Film – Blue Velvet Revisited

Blue Velvet Revisited

Steve Taylor-Bryant watches a documentary from this year’s London Film Festival Cult section from Peter Braatz…

In 1985, David Lynch invited a young German filmmaker named Peter Braatz onto the set of his latest production, Blue Velvet. Over the next couple of months, Braatz recorded hours of footage, shot thousands of photographs and conducted numerous interviews with the cast and crew. For over 30 years, the majority of this material has gone unseen. But now, Braatz has pieced together his archival treasure trove to create a hypnotic meditation on one of cinema’s most enigmatic masterpieces. Presented without narration and no discernible narrative arc, this intuitive documentary does not seek to tell the story of how Blue Velvet came together, nor does it provide answers to the countless mysteries of the film’s labyrinthine plot. Instead, like a long-forgotten dream, Blue Velvet Revisited takes the viewer on a mysterious journey from which one emerges with more questions than answers. And what could be more Lynchian than that?

This is not the kind of documentary you may be used to, it’s certainly not the kind of ‘behind the scenes’ product you would get on a DVD. It has no running commentary explaining what is happening and why, it is exactly what Peter Braatz announces in neon blue at the start of the screening, a meditation in film. Stunning wouldn’t do the look or layout of Blue Velvet Revisited justice. The mixture of neon and special effect between such wonderfully named segments as “Do It for Van Gogh” are the only modern looking element and sit well alongside the incredible footage from the set and rare photographs that make up Peter Braatz film. You don’t need to have seen Blue Velvet to appreciate the look of the film but, if you are in anyway a fan of David Lynch, then you have to see it as he talks in a relaxed, unguarded way about everything from Peter having a girlfriend, to taking a salary cut to keep artistic control, to a fascinating insight into what 1985’s David Lynch wanted from the inevitable move into computers taking over Hollywood. The line “only Lucas has the money to use them” gives you a real grounding in what filmmaking outside of the big budget studios was like for filmmakers in the 1980’s.

Blue Velvet Revisited

Seeing never before viewed still photographs and archive video footage would be worth the entrance fee alone to see Blue Velvet Revisited but the opportunity to spend 85 minutes with a candid and passionate David Lynch is priceless. The way the film plays with its footage and photos over a glorious soundtrack (Cult With No Name are a particular highlight when it comes to the music and songs in the film) may not be for everyone. I appreciate that some filmgoers prefer their viewing more normal and pedestrian than others, but that wouldn’t be very Lynchian would it?

Huge thanks to Peter Braatz for making the film and giving me an insight into David Lynch I had never had before and for reminding me what a great filmmaker at work looks like.

Image/Synopsis - BFI.
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