A Moody Meditation from the Set of Blue Velvet

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — May 30, 2019


It was more than three decades ago, in early 1986, that David Lynch arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina, to begin shooting his fourth feature, Blue Velvet. The surreal and emotionally overpowering neonoir that began to take shape there would go on to become one of the most iconic American fever dreams of its era, in large part due to the hard work and creative faith that Lynch and his collaborators poured into it. The German photographer Peter Braatz, who was twenty-four years old at the time, was invited by Lynch to the set after writing a letter to the director offering to chronicle the making of his latest project. While there, Braatz captured the full-immersion creative process behind the film, and he eventually drew on the firsthand audio and visual material that he had gathered to make “Blue Velvet” Revisited, a rarely seen feature-length documentary with a haunting score produced by the British electronic band Cult With No Name.

Braatz’s impressionistic behind-the-scenes film is featured on our new edition of Blue Velvet, and in the above excerpt, you’ll hear two candid pieces of audio captured in it. In the first, Lynch expresses his confidence in the dramatic components of Blue Velvet, while admitting his uncertainty as to whether those parts will ultimately cohere. Then Isabella Rossellini, who gives an unforgettable performance in the movie as the tragic lounge singer Dorothy Vallens, joins in to describe the innocence she sees as fundamental to Lynch’s personality and art, and to attest to the psychological complexity of his script.