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Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
6712 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028 Map
Thu, Jan 30, 2014
7:30pm

Seminars For Filmmakers 2014
Deconstructing Blue Velvet: A Master Class In Screen Direction

This event repeats on Thursday, January 23rd.

***Please Note: We will not be watching BLUE VELVET in its entirety. Seminar attendees are encouraged to view the whole film in advance of attending the seminar.

Sandy: “I can’t figure out if you’re a detective or a pervert.”
Jeffrey: “Well, that’s for me to know and you to find out.”
-- Laura Dern as Sandy Williams and Kyle MacLachlan as Jeffrey Beaumont in David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET (1986)

Upon its initial release, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese called David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET (1986) the “Best Film of The Year.” Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times referred to the film as “The most brilliantly disturbing film ever to have its roots in small-town American life…shocking, visionary, rapturously controlled.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it “An American Masterpiece.”

Then the firestorm hit.

Severely outraged film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times went on attack mode and slammed BLUE VELVET as a “painful and wounding…sophomoric satire” and then ripped that the film was “one of the sickest movies ever made.” (Until the end of his life, Ebert never deviated from his original opinion of BLUE VELVET.) After making the film, actress Isabella Rossellini (Dorothy Vallens) was dropped by her ICM Agents for lending her talents to a “pornographic” film. As her Catholic nun educators publicly prayed for her soul, snide film critic Rex Reed warned the actress personally that “...your mother (actress Ingrid Bergman) would turn in her grave if she saw the part you played in BLUE VELVET.” With no one brave enough to distribute the film, wealthy Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis created his own distribution company to put the film out in a limited fashion. But angry audiences shook their heads upon leaving the theatres and word spread that the film was insulting to small town Americans, sexually explicit, extremely violent and audiences stayed away. By year’s end, the Actor’s Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave actor Dennis Hopper (BLUE VELVET’s Frank Booth) the only acting Oscar nomination of his career…for the film HOOSIERS - the other conventionally acted and almost forgotten film Hopper made in 1986 – instead of BLUE VELVET, as they desperately tried to avoid associating themselves with further BLUE VELVET controversy.

And yet, 28 years later, David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET endures.

With its startling mixture of film genres - mystery, crime thriller, film noir, domestic melodrama, satire - its radical juxtaposition of innocence and sensual derangement, its wicked, innovative ear (pun intended) and its incorporation of surrealist intentions, BLUE VELVET’s ability to simultaneously shock and delight seems even fresher and more original today.

Rarely does a film meet with such extraordinary controversy and such genuine polarization on an initial release and come out surviving the passage of time so beautifully. In fact, BLUE VELVET sits alongside Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971), Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST (1973), Bertolucci’s LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1973), Renoir’s THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939), Bunuel’s UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1929) and VIRIDIANA (1961) as that rare example of a film that survived a tidal wave of controversy to be resurrected by its own divisive intentions and unusual beauty. Today, it’s hard to think of a more daring and bold American film made in the last 30 years than David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET.

While other films that reach similar cult status come and go (Is PULP FICTION still the film its fans believed it to be in 1994?), BLUE VELVET remains quite an established American original.

• How does BLUE VELVET take primary elements of scene construction and blend them to have such a powerful effect on the audience?

• How has BLUE VELVET’s approach to acting - one that exists outrageously outside the bounds of an ordinary, realist approach - so charged the film with such spectacular, raw energy?

• How does establishing traditional genre elements (hero/villain construction, mystery plot line, love interest in crisis, etc.) and then leaving those very details in a sketchy, unclear hue serve Lynch’s style so powerfully?

• While it is easy to link the national firestorm of controversy associated with BLUE VELVET to the film’s near destruction of the myth of small town America and to the film’s sadomasochistic preoccupations, what are the film’s less obvious cinematic (directorial) intentions that get so deeply under our skin?

• How has Lynch’s surrealist eye infused the visual construction and the aural dimensions of the film so effectively?

Visual Consultant Thomas Ethan Harris probes underneath the surface of Lynch’s best film to uncover how to make a true screen original.

Our DECONSTRUCTING BLUE VELVET seminar is intended for both filmmakers and film lovers as a Master Class in Screen Direction and as a rare opportunity to discover how visionary filmmakers embed their personal and artistically interpretive voice into all aspects of visual and aural construction. We will be dissecting BLUE VELVET scene by scene (and sometimes shot by shot and visual signifier to visual signifier) to reinvestigate how directorial choices made in both production and post-production elicit such a profound and often primal response in the viewer.

Special Ticket Prices: $20 General, $15 Student/Senior, $12 Cinematheque Members.
180 min. | No passes accepted for this or any other specially-priced program.
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian • Thu, Jan 30, 2014 • 7:30pm

Films in this Series at the Egyptian

Thu, Jan 23, 2014 - 7:30pm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 7:30pm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - 7:30pm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Wed, Apr 16, 2014 - 7:30pm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Wed, Apr 23, 2014 - 7:30pm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Thu, Apr 24, 2014 - 7:30pm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Wed, May 28, 2014 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
New Film Clips!
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
New Film Clips!
Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
Wed, Sep 10, 2014 - 7:30pm
Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian
Thu, Sep 18, 2014 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre
New Film Clips!
Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - 7:30pm
Egyptian Theatre