My father was a research scientist for the Department of Agriculture in Washington. We were in the woods all the time. I'd sorta had enough of the woods by the time I left, but still, lumber and lumberjacks, all this kinda thing, that's America to me like the picket fences and the roses in the opening shot. It's so burned in, that image, and it makes me feel so happy.
David Lynch discusses the autobiographical content in Blue Velvet  The film's story originated from three ideas that crystallized in the filmmaker's mind over a period of time starting as early as The first idea was only "a feeling" and the title Blue Velvet, Lynch told Cineaste in Except it needed to be an opening of a part of the body, a hole into something else The ear sits on the head and goes right into the mind so it felt perfect," Lynch remarked in an interview.
The problem with them, Lynch has said, was that "there was maybe all the unpleasantness in the film but nothing else. A lot was not there.
And so it went away for a while. Roth had read and enjoyed Lynch's Ronnie Rocket script, but did not think it was something he wanted to produce. He asked Lynch if the filmmaker had any other scripts, but the director only had ideas. Roth loved the idea and asked me to write a treatment.
I went home and thought of the ear in the field. So it was just a euphoria. And when you work with that kind of feeling, you can take chances. After completion of the film, during test screenings, ICM Partners —the agency representing Rossellini—immediately dropped her as a client. Furthermore, the nuns at the school in Rome that Rossellini attended in her youth called to say they were praying for her.
MacLachlan later became a recurring collaborator with Lynch, who remarked: He's the person you trust enough to go into a strange world with.
Laura Dern, then just 19 years old, was cast after various successful actresses at the time turned it down, including Molly Ringwald. The experience was so traumatic to the young Lynch that it made him cry, and he had never forgotten it. The scene with a raped and battered Dorothy proved to be particularly challenging.
Several townspeople arrived to watch the filming with picnic baskets and rugs, against the wishes of Rossellini and Lynch. However, they continued filming as normal, and when Lynch yelled cut, the townspeople had left.
As a result, police told Lynch they were no longer permitted to shoot in any public areas of Wilmington. For example, when Frank slaps Dorothy after the first rape scene, the audience was supposed to see Frank actually hitting her. Instead, the film cuts away to Jeffrey in the closet, wincing at what he has just seen. This cut was made to satisfy the MPAA's concerns about violence. Lynch thought that the change only made the scene more disturbing.
In , Lynch announced that footage from the deleted scenes , long thought lost, had been discovered. The material was subsequently included on the Blu-ray disc release of the film.
Throughout the film, a dream Sandy had is alluded to, in which the world was full of darkness and turmoil until a group of robins were set free, unleashing blinding light and love. Lighting is a strong symbolic aspect of the film, illustrated in this second shot which is lit from above before fading out, representing a return to normalcy.
Despite Blue Velvet's initial appearance as a mystery, the film operates on a number of thematic levels. The film owes a large debt to s film noir , containing and exploring such conventions as the femme fatale Dorothy Vallens , a seemingly unstoppable villain Frank Booth , and the questionable moral outlook of the hero Jeffrey Beaumont , as well as its unusual use of shadowy, sometimes dark cinematography.
Perhaps the most significant Lynchian trademark in the film is the depiction of unearthing a dark underbelly in a seemingly idealized small town;  Jeffrey even proclaims in the film that he is "seeing something that was always hidden," alluding to the plot's central idea. Lynch's characterization of films, symbols, and motifs have become well-known, and his particular style, characterised largely in Blue Velvet for the first time, has been written about extensively using descriptions like "dreamlike,"  "ultraweird,"  "dark,"  and "oddball.
The film has been compared to Alfred Hitchcock 's Psycho because of its stark treatment of psychotic evil. For instance, Frank's violent acts can be seen to reflect the different types of abuse within families, and the control he has over Dorothy might represent the hold an abusive husband has over his wife.
This is generally recognized as a metaphor for the seedy underworld that Jeffrey will soon discover under the surface of his own suburban, Reaganesque paradise. The bug motif is recurrent throughout the film, most notably in the bug-like gas mask that Frank wears, but also the excuse that Jeffrey uses to gain access to Dorothy's apartment: The severed ear that Jeffrey discovers is also a key symbolic element,  leading Jeffrey into danger.
Indeed, just as Jeffrey's troubles begin, the audience is treated to a nightmarish sequence in which the camera zooms into the canal of the severed, decomposing ear. Notably, the camera does not reemerge from the ear canal until the end of the film. When Jeffrey finally comes through his hellish ordeal unscathed, the ear canal shot is replayed, only in reverse, zooming out through Jeffrey's own ear as he relaxes in his yard on a summer day. Blue Velvet soundtrack The Blue Velvet soundtrack was supervised by Angelo Badalamenti who makes a brief cameo appearance as the pianist at the Slow Club where Dorothy performs.
The soundtrack makes heavy usage of vintage pop songs, such as Bobby Vinton 's "Blue Velvet" and Roy Orbison 's " In Dreams ," juxtaposed with an orchestral score inspired by Shostakovich. During filming, Lynch placed speakers on set and in streets and played Shostakovich to set the mood he wanted to convey.
He would go onto use this song in Lost Highway, eleven years later. Critic John Alexander wrote, "the haunting soundtrack accompanies the title credits, then weaves through the narrative, accentuating the noir mood of the film. Also included in the sound team was long time Lynch collaborator Alan Splet , a sound editor and designer who had won an Academy Award for his work on The Black Stallion , and been nominated for Never Cry Wolf It debuted commercially in both countries on September 19, , in 98 theatres across the United States.
There were reports of mass walkouts and refund demands during its opening week. At a Chicago screening, a man fainted and had to have his pacemaker changed. Upon completion, he returned to the cinema to see the ending. At a Los Angeles cinema, two strangers became engaged in a heated disagreement, but decided to resolve the disagreement in order to return to the theatre.
Critical reception[ edit ] Blue Velvet was released to a polarized reception in the United States. The critics who did praise the film were often vociferous. Hopper and Miss Rossellini are so far outside the bounds of ordinary acting here that their performances are best understood in terms of sheer lack of inhibition; both give themselves entirely over to the material, which seems to be exactly what's called for. Lynch's stature as an innovator, a superb technician, and someone best not encountered in a dark alley.
Peter Travers , film critic for Rolling Stone , named it the best film of the s and referred to it as an "American masterpiece. Paul Attanasio of The Washington Post said "the film showcases a visual stylist utterly in command of his talents" and that Angelo Badalamenti "contributes an extraordinary score, slipping seamlessly from slinky jazz to violin figures to the romantic sweep of a classic Hollywood score," but stated that Lynch "isn't interested in communicating, he's interested in parading his personality.
The movie doesn't progress or deepen, it just gets weirder, and to no good end. They asserted that this detracted from the film's seriousness as a work of art,   and some condemned the film as pornographic. And when you ask an actress to endure those experiences, you should keep your side of the bargain by putting her in an important film. The critical consensus states: In , he remarked, "as a film critic, it taught me that when a film really gets under your skin and really provokes a visceral reaction, you have to be very careful about assessing it I didn't walk out on Blue Velvet because it was a bad film.
I walked out on it because it was a really good film. The point was at the time I wasn't good enough for it. The shock of the new fades by definition, but if it has hardly done so in the case of Blue Velvet, that may be because its tone remains forever elusive. Dennis Lim,  Although it initially gained a relatively small theatrical audience in North America and was met with controversy over its artistic merit, Blue Velvet soon became the center of a "national firestorm" in , and over time achieved status as an American classic.
In the late s, and early s, after its release on videotape, the film became a widely known cult film , well known for its dark depiction of a suburban America. It marked the entrance of David Lynch into the Hollywood mainstream and the comeback of Dennis Hopper after a significant hiatus from work. Hopper's performance and the character of Frank Booth itself has left an imprint on popular culture, with countless tributes, cultural references and parodies.
The film's dark, stylish and erotic production design has served as a benchmark for a number of films, parodies and even Lynch's own later work, notably Twin Peaks —91 , and Mulholland Drive Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine cited it as one of the most "influential American films," as did Michael Atkinson , who dedicated a book to the film's themes and motifs.
Blue Velvet was ranked at fourth. In June , the AFI revealed its " Ten top Ten "—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1, people from the creative community. Blue Velvet was acknowledged as the eighth best film in the mystery genre.