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Twin Peaks wasn't for everyone I think it is fair to say. When David Lynch's show hit the airwaves it divided opinion, it was either a masterpiece or a nonsensical waste of time. I fall into the former category, I loved it. In the days before internet downloads, information overload and spoilers everywhere you look, I remember the wait between the end of season 1 and the beginning of season 2 was a nightmare as it left it on such a cliffhanger. (Season 2 never lived up to that great first season, but that's a story for another review)
By the time Twin Peaks had ended, it had built up quite the cult following. Plenty of fan fiction, fan clubs etc all begging David Lynch for more Twin Peaks. He duly obliged, releasing a film, 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me' in 1992 that was, if possible, even more offbeat than the show. David Lynch being the unconventional man he is, rather than wrap up the cliffhanger of sorts from the end of season 2, he made a prequel, which was actually adapted from the 'The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer' novel, itself an authorised spin-off from the show. The film was beset by various problems from its inception, including several of the series cast refusing to return, Kyle McLachlan agreeing to return in a very limited role (requiring a complete re-write as he was to have been the star), and co-creator Mark Frost, having fallen out with Lynch, declining to get involved. The omens weren't good...
Sheryl Lee - Laura Palmer
Ray Wise - Leland Palmer
Mädchen Amick - Shelly Johnson
Dana Ashbrook - Bobby Briggs
Phoebe Augustine - Ronette Pulaski
David Bowie - Phillip Jeffries
Eric Da Re - Leo Johnson
Miguel Ferrer - Albert Rosenfield
Pamela Gidley - Teresa Banks
Heather Graham - Annie Blackburn
Chris Isaak - Special Agent Chester Desmond
Frances Bay - Mrs. Tremond
Moira Kelly - Donna Hayward
Peggy Lipton - Norma Jennings
David Lynch - Gordon Cole
James Marshall - James Hurley
Jürgen Prochnow - Woodsman
Harry Dean Stanton - Carl Rodd
Kiefer Sutherland - Agent Sam Stanley
Lenny Von Dohlen - Harold Smith
Grace Zabriskie - Sarah Palmer
Kyle MacLachlan - Special Agent Dale Cooper
The eagle-eyed among you would have noticed it was a very eclectic cast, with some decent actors in there, plus people like Chris Isaak and David Bowie!
PLOT (such as it is)
You may to have to bear with me here, as this is a very difficult film to summarise, even for fans like me. The film essentially tells the story of the last 7 days of Laura Palmer, leading up to her murder, which is where the tv show Twin Peaks starts; however, running parallel to that is the investigation of the murder of a girl who is killed in a very similar way to how we know Laura Palmer will later be killed. Once the character of Laura Palmer is introduced, the film takes on the blackest of tones, and knowing what we do of how things turned out on the show, deals with some very uncomfortable subjects such as incest (albeit engineered by her father being possessed by the demon 'Bob') and torture and several other uncomfortable scenes.
The films delves deep into Laura Palmer's psyche, which we can see is deeply disturbed (who wouldn't be) and very much on the edge of sanity. Sheryl Lee's performance as Palmer is incredibly good, as we see the sad breakdown of someone who wants to destroy her own innocence before 'Bob' can fully take it. The fact we know her ultimate fate makes it all the more poignant. What else happens? A lot of pretty random stuff. David Bowie's character pops in from another dimension spouting various nonsense then disappears, familiar faces from the show pop in and out with no real reason given, frequent references are made to events in the show that then go nowhere.
As a fan of the show, even I don't know what to make of the film. It makes little sense to fans, and no sense at all to people unfamiliar with the show. It feels at times like someone has stitched together a lot of scenes on the cutting room floor, and tried to make a narrative from them. I suppose Lynch would say the film is a reflection of Palmer, all messed up, dreamy, nightmarish, strange...but fans wanted more than an arty film student project. What is the film? is it horror? psychological drama? As a fan of a lot of horror films, I am happy enough to watch most things, but the film does push right to the limits of acceptability with the treatment of Laura towards the end, I felt very uncomfortable watching; maybe that was the point.
There are good points. The film is shot fantastically well, and is very visual in its storytelling, and it is nice to revisit the characters, strange as the story they find themselves in is. Lynch does throw a lot of 'easter eggs' in, that fans of the show will see and understand, and the cast are an interesting bunch to watch, that's for sure. (I enjoyed Keifer Sutherland's performance especially). The soundtrack is also excellent, really capturing the surrealism and strangeness of the film.
Why did I buy the blu-ray, if my review seems as negative as it seems? I love the show and, having the collector mentality I do, have to have this to complement it. Silly I know, but that's me...
The blu-ray doesn't really add much to previous releases. Lynch refuses to do commentaries on any of his films so you know you are not getting that, but we do get a decent widescreen transfer, upgraded sound quality, a short 'making of' feature shot at the time (1992), and an excellent booklet full of discussion and facts about the film. Apparently Lynch wanted to make a directors cut (what the heck would THAT look like?!) but the French studio that financed the film will not release any of the footage. It was a commercial and critical flop, I'm guessing they bear a grudge....
As I said earlier, very tough film to review. It is very unlike anything else you will probably see, and for that alone may be worth watching, but it is very dark and disturbing, albeit done very creatively.