“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.”
A quarter of a century ago, a TV show had more pre-premier hype than anything I had ever seen at that point. I can still remember the ads as clear as day, with a little old fella saying, “She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic”. Everyone was obsessed with finding out who killed Laura Palmer before the first episode of Twin Peaks even went to air. I wasn’t obsessed, I was 10 years old. But the anticipation of this show was so huge, that even as a 10 year old, I knew about it. Then the show happened. Some people really loved it, most were confused by its weirdness. And after two seasons, Twin Peaks was no more.
Ever since, the years have been very kind to Twin Peaks, taking it from cult classic, to misunderstood classic, to out and out masterpiece. With the announcement that David Lynch was bringing the show back with a new season all these years later, it was finally the boot in the ass I needed to actually watch the original. I think my reaction in 2015 was pretty similar to how people felt at the time. Season one was amazing, while season two was hit and miss at best. But the hits were enough to make the misses worth sitting through. Having finished the show, I also knew there was no way I wasn’t going to see the follow up movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
A year before the killing of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) that would set the TV show in motion, FBI agents Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) are sent to investigate a murder in an Oregon town not so far from the titular berg. The murder victim shows signs very similar to the Laura Palmer case that would be so thoroughly examined in the TV show.
Cut to Twin Peaks, where we get to follow Laura in the lead up to her grizzly demise. While Twin Peaks the TV show told us a lot about Laura’s debaucherous life in the lead up to her murder, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me shows it in the kind of explicit detail that a network TV show never could. The drug use, the insanely complicated love lives of the story’s high school students. And because this movie was made for people who had already seen the show, we can see her killer making their way to the killing as well. All this, plus FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) building the case that would lead him to being the hero of the TV show.
As someone who has binged the series and this movie in the space of about a month, I found Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me entertaining enough, but not quite an essential addition to the Twin Peaks universe. David Lynch’s style is so strong, that it feels like part of the same story visually. But story wise, some aspects just feel a little tacked on, or grasping at straws to justify the movie’s existence. But the one thing the movie does really well, is show that David Lynch and this story were never really meant for network TV. The extra leeway for sex, language and nudity makes the seediness of this world seem more dangerous and threatening than it ever did on the show.