“It’s a strange world, Sandy.”
You never forget the opening shot of David Lynch’s seminal Neo-noir, Blue Velvet. The camera pans up to a white picket fence with bright red roses saying hello to earth while Angelo Badalamenti’s rendition of “Blue Velvet” plays overhead. To an average moviegoer unaware of Lynch’s work, it may allude this is going to be a peaceful movie. But this is Lynch’s world, so buckle up because shit is about to get weird.
Welcome to Lumberton, where everything is fucked and on fire. On break from college, Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) finds an ear on the ground, decides to plays detective (and no doubt his character is the catalyst that kick-started lynch’s cult-series, Twin Peaks), where he is in way his head when he meets Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a lounge singer at The Slow Club, where everything moves fast — feelings, tears, love, and trouble. She only sings one song — “Blue Velvet” — and loves to be beaten during sex. Jeffrey also has to face off with her psychotic, Pabst Blue Ribbon-drinking, Nitrous oxide-loving pseudo-pimp Frank Booth (the late, great Dennis Hopper, playing arguably himself). The movie satisfies and is the quintessential David Lynch film. Fun fact: Many studios passed on this script when it first made its rounds long ago due to its violent and misogynistic nature, but once it was picked up and released, it became an instant cult hit, catapulted Lynch’s career, and garnered him his first Oscar nomination for Best Director.
Criterion’s Blue Velvet is released in a 4K restoration with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio that was supervised by Lynch. (Also included is the original 2.0 surround soundtrack). The restoration is about a 60/40 4K restoration clarity. At times the colors shine — and this is a movie full of vivid colors, and Lynch’s visual aesthetic is still unparalleled — but some scenes look, well, for lack of a better phrase, almost DVD quality. It’s not as clean as other 4K restorations, but it didn’t bother me. So don’t worry, it’s only a few snippets that aren’t cleaned up to Criterion's usual standards (perhaps due to poor lighting in these scenes) and isn’t enough to detract fans from buying. (Note: I have not seen the 2011 Blu-ray release, so I cannot compare quality from that release.)
There are some slight differences in Criterion’s release and the popular 2011 Blu-ray release. Criterion’s release is a 4K restoration scan with more extra features than the previous, including It’s a Strange World, a 2019 documentary on the film, and Lynch reading from Room to Dream, which is a book he co-authored, as well as the thick booklet with excerpts of Room to Dream. The only missing extra feature from the 2011 release is Siskel and Ebert 'At the Movies,’ which seems to be popular among fans, so you may want to hang on to that 2011 Blu-ray if only just for that.
Lynch-Approved Blu-ray Features:
* New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, both supervised by director David Lynch
* Alternate original 2.0 surround soundtrack
* The Lost Footage, fifty-three minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes assembled by Lynch
* “Blue Velvet” Revisited, a feature-length meditation on the making of the movie by Peter Braatz, filmed on-set during the production
* Mysteries of Love, a seventy-minute documentary from 2002 on the making of the film
* Interview from 2017 with composer Angelo Badalamenti
* It’s a Strange World: The Filming of “Blue Velvet,” a 2019 documentary featuring interviews with crew members and visits to the shooting locations
* Lynch reading from Room to Dream, a 2018 book he coauthored with Kristine McKenna
PlUS: Excerpts by McKenna from Room to Dream
Cover by Fred Davis
If you’re a Lynch fan, this is a must-own for the slick digipack packaging and thick booklet full of goodies including photographs and essays. If not, why are you reading this?