Justin does Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

FWWM_US_poster“Do you know who I am? I am the arm, and I sound like this…”

The Scoop: 1992 R, directed by David Lynch and starring Sheryl Lee, Moira Kelly, and Ray Wise

Tagline: Meet Laura Palmer… In a town where nothing is as it seems… And everyone has something to hide.

Summary Capsule: Twin Peaks gets an epilogue that is as confusing and bewildering as any of Lynch’s other works

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Justin’s Rating: But… where’s… Annie?

Justin’s Review: In the history of injustice and wasted opportunities, the cinematic follow-up to the cult TV show Twin Peaks is at the top of the list.  So let’s go back to 1996, when a much younger Justin and his college friends were really getting into Twin Peaks thanks to discovering VHS tapes with the entire series on it.  Knowing that there were only two seasons, the friends would ration out the show to one episode per day, huddling together every afternoon to watch the latest installment.  And then came the ending, the sad, frustrating cliffhanger that had everyone in the room shouting, “NOOOO!”

If you haven’t watched the TV series, you may not want to proceed with this review, as it’s going to spoil the show.  Head here instead to read my review of the series and hopefully be encouraged to check it out.

So the conclusion had FBI Agent Dale Cooper traveling to the mystical Black Lodge to save his girlfriend.  Lots of stuff happens there, but the end result is that his body is taken over by a malevolent force known as BOB, and the series concludes with him looking into a mirror in his hotel while BOB looks back.  The cries of “Where’s Annie?” echoed in our ears and we were just heartbroken that this would be the end of a terrific show.

And then we discovered that a year later, David Lynch was able to make a movie follow-up to the show, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (TP:FWWM).  There was much rejoicing in our dorm room and hope that we’d finally see all of these awesome plot lines be tied up.

We shouldn’t have bothered.  Lynch obviously had no intention of providing any sort of satisfying conclusion to anything, but instead went full-out gonzo.  It’s… interesting… which is the best thing that I can say about it.  It’s Twin Peaks without the hand of Mark Frost (the other co-creator of the show) giving it some sanity.  And it’s bound to disappoint anyone looking for resolution for the show.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is both a prequel to the series and a sequel.  It’s mostly the story of Laura Palmer — the dead girl whose investigation is the catalyst for the show — in the week leading up to her death.  There’s also some parts where the FBI is investigating a second girl’s murder, although it that whole track feels like a dead end.  Mostly, however, we’re seeing Laura’s descent into despair as she is assaulted by evil forces and succumbs to drugs and dark sex.

So there are several problems with this film which caused much pain and frustration to Twin Peaks fans.  In my opinion, the biggest problem is that the show wasn’t really about the murder of Laura Palmer.  That was the spark that got things underway, but the show was about the quirky town, its residents, and how all of them have secrets going on.  The show was about the awesome interactions of these characters and how their relationships developed.  It was also interesting and full of cool ideas, two attributes that I cannot apply to the film.

Really, nobody was clamoring for a look into how Laura died.  We already know who killed her, and a prequel wasn’t going to give us deeper insight into this world.  It was just biding time, saying things we knew already, and wasting, wasting precious screentime that could’ve been used to send the show off properly.  I point to Firefly’s movie sequel, Serenity, as a way to do it right.

TP:FWWM suffered from a lot of cast and crew fallout as well.  Series regulars Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn and Richard Beymer didn’t come back for the movie, and Kyle MacLachlan was so soured on the second season that he insisted his part be reduced for the film.  So we got a lot of new characters, such as those played by David Bowie and Jack Bauer, and one notable cast replacement.  But really?  It wasn’t the same at all.  It was like a photocopy of Twin Peaks that was crudely made into a semi-softcore porn film, with none of the joy and snappy dialogue of the show.

If you’re a dedicated Twin Peaks fan, it’s a coin-toss whether or not watching the movie is going to be beneficial to you.  As I said, there are no new revelations nor a fitting conclusion to the show.  Leaving Twin Peaks on a cliffhanger is just as well as watching this.  Still, it’s more Twin Peaks and maybe you did want to see how Laura died.  Maybe you wanted to see what the show would’ve been like if Lynch was the only creative force involved.  I don’t know.  But it’s here if you want it.

"Like my man-shaped balloon?  It's floaty!"

“Like my man-shaped balloon? It’s floaty!”

Intermission!

  • Robert Engels claims the script that he and Lynch wrote is much longer than the version that Lynch actually filmed. He claims there is enough story for a sequel. Indeed, as with many other Lynch films, about five hours of footage was shot. Many of the scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor involved characters who appeared in the television series but not in the movie.
  • The zigzag pattern on the floor of the Black Lodge is similar to the pattern on the floor of the lobby of Henry’s house in Eraserhead, also directed by David Lynch.
  • According to writer Robert Engels, he and director David Lynch originally conceived this film as the first in a series of of films exploring the mythology of the Black Lodge. To that effect, the two inserted four characters as “outs” with which to continue the story: Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie), Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis) and Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak). The critical and box-office failure of this film, however, caused Lynch to abandon any plans for sequels.
  • One pivotal scene deleted from the final film revealed the fate of Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) after the ending of the TV series. After escaping the Black Lodge, Anne was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that she was wearing the Owl Ring that belonged to Theresa Banks and Laura Palmer. A nurse then took the ring, and started laughing maniacally.
  • The movie originally ended showing Dale sitting in the Black Lodge, comforting Laura after she entered. It then cut to the last scene of the TV series, with Harry breaking down the door of the bathroom and finding Dale smashing his head into the mirror and laughing. Dale tries to act like nothing happened, but is dragged off to bed. This was to confirm that it was Dale’s doppelganger that escaped the Black Lodge.

Groovy Quotes

Man from Another Place: Do you know who I am? I am the arm, and I sound like this… [Whoops]

Harold Smith: What does BOB say?
Laura: He says he wants to be me, or he’ll kill me.

Gordon: HE’S GONE! HE’S GONE! ALBERT, CALL THE FRONT DESK!
Albert: I’ve got the front desk now. He was never here.

The Log Lady: [to Laura] When this kind of fire starts, it is very hard to put out. The tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy.

Annie Blackburn: [to Laura] My name is Annie. I’ve been with Dale and Laura. The good Dale is in the lodge and can’t leave. Write it in your diary.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Twin Peaks (the series)
  • Mulhulland Drive

2 Comments

  1. One of the few movies that’s actually given me a full blown headache with how crazysauce it is. (I was younger then and didn’t realize that trying to apply basic logic to a Lynch movie is an exercise in futility and a sure start down the path to madness).

  2. Pingback: Catch up on cult movie reviews for the week! | Bio Break

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