Director: David Lynch
Writers: David Lynch and Robert Engels
Starring: Sheryl Lee, Moira Kelly, Ray Wise, Kyle MacLachlan, Dana Ashbrook, Phoebe Augustine, David Bowie, Eric Da Re, Kiefer Sutherland, Harry Dean Stanton, Heather Graham and David Lynch
Twin Peaks was a ground-breaking TV show that has stood the test of time, even though it was cancelled after two seasons. It captivated a devoted cult following quickly with its central mystery surrounding the death of Laura Palmer. After being cancelled, David Lynch couldn’t leave the world behind and wanted to tell more of Laura’s story. The result is the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, that works as both a prequel and sequel to the TV series. It is a mix of the humour and quirkiness of the original show with all of the strangeness and horror of Lynch’s other feature films.
Fire Walk With Me has just received a Criterion Collection Blu-ray and it’s a perfect time to re-visit the divisive film. As Lynch himself says – ‘get your bag of popcorn and get into it’.
All of the usual Lynch moments are here, the strange dream-like feel to everything. The absurd humour that you’re not sure is supposed to be funny or not. The great collection of strange and weird characters and unique moments. It’s the strange and wonderful world of Twin Peaks that was introduced in the series with even more strangeness to it.
Fire Walk With Me is two almost completely separate stories in the Twin Peaks universe. The extended prologue deals with the investigation of Teresa Banks’s murder, which is mentioned in the TV series, but never fully explored. The rest of the film deals with the last seven days of Laura Palmer’s life, ending exactly where the TV show starts. The prologue is more interesting as it expands on the universe and introduces many elements that would be featured more heavily in season three, that aired twenty-five years after Fire Walk With Me. This is the first mention of Judy, who would become an important character in the Twin Peaks lore.
The two different chapters to the film have completely different tones and a general feel. The prologue feels closer to the TV show, even though there are only a few characters from the show. The quirky odd humour is almost exclusively in the first part. Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) story is darker and depressing. It feels more distant from the show, even though all the characters and settings are present.
The film has a great sense of impending doom. Even if you didn’t have any idea what was going to happen to Laura, you can feel that something is happening. It’s an oppressive feeling. There’s a clock that keeps on appearing, as if it’s counting down the final moments and you can feel that hanging over every scene.
The TV show reveals a lot about Laura’s dark life but seeing it on screen puts it in a whole new context. The film deals with the alienation, abuse and depression that Laura felt during her last few days of her life. Leland (Ray Wise), her father, is abusing her mentally, physically and sexually. Driving her to a state of madness. Laura doesn’t realise it is her dad but sees the manifestation of Bob (Frank Silva). The film shows the struggle that Laura goes through when trying to come to terms with what is happening. It’s haunting and dark.
Sheryl Lee’s performance is breath-taking. You can feel every emotion that she is going through, the confusion and disorientation, the fear, the depression. It’s all there on Lee’s face. There’s a moment when she walks into a bar, when she’s on the verge of figuring everything out, and her face is on the verge of tears and there is so much hurt and pain in her expression.
The music is absolutely stunning. All of the themes from the TV show are here along with new compositions from Angelo Badalamenti. It’s mesmerising and emotional and puts you directly into the mood of watching Twin Peaks and is just brilliant in every single moment. When the original theme song plays over the welcome to Twin Peaks sign, it puts you right back into the show. The scene in the club, with the loud repetitive throbbing music is brilliant, purely because of the music. Badalamenti’s music is a vital part of Twin Peaks.
When Fire Walk With Me was originally released it was met with general disdain. Critics and fans disliked it. In the years since opinions have soften and the film has been reappraised as one of Lynch’s better films. The contrast in tone to the TV show is one of the main reasons people reacted strongly against the film. If you watch the thirty episodes of the original Twin Peaks and then watch the film, it clashes massively. This isn’t fan service, it’s a David Lynch film through and through. It expands on the show without relying on nostalgia. Now it’s a stepping stone to the madness that is season three.
The new Criterion Collection includes a new transfer of the film, overseen by Lynch. It looks incredible and the sound is perfect. The set comes with a load of extras, including The Missing Pieces, the 90 minute feature of deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me. Interviews with Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Grace Zabriskie and David Lynch, which are insightful and interesting. There is also a 50ish page booklet that includes extracts from Lynch on Lynch, that gives a lot of detail on the inspiration and creation of Twin Peaks, both the series and the film. It’s a must have for any Twin Peaks fan.
Fire Walk With Me both expands the universe of Twin Peaks and works as a stand alone film. The first half is more interesting with it’s strange dream like sequences and the first mentions of Judy and the Blue Rose. The second half is a depressing dark tale about abuse and Laura Palmer’s final days are haunting. It’s an excellent film whether you love the series, hate the series of you’ve never seen it at all.