I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, David Lynch is simply one of the greatest directors on the planet. He’s the only director I can think of who treats all of his films (well, most) as pieces of art. They’re all unique experiences and take you on such captivating and hypnotic journeys which you’ll never forget. I think the reason why some people don’t like Lynch is because they don’t watch his films properly. I think for the best effect, you’ve got to switch the lights off, don’t speak throughout its running time and don’t even go to the room. Also, don’t ask questions when something weird happens just embrace it and go along with it. If you follow these instructions with an open mind, then you are sure to fall under the spell of Lynch.
These instructions are no different for his underrated 1992 masterpiece, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Fire Walk with Me is an absurd and often disturbing story which follows the final tragic week of Laura Palmer, the famous homecoming queen who got brutally bumped off in the fabulous Twin Peaks TV series. However, whilst the TV series gets endless praise (and deservedly so, especially that unforgettable season finale which feels like spending 45 magical minutes in the Club Silencio!) Fire Walk With Me is met with nothing but criticism. When the film fist came out it was notoriously bashed by critics and audiences alike. Of course one problem at this time was that few people had actually seen the final episodes of season 2 because the network started messing around with the time slots, thus no one really understood what was going on. The film is also a lot different in tone to the TV series as represented by the opening shot of a TV being blown up. It’s a much darker tone and atmosphere and I think it works incredibly well because of it, but audiences weren't ready to leave behind the TV series, which had slowly became a failure, thanks to the stupid television network.
The film opens strangely. It introduces two new detective characters, investigating a suspiciously similar murder to Laura's in a suspiciously similar town to Twin Peaks. However, this town isn't the charming town that Twin Peaks is. It's a much grimier, darker and depressed land where every place has adverse names. The locals are also weirder and angrier, which is understandable if they live in a caravan site called, "Fat Trout Trailer Park". It's a suitably strange opening that seems to have little to do with the film that follows. Nevertheless it is very interesting and evokes a strange atmosphere, just like Twin Peaks did. The film also reaches its surrealist high point which I won't spoil. All I'll say is that it features the wonderful Dale Cooper, David Bowie, a security camera and the black lodge to a seriously unsettling effect. The film is full of strange moments, but this is one of the most frightening.
After this though, the film really starts. It's one year later and we see the iconic Twin Peaks sign alongside Angelo Badalamenti's incredible score... It feels like we're back home. However, Fire Walk With Me presents Twin Peaks as a much more sinister town. We don't get comic relief from supporting characters, we just become immersed in Laura Palmer's world. Despite being dead in the series, Laura was always the most interesting character and here we really get to delve into her wonderful character. There's a very sad atmosphere throughout the film, because we know how it's all going to end. Laura's life is really quite a mad one. She's basically a cocaine-addicted prostitute, yet she's only a girl who's crying out for help. No one really knows her, not even her best friend Donna who is the opposite of the seductive Laura.
Fire Walk With Me is full of masterful sequences. Of course there are those wonderful dream scenes which David does so well, but there are also some intense moments too. One of my favourite moments is when Leland is toying with Laura at the dinner table. The atmosphere is so suffocating in that scene, it's so powerful. Laura's final moments are also very dark and powerful stuff. The splashes of heavy surrealism and symbolism also make the film even deeper, richer and sensuous. Who exactly is BOB? Is he real, or is he a metaphor for the evil inside us? What is the black lodge? Who is The Man From Another Place? All of these elements (and many more) serve to make Fire Walk With Me a memorable and unsettling experience.
The complaints I have with the film are minor. I would've liked more scenes with BOB because I just think he's such a fascinating and frankly frightening villain. I also would've liked more evidence of the love between Laura and James Hurley, but this doesn't hurt the film much at all. Fire Walk With Me is a flawed masterpiece from David Lynch. it's got a strong nightmarish atmosphere and is full of amazing immersing moments such as the hypnotic stroboscopic bar scene. It's a wonderful companion piece to the series. Fire Walk With Me is a strange and unforgettable journey which really gets under your skin and stays there. I thought the ending was pretty much perfect. Tragically sad and powerful, yet strangely hopeful.
Fire Walk With Me is a stupendous film and one which I think is even better than the TV series. It dares to shed light on its most interesting character, Laura Palmer, who was never really explored in-depth in the series, although her presence was still strong. It’s a hallucinatory experience and features even more surrealism than the TV series, yet it has a very coherent plot for a David Lynch movie, although some parts still bewilder such as, the David Bowie cameo and the monkey who speaks. However, whilst these moments infuriate some, I find them magically mesmerising, dream-like and atmospheric
I don’t really know why this film is hated and ignored. I love it and I think that people should come into the film with an open mind and knowing that it’s different from the series.
What are your thoughts on Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With me?