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Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on March 27, 2015

After a second run through the series made me more fond of the movie when it came time to revisit it.  I appreciated even more how the film recreates the feel of the best moments of the show, but taking the nightmare darkness to a new level.  I appreciated even the prologue scenes with Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland… not strictly necessary (except for the stuff about the ring) but starting things off with a lighter tone (but not as goofy as the series got) before plunging deeper and deeper into the troubled life of Laura Palmer.  The humor helps draw the viewer in, and then gradually gives way to material that’s more and more disturbing.  The build-up is slow, but masterfully handled in a way that leads us to very dark places indeed.

Lynch’s vision of good and evil is realized here with gripping intensity.  There is an evil like the kind seen in the heart-pounding “Power and the Glory” scene, as Laura and Donna are pawed and taken advantage of and treated like less than objects.  It’s harrowing, chilling, the dreadful atmosphere aided by nerve-shattering strobe lights and music that sounds like doom itself.  Then there’s the evil of incestuous child abuse, an evil so horrifying that it’s like the product of another world.  Lynch’s worldview seems to posit that good and evil are always at war, have been always been at war, and will always be at war.  No one wins, but in a sense good always loses… because as long as evil exists, good is never truly good.  It’s a bleak, unsettling vision.  Lynch’s earnest rooting for good is small comfort when such horrors exist.

The new Blu-Ray edition includes the long-awaited deleted and extended scenes, an hour and a half of them.  While there’s some interesting material here, most of it is the stuff that separates the movie from the TV show.  There are a number of throwaway bits involving secondary characters, including almost every season 1 cast member (with the notable exceptions of Catherine Martell and the Hornes).  If you imagine Fire Walk With Me as a 4-episode “prequel” run of the show, these scenes are the things you’d be mildly interested in or amused by while waiting for the good bits.  Does anyone really need to see Pete and Josie bicker with the bank manager about a piece of lumber?  I think not.

Other scenes are not especially missed in the context of the movie but are still a good watch, like Isaak’s final confrontation with the sheriff.  Most valuable are the last few deleted scenes, which provide some tantalizing bits of epilogue for the “Twin Peaks” universe, including more of the beloved Agent Cooper.  These would have been out of place after the film’s climax, but serve as excellent supplementary material.  What the deleted scenes don’t do is shed much light on the mysteries of the film.  A few tidbits are explained a little more, but mostly the film retains its wonderful inscrutability.  I don’t believe that Lynch ever does “weird for the sake of being weird”.  The one scene I might level that charge against is the one pictured above: the appearance of “Lil”.  It doesn’t have enough weight to come off as much more than kooky affectation (especially because Isaak explains it all in the next scene).  But the other unexplained moments of the film resonate on a gut level, even while the head tries to make sense of them.  Lynch is often at his best when he’s working purely from the unconscious.  Some kinds of evil are best expressed with images not meant to be comprehended… the facts of them are too awful to be measured in objective facts.  Rating: Very Good (88)


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