When David Lynch burst into prominence with Eraserhead in 1977, he came in a burst of cult flames. Weird, quirky, unashamed and without inhibitions, David Lynch took the boundaries of cinema and broke them into a million little pieces. Specialising in the strange and unusual, Lynch is a God when it’s comes to cult cinema. But what really made him and is by far one of his most critically acclaimed pieces of work is Blue Velvet; a lesson in terror and the seedy world beneath suburbia.
Following eccentric student Jeffery Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), Blue Velvet is a tale of the woes of curiosity. Returning home after his father has a stroke, when walking through the back fields of the small town, he finds a severed ear. As the police come to a dead end, Jeffery and detectives daughter Sandy chose to carry out their own investigation which leads them to Dorothy Vallens; a pained jazz club singer and Frank Booth a sadistic mobster who takes sick pleasure in torturing Dorothy.
Blue Velvet is a film that goes beyond the social norms of Hollywood cinema. It’s a very difficult film to watch for those with a weak stomach. As our antagonist is a sadomasochist, it stands to reason. The torture is uncomfortable but it is made that way. What is brilliant about violence (a phrase I never thought I would say) is that it is juxtaposed against the sunny sweet and colourful opening of All-American Suburbia that we were introduced to in the beginning. Blue Velvet isn’t about that; it is about the “bugs underneath the green green grass”. Blue Velvet doesn’t hold back, it jars with constant images of blood, gore, gunshots, rape and murder. But don’t get me wrong, Blue Velvet isn’t a torture porn film. Unlike movies such as Ichi the Killer, the violence is layered, as is Jeffery’s journey down into the twisted world of his town. The violence is there to shock because we too are on this intriguing mystery journey with Jeffery. Lynch works the violence in a way that chills are sent down spines and hair is on stand.
Blue Velvet works because it is strife with some incredible acting. The late and great Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth is a sensational villain whose contorted mind and horrendous persona haunt for years to come after your first viewing. Isabella Rossellini is stunning as Dorothy and both of them together cause a truly remarkable movie because they take acting and push it further. When their characters are at breaking point, you feel it and you believe it causing such a breathless reaction that it is a deep shame that no great awards were bestowed on the too.
Blue Velvet is a dream for movie lovers. Filled with countless symbolism (the bug motif runs throughout the movie) and some haunting imagery, the different levels of Blue Velvet will have you chewing it over for years to come. Considered one of the greatest films of all time and clearly and important cult film for anyone to have in their collection, Blue Velvet is legendary and near faultless. Every viewing of Blue Velvet is a fresh viewing because you see something you have never seen before.
Much like a sleepy ideal town, with dark secrets beneath your feet.
Blue Velvet returns to cinemas from Fri.
Watch it at the Ritzy.