To contextualise Blue Velvet, it is useful to consider which film Lynch made before it. Released in 1984, Lynch’s film Dune was both a critical and commercial failure. It was unsuccessful in recouping its $40 million budget at the American box office, and was practically disowned by its director. Lynch claims he was consistently interfered with by financiers and producers and was not given the ‘final cut’ on the film, thereby causing the resulting incoherent mess.
Following the fiasco of Dune, for his next film Lynch needed to make a relatively low budget film that would not only rekindle the faith of his investors, but would also allow him creative autonomy, with a return back to a smaller scale study of individuals within society that Lynch used to full effect when he directed Eraserhead (1977).
Released in 1986, Blue Velvet demonstrated that Lynch had recovered from making a film that was widely regarded by many critics at the time as being one of the worst of 1984. Furthermore, current critical opinion is that Blue Velvet is not only one of the best films directed by David Lynch; it is also one of the most significant films of the 1980s…
The full 850 word version of this review is published in Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 2, edited by John Berra, published by Intellect Books, 2013.