Blue Velvet: Special Edition

You either like David Lynch, or you don’t. It really can be that cut and dry. I like him. A lot. My wife always approaches his films with the same unbridled enthusiasm, and gives the exact same response when the film has ended: “I have no idea what that was all about, and don’t think I care to find out.” Bless her soul, she continuously returns for more days later.

“Blue Velvet” elicits many of the same exhilarated emotions, from confusion to hatred and back to confusion. You can mimic the experience without the DVD by breaking into a crazy lady’s apartment, hiding in her closet and observing the world through the slat of a door. But what fun is that? Instead, pop in MGM’s Special Edition of “Blue Velvet” and enjoy the non-visually-impaired sights. Seen through the eyes of a fresh-faced Kyle MacLachlan, Lynch’s film peels back the first layer of flesh from the surface of the rosy suburban lifestyle to show that even here, in the land of yellow flowers and white picket fences, a character like Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) can cause such havoc in the lives of such innocent bystanders. But enough about “seen” and “through the eyes” because MacLachlan, playing inquisitive Jeffrey Beaumont, begins his journey by finding a severed ear in a field. Sounds like trouble. Jeffrey’s attempts to place the ear with its owner land him in the apartment of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a tortured beauty with skeletons (and Jeffrey) in her closet. In an effort to keep her kidnapped husband and son alive, Vallens must play sexually charged mind games with Frank, a deranged bully whose lack of motivation makes him equally puzzling and dangerous as a snake. “Velvet” comes off as confusing some times, and vicious at others. The women in the film, from Rossellini to a young Laura Dern, put all too much trust in the male characters – and in Lynch as their director – only to end up used and abused in the end. One woman, left with nothing else to do, dances atop a car while Frank pummels a shackled Jeffrey. We feel helpless throughout, which appears exactly the way Lynch wants us to feel. While not quite as baffling as “Eraserhead” or his most recent, “Mulholland Drive,” “Blue Velvet” does twist our guts with anticipation of the next scene. Few other directors can manipulate so effectively with visuals and a catchy soundtrack. Lynch is an original, and while not at the top of his game, you can see enough of his talents on display in this flick.Grade: BTHE EXTRASThere are extras? Fans of Lynch will be pleasantly surprised, as the director has become infamous for leaving them off his DVDs to date. But MGM’s “Blue Velvet” offers a few entertaining sequences that have been pulled from the archives but prove valuable nonetheless.The first place I went after watching the film was to the “Siskel & Ebert” review excerpt, saved from their TV show back in 1986. Knowing Ebert publicly dismissed with a one-star review, I expected analysis, debate and a solid piece. Instead, this is a 1:30 clip where puritan Roger rails Lynch for keeping Rossellini in the nude for 3/4 of the film. While I tend to agree with the excessiveness of Lynch’s approach to his female leads, I’d hoped for more from this piece. Siskel seemed to really enjoy the film.The in-depth analysis comes in the form of an eight-segment, 70 minutes “Mysteries of Love” documentary. It features recent interviews of the cast interspersed with file footage of Lynch explaining the film. While it would’ve been nice to have Lynch explain how the film has affected his career in hindsight, I do appreciate hearing how he approached the film back then, and his cats does a great job filling in the blanks many years later. The doc serves as a time capsule, and a bridge to the present day that we’re not frequently treated to. Finally, MGM includes several infamous “Deleted Scenes” that wrap up the DVD, along with a stills gallery, a trailer and two TV spots.Grade: B+OVERALL EXPERIENCE: B+Strong extra features contribute rare background material to a film many consider an American classic. While I’m not quite in that camp, I did enjoy “Blue Velvet” for its brazen approach to difficult material, and completely recommend the DVD.By Sean O’ConnellJune 7, 2002