The cult movie Blue Velvet (David Lynch) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. In 1985, Lynch invited Peter Braatz, a young German filmmaker, to come to the set and produce a documentary about it. Braatz registered on his Super 8 various interviews with the cast – Laura Dern, Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLashlan, Dean Stockwell – as well as recorded hours of footage and shot many pictures. Blue Velvet Revisited was kept hidden for all those years. Now it mysteriously comes to life just like a long-forgotten dream.
Blue Velvet Revisited is a movie for Lynch’s fans. It is hard to appreciate it if you have not seen the original, otherwise it remains intangible. But for those who connect with Lynchian enigmatic narrative, the documentary ritualises the filmmaker’s working style. Dennis Hopper says that the film reflects “living on the edge of subconscious. People have those subconscious feelings […]. In our own dream those things exist. In reality too, but hopefully we don’t see them. Lynch is wonderfully naive”. In fact, Hopper had a profound understanding of his character Frank. He felt empathy for him immediately after reading the script, and insisted in having the part. Eventually, Lynch said yes to Hopper, though he wasn’t his first choice.
The documentary attempts to recreate Lynch’s non-linear narrative. It shows Lynch’s drawings and mixes it with images of the crew building the set. The idea of the film came from a song and so the sound engineer worked very close to Lynch. They twisted and twerked the film in the editing room.
The interviews with Lynch reveal all sorts of ideas that became his obsession in his further movies and artwork. Primarily, Lynch wanted to be a painter. This is what distinguishes him from other North-American filmmakers of the ’80s, such as Scorsese, Coppola and De Palma, who tend to be less attached to other media. In reality, Blue Velvet is a kinaesthetic experience. The symbol of the ear crawling with ants is a door to another world. Lynch explains that “beneath the appearance many strange things can happen”.
Lynch sneaks into a dark world with no fear and Blue Velvet Revisited is a window crack into Lynch’s creativity. His comfort with the hidden symbols comes from his habit of meditating. In 1986 David already interrupted the shootings for his meditation exercises. In 2006 he wrote the book Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity. No wonder Blue Velvet was so effective.
Braatz portrays bit by bit how Lynch made the movie he dreamed of. It was the first time Lynch had total control of the final cut, and some money to do it (Dino De Laurentiis signed the executive production). He shared his freedom with his actors and crew, so also enjoyed a lot of liberty.
The doc also unearths a visionary aspect of Lynch’s work: his desire to work with computers in cinema. He said he admired technology because it made films faster and more effective. Braatz was surprised by this revelation, since almost no filmmaker at that time shared Lynch’s ideas. His plan came to reality with Inland Empire (2006), Lynch’s first film to have been shot entirely in standard definition digital video.
Blue Velvet Revisited is showing at BFI London Film Festival on October 7th and 8th. Watch the film trailer below and brab your ticket here: