Blue Velvet (1986) is in some ways one of David Lynch’s most accessible works: it has a more conventional, linear narrative than many of his other projects, it can be understood as a thriller, and it fits into the film noir tradition. Audiences have a framework for processing the film’s scenes of brutality and perversity. For instance, upon its initial release, Gene Siskel compared it to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).
Tag: David Lynch
There’s nothing quite like the experience of watching David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, his prequel and epilogue to the ABC television series, allowed Lynch to connect plot points (albeit loosely, and with tangled string), answer some lingering questions, and make explicit some of the more taboo themes of the network television series. Filmgoers unfamiliar with Lynch or the series will immediately get a sense of his surreal style as the film opens – the screen is blurry and blue, eventually revealed to be a static-filled television screen, which is then destroyed with a baseball bat to the sound of a woman’s terrified screams. Could this be Lynch’s signal to the audience that he is through with television, and here, returning to film, ready to smash all preconceived notions of his work?
It’s worth noting that David Lynch’s 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me–a prequel to the legendary TV series that Lynch co-created with Mark Frost–was booed at Cannes. Writing about the film in the New York Times at the time of its release, Vincent Canby opined, “Its 134 minutes induce a state of simulated brain death, an effect as easily attained in half the time by staring at the blinking lights on a Christmas tree.” The film was widely viewed as an incoherent disaster (to Canby, “an undifferentiated mess of story lines and hallucinations”), and it fed into a backlash against Lynch that began with the swift decline of Twin Peaks’ television popularity and continued for much of the ‘90s.
David Lynch is the type of director that is nearly impossible to separate from his movies. His presence is infused in all his art, of which the varieties range from collage, sculpture and painting to film, television and furniture design. His public persona embraces his Montana hucksterism to such an extreme degree it can be difficult to determine if it’s genuine or if he’s peeking out at us from between cracks. The gee-whiz quality he depicts can feel like an alternate representation of the grinning elderly couple in Mulholland Dr. that Betty meets on the plane, an omnipresent facade masking something more sinister and troubled underneath. Lynch has a creative prowess that is rare and his art embodies a commitment to creativity over entertainment and narrative.
On September 19th, 1986, David Lynch’s now-cult classic BLUE VELVET was released. 2016 marks the film’s 30th anniversary, and here at the Brattle, we’re providing the best way to celebrate- a full of week of showings, (July 1st-7th) featuring a brand new restoration of the film. To prepare you for your visit back to Lumberton, and the world of Dorothy Vallens, Frank Booth, and others, we’ve compiled a list of supplemental readings about the film and its legacy.
It’s a strange world; or rather, it’s a strange neighborhood in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986). Lynch’s microcosm, in which a small town carries the horror of a maniacal detective story, acts paradigmatically to disclose the psychosexual turmoil of the human mind. The opening scene posits a white picket fence, saturated roses, a gleeful fireman, and a fatherly figure watering the garden. It’s the American dream in its cinematic realization. Yet in typical Lynch fashion, this idyllic scene is threatened by a freak accident. The man watering the garden collapses to the ground and the camera descends to his level, submerging the viewer in the grass, where bugs squirm as an assertion of the ensuing uneasiness.
In 1997, nearing the end of a decade that would see the rise and fall of Twin Peaks, the polarizing and surreal ultraviolence of Wild at Heart and would close out with the penultimate Y2K release of a film about a man and his tractor (The Straight Story), David Lynch would release a voyeuristic neo-noir as terrifying as it is erotic and as esoteric as its cast and director would lead you to believe. Starring such screen luminaries as Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Robert Blake, Robert Logia, Gary Busey, Richard Pryor, Jack Nance, Henry Rollins, Marilyn Manson and the voice of Mink Stole – Lost Highway would be far from conventional on screen, playing like a forgotten piece of trashy film noir with a cast of 70s/80s/90s fringe pop-culture class. And David Lynch’s fingerprints would be all over it.
By Daniel Clemens
Looking back now, rural Pennsylvania was not the most exciting place to grow up. In fact, I could think of about a dozen other places I would rather spend eighteen years of my life than where I did. The novelty of tractors driving alongside cars on the backroads of town wore off quickly, as did the lines upon lines of cows and sheep and abandoned farmhouses I passed every day on my way to school. Although occasionally appreciated, I soon grew weary of knowing every mundane detail of the lives of every member of the town’s small citizenship. Even worse was having them know every detail of mine. However, I didn’t know any other kind of life back then; I had nothing else to compare it to. Looking past the seemingly endless monotony of my living, there was an abundance of magic to it all: a simple and wonderful innocence that can’t be found anywhere other than in a small town—at least, I have yet to find it any place else. Fortunately, David Lynch’s THE STRAIGHT STORY captures that exact form of rural magic in spades.
By Tessa Mediano
If we take our x-axis to represent time and our y-axis to represent accessibility, it can be said that David Lynch’s cinematic career is a bell curve. The origins and the final works of his oeuvre are uncanny in their shared moods, themes and influences. Naturally, the director’s artistic development throughout the years casts a rather primitive shadow on his first forays into the world of film, but regardless, shorts such as SIX MEN GETTING SICK, THE ALPHABET, and THE GRANDMOTHER offer valuable insight into the ideological motivations behind Lynch’s filmic productions.