Blue Velvet Supplemental Readings

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. 

From the very beginning, BLUE VELVET was unlike anything anyone had seen before- whether audiences loved or hated it. Roger Ebert was strongly in the latter category. In his 1986 review, Ebert criticizes the film not for showing sexual violence but for laughing at it- going so far to call Lynch “more sadistic than the Hopper character” for mastering what he believes many American films do- forgetting that “perhaps sex and violence should be treated with the seriousness they deserve”. Yet despite Ebert’s now famous review, (in which he also discusses the use of satire, character relationships, and metaphors) the film resonated with many people, showing small-town suburbia with a rotten interior- and the film today still calls to many people for the very reasons Ebert hated it.

Salon’s Dennis Lim looks back on BLUE VELVET on the eve of its 30th anniversary in the recent article David Lynch Should be Shot”: Looking Back on the Madness and Chaos of “Blue Velvet” and Ronald Reagan’s ’80s. Lim discusses the reactions of America upon the release of the film, and takes a far more positive stance than Ebert, calling BLUE VELVET “a critical theorist’s dream, a dark comedy of category confusion” and ahead of its time. Discussing the film’s blending of not only genres but also time periods and settings through the use of costumes and dialogue, the article also mentions Lynch’s purposeful connection to the Reagan era. By choosing to invoke déjà vu with the opening themes and aesthetics of 1980’s neighborhood “American Dream” USA, Lynch reminds his audience “the return to the past goes hand in glove with the return of the repressed”, and Lim points out that the characters of the film illustrate just that.

For a more lighthearted read, Meredith Danko‘s Mental Floss article “21 Things You Might Not Know About Blue Velvet reveals secrets of the set, casting choices, what scene Lynch considers most pivotal in the film, and more. The real Lumberton, North Carolina exists, but Danko reveals why Wilmington was chosen for shooting, and what music was played on set to inspire the actors. Always a source for rarely known facts, this Mental Floss article incorporates photographs and film clips as well, to prepare you for your BLUE VELVET rewatch at the Brattle.

Finally, Bela Film’s website introduces their new film BLUE VELVET REVISITED, a documentary just released, featuring footage on set of the 1986 Lynch classic. Peter Braatz collected exclusive rights to film footage, documents, and photographs on set in the 80’s, and they’ve only recently been compiled into this “85 minutes long documentary, an essay, a journey, a treasure that has to be lifted and shown now”. Watch the official trailer, and be reminded of BLUE VELVET’s magic- both on screen and off.

Lauren Backus Written by: