experience of the film rather using music to say look how cool I am.

I love that scene you mention in Fire Walk With Me, and the piece of music that plays in it. That would be my pick of both Lynch's films and soundtracks. It may not be perfect but that film has some of the most powerful scenes I've ever seen.

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