"Blue Velvet" opens with a colourful picture postcard vision of small town America, set to the strains of the eponymous song. It seems so safe, so welcoming. Yet, by the time Lynch replays this sequence at the end of the film, we know that underneath this façade lies a terrifying reality.
Lynch's modern masterpiece is obsessed with the strangeness that hides in the nooks and crannies of suburban America. It's essentially a detective story, in which two all-American heroes, Jeffrey (MacLachlan) and Sandy (Dern), try to solve the mystery surrounding a chopped-off ear. In the process, they discover that their hometown isn't quite as boringly innocent as it first appears.
What makes "Blue Velvet" so special, though, is the way in which Lynch turns this simple set-up into a psychosexual drama that would make even Freud shake his head in disbelief. Jeffrey and Sandy are babes in the woods who stumble into the very adult world of nightclub singer Dorothy (Rossellini) and her torturer-lover Frank (Hopper) - the big bad wolf in this Grimm fairy tale. What they witness is something that their mom and apple pie family life has never prepared them for - S/M, kidnapping, murder, and various sexual perversions.
The timeliness of this reissue shouldn't be underestimated. Since "Blue Velvet" and "Wild at Heart" (1990), Lynch's work has become increasingly detached from the conventions of storytelling, with films like "Lost Highway" and "Mulholland Drive" playing a cat and mouse game with audiences' expectations (the exception to this policy was, of course, "The Straight Story").
What distinguishes "Blue Velvet" from these films is its reliance on a conventional plot. It's the only one of Lynch's works to marry his nightmarish concerns to a story that (very nearly) makes sense, and the result is a movie that brought the clammy terrors of this avant-garde film maker kicking and screaming into the mainstream.
Discover the impact "Blue Velvet" has had since its release.