Posted on Friday, November 4th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
This is as good a Friday treat as we’re ever likely to offer. Just as I celebrated the 25th anniversary of the film this summer, it was announced that fifty minutes of deleted scenes had been recovered for David Lynch‘s seminal 1986 film Blue Velvet. Those scenes are available on the film’s new Blu-ray disc release, which streets next week, on November 8. I just watched a handful of the ‘new’ scenes, and while I haven’t yet seen them in full blu-ray resolution, what I did see suggested that the mastering and color correction all supervised by Lynch, were done with a meticulous attention to detail.
But don’t take my word for it. Below you’ll find a scene featuring Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) threatening one of his ‘friends’ as Jeffrey Beaumont and Dorothy Vallens (Kyle MacLachlan and Isabella Rossellini) look on in horror. The clip is considered NSFW due to language and nudity, but given that this is a Frank Booth scene, I’m sure that does not come as a surprise.
Oh, and this features the infamous lost ‘woman lighting her nipples on fire’ moment, which Lynch has called a favorite scene. It has been discussed by many Lynch fans, but seen by few people. I’ve wanted to see this scene for many, many years.
In a press release for the BLu-ray, David Lynch says of the ‘new’ footage, “It’s like the song ‘Amazing Grace.’ The footage was lost but now it’s found.” The footage is not cut back into the film; this is not a new director’s cut. Blue Velvet is presented now as it has been for two and a half decades, with the new footage available as a bonus for everyone.
Here’s the red band clip. Turn your sound way up:
I apologize that we can’t present this scene in full blu-ray resolution, as it should be properly seen. But the mere fact that this footage was found and restored is a wonderful thing, and you’ll be able to see the disc in all its glory next week.
As for this scene, the book Lynch on Lynch actually devotes almost two pages to it — this is one of the big lost pieces of Blue Velvet. To editor Chris Rodley, Lynch said,
That’s one of my favorite scenes, but it was too much of a good thing. I wanna get this scene back, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I don’t wanna reinstate it, but I want it to be its own little piece. It could be three or four minutes long. It was completely cut out. It was kind of a companion piece to Ben’s apartment.
Lynch describes the scene in detail — and Lynch’s years-old description in the book is almost exactly what you see above — even noting that Frank’s mention of losing a lucky piece of blue velvet was something that took place when Frank lost the severed ear that sets the story in motion. He also says that the girl seen lighting her nipples on fire at the end showed him that trick. It wasn’t in the script, and he said “You gotta do that.” He describes the technique:
They take these paper matches and split ‘em apart and then lick them and put them on their nipples, so the match-head is sitting right there and you really can’t see the little bit of cardboard. It’s sitting right there, very close. It may come out a quarter inch, but it burns for a while and then you put them out. It just burns long enough for the cut. And so it moved pretty nicely, you know. There was stuff going on. A feel.
Like most of the deleted scenes that appear on the blu-ray, this wasn’t cut at the behest of anyone but the director. Lynch realized that this scene changed the movie,
…it actually took away from the scene upstairs in Ben’s apartment because it was, as I said, ‘too much of a good thing.’
So it was lost for years. For those who’ve watched the film many times in that intervening period, the presentation of this scene in properly mastered form is like being given a present.