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#TBT - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

#TBT – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

| On 09, Oct 2014

Was it a good idea to revisit the world of Twin Peaks and witness the final seven days of Laura Palmer? After the ratings decline and eventual cancellation after season two, writer/director David Lynch thought so.
 
The critical and commercial success story of the 1990 television series,  ABC-TV executives pressured co-creators Lynch and Mark Frost to solve the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer by the end of season one. Lynch himself has said solving Laura’s murder prematurely, would of “killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.” Laura’s murder was solved in the middle of the second season, but subsequent story lines and changing time slots torpedoed the series viewership and led to the inevitable cancellation.
 
But Lynch could not let go the mill town with seedy underbelly and just a month after cancellation, plans were underway for spinoff feature film. By this time, co-creator Frost parted ways with Lynch after the stressful second season, and instead directed Storyville.
 
Lynch’s personal obsession fed the desire to continue the story. “I couldn’t get myself to leave the world of Twin Peaks. I was in love with the character of Laura Palmer and her contradictions: radiant on the surface but dying inside. I wanted to see her live, move and talk. I was in love with that world and I hadn’t finished with it. But making the movie wasn’t just to hold onto it; it seemed that there was more stuff that could be done.”
 
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Series star Kyle MacLachlan fearing being typecast and disappointed in the decline of quality of the second season, was reluctant to reprise his role of Special Agent Dale Cooper. He eventually agreed to return in a limited capacity, with part of his character being rewritten for FBI agent Chester Desmond, played by Chris Isaak.
 
Two of the three sexy female students also opted not to return. Lara Flynn Boyle had a busy schedule including Wayne’s World so the part of Donna Hayward was portrayed by Moira Kelly, while Sherilyn Fenn has claimed two different reasons on why she did not return. In 1995, Fenn stated she “was extremely disappointed in the way the second season got off track. As far as Fire Walk with Me, it was something that I chose not to be a part of.” Possibly hearing there may be a reboot, she changed her tune in 2014, saying there was a scheduling conflict with Of Mice and Men. Either way, her character was cut from the film.  
 
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was entered into the Feature Film competition at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, but was met with boos and jeers by the French audience. The film soon met with harsh reviews worldwide and was a commercial failure.
 
Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer is the main plotline, focusing on the last days of her life. Lee was a local girl originally casted as Laura’s corpse, but based on the picnic video scene with Donna, Lynch decided to add flashback scenes in addition to the part of Laura’s lookalike brunette cousin, Maddy Fergsuson.
 
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Fire Walk with Me is more a fan film reediting of flashback scenes that could have been included throughout the series. In a 134 minute chronological sequence, the story reveals very little past Laura’s breasts and a dancing woman in a red dress with blue rose. The film was made for fans of the TV series already intimately familiar with events leading up to Laura’s death. The attempt to expand Laura’s sex life and drug use was more to pull people into an R-rated version of a prime time series, then to reveal more insight to what is going on in Twin Peaks. 
 
This is where the theatrical cut of the movie fails. Some questions have been answered and some more questions have been asked with the recent release of Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery, that may or may not have saved this edit.
 
Opening up a year before Laura’s death, FBI agents Desmond (Isaak) and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) investigate the death of Theresa Banks, starting with clues from Lil the dancer, a rare visual drop into David Lynch’s world of the absurd.  The investigation is formulaic until the mysterious disappearance of Desmond after touching a green ring under a trailer. Long-lost agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) appears briefly in the FBI Philadelphia headquarters, but soon disappears. Both plot devices are never resolved, which is unfortunate since these scenes and a brief return to the red curtain dream room and the painting on the wall sequence are the only bits of a Lynchonian universe we get to witness.  
 
The rest of the film drags its way through Laura’s last days as a bored and troubled high school senior. We get to see Laura discover the missing pages of her diary, figure out her father is possessed by Bob and has been molested by him for several years and other scenes referred to during the series.
 
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The film ends with (Spoiler Alert) Laura’s death in the abandoned train car. We are then transported to the  Black Lodge, site of the bizarre red curtain room with the Man from Another Place (aka backward-talking dwarf), who is seated on the left of one-armed Mike as his “arm”. They explain to Bob they want their garmonbozia, or all their “pain and sorrow,” which enables Bob to heal Leland’s wound. At the end, Laura’s “spirit” notices Agent Cooper at her side, and for a time the young girl is very pained and saddened until her angel appears, at which point her relief is expressed through tears and laughter.
 
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The film does not come close to the dramatic heights of the first season, or even some episode’s of the disappointing second season. It is ironic that for a story that is so closely attached to director Lynch and his small-town dark side themes, Fire Walk with Me has the least amount of absurd quality he is known for.  It is a forgettable epilogue to a one promising series that hopefully will get its true epitaph with the upcoming Showtime series.
 
 Fire Walk with Me is homage to Lynch’s style, made by the director himself. Commercially, the series is Lynch’s highlight. Artistically the film is a poor attempt to capitalize on his brief foray into popularity and thankfully sent him back to the surrealism, where he is a master. It is unfortunate that over 90 minutes of scenes have been deleted, for they may hold the clues that could place this theatrical cut up there with Lynch’s best work. 
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