Often deemed an American masterpiece (and rightly so), David Lynch's cult classic still retains its eerily beautiful standards thirty years on.
David Lynch is known for his surrealist, captivating and unique filmography spanning over 50 years. From Eraserhead to Mulholand Drive, Lynch has been a gateway to the insanely weird and macabre undergrowth of American society. Controversy follows Lynch like a moth to a flame, the reception surrounding Blue Velvet thirty years ago being no different. Lynch polarized critics with his unearthly neo-noir surrounding the discovery of a severed human ear in a small, picturesque American town of the 1980s.
Blue Velvet became a seminal film both within the realms of Lynch and Hollywood. Lynch captivated audiences across America through his sordid representation of life, love, sex and death occurring under the peaceful guise of the so-called American dream. Helped along by the casting of boy-next-door Kyle MacLachlan and the doe-eyed Laura Dern to oppose the femme fatale Isabella Rossellini and venom-fueled Denis Hopper, Blue Velvet surpassed any expectations that were attached to the film prior to its release, whether good or bad.
Even though Blue Velvet is predominately rooted in surrealism and psychological horror, Lynch relies on film noir as a heavy influence throughout. In this merit, Blue Velvet is often cited as a neo-noir- a film that utilizes the same techniques, narrative conventions and cinematography as classic noir, but with an additional twist. Noir itself is a predominant influence for Lynch not only in Blue Velvet, but throughout his career. From his first film Eraserhead to the 90s classic Lost Highway, Lynch’s ability to instigate neo-noir within his own concept of filmmaking his what launched Blue Velvet into the cultural stratosphere of the 1980s.
For a film to garner a re-release, it needs to have accumulated some cultural significance. Blue Velvet has reaped more than enough worth, with new generations constantly being exposed to its legacy. Thirty years on, it is still being heavily taught within film from colleges to universities, with scholars taking their own spin on what Lynch intended to portray through his unique artistic vision. Three decades is a long time for a film to still be as bewitching – and beloved – as Blue Velvet is, and yet it still manages to take hold of you even after multiple viewings.
The quality of this re-release is remarkable. Blue Velvet has already been restored through its Blu-ray release for its 25th anniversary in 2011, but there’s nothing like seeing that quality on the big screen celebrating its longevity. It was even more fitting to witness Blue Velvet at Harbour Lights Picturehouse in Southampton, fitting Lynch’s aesthetics and cult-like status.
Blue Velvet (1986), directed by David Lynch, is distributed by Park Circus for the 30th Anniversary re-release. Certificate 18.