Blue Velvet: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray
by Jef Burnham
Now available from MGM Home Entertainment.
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“Why are there people like Frank? Why is there so much trouble in this world?” And why don’t you buy the Blue Velvet 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray… like right now? It’s neat.
What can I, as a critic, say about Blue Velvet here that hasn’t already been said? Nothing, really, which is why I don’t intend to try. Suffice it to say that this erotic and disturbing (yet somehow quite funny) exploration of the underbelly of an otherwise serene American town is essential viewing for any cinephile, and that, if you haven’t seen it, you need to. And what better time than now to check out this modern American classic, with a newly released HD transfer of the film on Blu-ray!
The 1080p transfer, maintaining the film’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio, was overseen and color-corrected by writer/director David Lynch himself. The transfer is pristine with super-saturated colors noticeable from the iconic opening pan down to the rose bush all the way through to the credits. The image is crisp and free of debris, but it should be noted that the image is often on the soft side, but this is intentional. The soft filters employed by Lynch and cinematographer Frederick Elmes glamorize Isabella Rosselini as singer Dorothy Vallens when singing at The Slow Club, and accentuate the wholesomeness of the town of Lumberton with a sort of wistful haze. The audio too is masterfully mixed in this 5.1 DTS-HD transfer, which serves Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting score most capably and screams through at the most intense moments to shake you just as Lynch would have you shook.
The majority of the special features here are carried over from the previous Special Edition DVD. The “Mysteries of Love” Documentary returns, along with the original Siskel & Ebert review, trailers/TV spots, and series of vignette interviews. New to this release, however, is “A Few Outtakes,” which, at about a minute and a half, is a welcome if limited addition to the package, as well as an incredible 50 minutes of “Newly Discovered Lost Footage.” This lost footage, in addition to the spectacular HD transfer, makes this edition of Blue Velvet an absolute must for any serious home video collection.
This lost footage paints a very different picture of Blue Velvet, that of a film that could very well not have worked as beautifully as it does today. The footage reveals an extensive subplot Lynch had planned, in which Jeffrey is forced to drop out of school as a result of his father’s illness and struggles with the loss of his college gal. Additionally, the scenes depict significant friction between Jeffrey and his mother who, as it happens, suffers from some medical ailment. The removal of this footage benefits the film immensely in that it further distanced Jeffrey’s world, which appears in the final cut of the film as incredibly wholesome and worry-free (with the exception of his father’s illness of course), from Frank’s world, which is every bit the polar opposite. Editor Duwayne Dunham, it seems, deserves a hell of a lot of thanks from cinephiles everywhere. The revealing of Dorothy Vallens’ opening acts at The Slow Club will undoubtedly prove to be the most fascinating portion of this lost footage to Lynch fans. The first of these two acts features a spot-lit dog eating from a green bowl below lights in the shape of a rabbit. The second act I can’t even begin to describe! And even if I were to describe it here, you might not believe me. You just have to see it.
The only problem I have with the inclusion of this footage on the disc is that we have here, again, an irksome MGM release without a main menu (something I find increasingly troubling). Special features can be accessed only from the pop-up menu, which necessarily pops up over the feature film. As such, MGM inextricably links this footage to the film proper in a very direct way, when it should, due to its intentional exclusion from the film at the time of production, be separated by at least a menu or two. This by no means should deter you from the purchase, as it really is an otherwise terrific release. I only mean to encourage you to consider the ramifications of viewing the bonus footage and film in this way, as the events depicted in the lost footage may affect your reading of the film in a way that contradicts the messages of the final product. As such, I highly recommend you watch the footage and film in separate sittings.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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