Blue Velvet is a 1986 American neo-noir mystery film, written and directed by David Lynch. Blending psychological horror with film noir, the film stars Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern. The title is taken from Bobby Vinton’s 1963 song of the same name.
The screenplay of Blue Velvet had been passed around multiple times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with many major studios declining it because of its strong sexual and violent content. After the commercial and critical failure of Lynch’s Dune (1984), the director made attempts at developing a more “personal story,” somewhat characteristic of the surrealist style displayed in his debut Eraserhead (1977). The independent studio De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, owned at the time by Italian film producer Dino De Laurentiis, agreed to finance and produce the film.
Blue Velvet initially received a divided critical response, with many stating that its objectionable content served little artistic purpose. It nevertheless earned Lynch his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director and came to achieve cult status. As an example of a director casting against the norm, it was credited for re-launching Hopper’s career and for providing Rossellini with a dramatic outlet beyond her previous work as a fashion model and a cosmetics spokeswoman.
In the years since, the film has generated significant academic attention with regard to its thematic symbolism, and is now widely regarded as one of Lynch’s major works and one of the greatest films of the 1980s. Publications including Sight & Sound, Time, Entertainment Weekly and BBC Magazine have ranked it among the greatest American films of all time. In 2008, Blue Velvet was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest American mystery films ever made.