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Film Club - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

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Mark Kermode Mark Kermode | 13:37 UK time, Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The second Kermode Uncut Film Club choice is David Lynch's magnificent 1992 horror movie. Watch this introduction and let me know what you think of the film.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Looking forward to this one, but a bit concerned that only a couple of films into Film Club and a clear pattern is emerging. Are all these films going to be Dr K's personal favourites, hand-picked so that everyone agrees with him how great they are? Or can we expect one or two that the Doc really hates, but other people love? Can I suggest "Transformers: Dark of the Moon", ideally in 3D...

  • Comment number 2.

    Mark, I'm glad to see that you and me see eye-to-eye on this film. I remember renting the DVD a few years ago after I first finished the Twin Peaks series and absolutely loved the film. It did not bother me at all that questions from the series were left open or that the film was a prequel rather than a sequel. What I saw was just marvelous filmmaking, with some truly creepy moments that even managed to scare someone like me, which in itself is an achievement. After rewatching the film recently for the first time in years, the film holds up well and still remains one of my favorite Lynch films. Sheryl Lee absolutely gives a wonderful performance and the first thirty minutes of the film surrounding the Theresa Banks character contains some of the best moments Lynch ever put on film. Truly an underrated film that deserves a re-evaluation.

  • Comment number 3.

    I ruddy love this movie. I came to this before watching the TV series. One of the reasons I adore cinema full stop is because of one particular scene in Fire Walk With Me: The Pink Room. It's unsettling sleaze, those migraine inducing strobe lights, the over-saturated reds, the sticky dance floor in the cloying heat, that pulsing naked flesh, the speech, (so muffled you're required to read subtitles that make no earthly sense) and, most importantly, 'that' music. God, I love that music. "I Am The Great Went..." Truly inspired.

  • Comment number 4.

    If I am being honest Mark, I really did not like this film. I haven't seen the series that David Lynch created but I am sure it might have explained a few elements for me. On a whole, it lacked the great suspense that Lynch created in the nightmare feeling style that was in Eraserhead (1977), I really wasn't impressed by Laura Palmer's acting and the end of it I thought it felt confused and messy with its' story.

    This is not Lynch's worst film.

    His Worst Film: Dune (1984)

    His Best Film: Tie: Mulholland Drive (2001) and The Elephant Man (1981)

  • Comment number 5.

    I watched it a couple of weeks ago in preparation. Sheryl Lee is pretty good but the rest is not.

    [Spoilers Contained Below]

    Just to lay my cards on the table I am a Twin Peaks fan but I think Fire Walk with Me (FWM) simply does not work as a film. There simply isn’t any plot: the Teresa Banks focused opening is entirely unnecessary, it seems to exist just so Agent Cooper can appear (btw David Bowie isn’t that bad in his cameo role); then in Twin Peaks all you have is a clearly troubled girl sinking deeper into the abyss. The crucial problem of Laura Palmer’s story though is that there is no tension between her sweet public persona and her private decent into the Black Lodge. This does indeed underlie the TV series but the film is predicated on that setup; FWM attempts run around claiming it’s a human when it knows deep down it’s a Cylon. They should have cut the beginning and reduced the number of characters to focus exclusively on Laura Palmer tragic life; characters seem to appear just because they were in the series rather than for any narrative reason.

    In short FWM does not have the depth of theme of the TV series: the deconstruction of the idealised American life; it does replace the theme but only with a void. One could argue that the Teresa Banks opening was necessary to convey the eternal cyclical nature of reality but this does not need to be at the expense of a solid through plot as Mulholland Drive (IMO Lynch’s best film), which has similar themes, shows in far more affecting manner. Further the idea of reality as a really (sic) a dream as conveyed through the TV set dissolves could easily been retained within my above changes. The dream sequences themselves were clearly the best aspect of FWM and Lynch has a particular flair for them. Also the dualistic, the ying and yang of the self wasn’t explored as it could have done, most obviously with Laura Palmer but more annoyingly with Leland Palmer; he is just a creep throughout. He should have been the all American family man whom Laura would never suspect of abusing her until it is undeniable; Bob should have been just Bob to Laura until very close to the end. If you know the series then it wouldn’t be much of a reveal but you could see the truth of some good men being evil.

    On a different tack the lack of restraints from the TV network harmed FWM. Lynch may have felt constricted with the constraints on the depiction of violence and nudity however he’s just gratuitous with little results. The scrungy violence, particularly the shooting by Bobby, is a lot less atmospheric and tense than, for example the second season opener. The red light lit cabin was ridiculously long, seemingly so we could get our eye in.

    As you rightly point out Mark Angelo Badalamenti’s music was as haunting as ever though the more newly written (I think) jazz pieces were less affecting.

    All in all FWM was a huge disappointment and a missed opportunity.

  • Comment number 6.

    Fire Walk With Me is an absolute mess of a film. The films' pacing is all over the place and Lynch's trademark surrealism is not wonderfully ridiculous, but hilariously bad. Also the film lacked suspence, a stong factor in other Lynch's films.

    However all the defaults cannot solely be blamed on Lynch due the films' difficult production history. Some of the actors from the T.V. series chose not to return, Kyle MacLachlan only agreed to play a cameo role as Special Agent Dale Cooper, and the strained collaboration between Lynch and co-creater Mark Frost put paid to the project. Not to mention the one of the sole purposes of the film was to serve as a prologue to the T.V. series and any loose ends that the T.V. series left unanswered due to its sudden cancellation.

    However despite the negative comments, the film is still morbidly fascinating and its interesting so see how Lynch tries to answer the questions of the T.V series in his own unique way. Thankfully Lynch perfected these skills when it came to rescuing his later 'television casulty' Mullholand Drive, one of the best and most intriguing films of the Noughties.

    At Fire Walk With Me's premiere at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, the film was booed by the audiences, and many accused Lynch of self-indulgency, including one filmmaker whose directorial debut was screened at the festival that year, and I quote;

    "After I saw Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me at Cannes, David Lynch had disappeared so far up his own AHEM that I have no desire to see another David Lynch movie until I hear something different. And you know, I loved him. I loved him"

    The filmmaker who made the above comment was none other than Quentin Tarantino, a filmmaker who in a few short years will become the poster boy and the spokesperson for epic cinematic self indulgency and, unlike Lynch, would wear the title proudly on his sleeves.

  • Comment number 7.

    I have a love/hate relationship with this film like no other. The first half of the film, featuring agents Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland investigating a pre-Laura Palmer case, right up to and including the insane scene between Kyle MacLachlan, Lynch himself and David Bowie ('let's not talk about Judy at all!') are probably my favourite scenes from any Lynch film.

    It is when we get to Twin Peaks, itself, ironically that I consider that the film goes off the rails.

    From here on in the film is unremmitingly dark. While I fully appreciate that the story of the last 7 days of Laura's life was never going to be a laugh-a-minute and that Lynch was given the freedom to be darker in the film than he would ever have been allowed to be on TV, I feel the greatest achievement of the TV series was the constant balance between light and shade. For every moment of darkness in the show - and there are many which still haunt me more than any horror film - there were moments of delightful eccentricity which balanced these out and helped you get through the nightmare.

    This approach survives the first half of the film. There is a real air of dread pervading the Issak scenes but it is married to and alleviated by some wonderful moments of humour. The second half abandon such scenes altogether for a full-on descent into hell. Just a few scenes here and there featuring the other characters in their day to day, often bizarre lives, would not have gone amiss.

    This situation is not helped by the fact that some key characters from the series are completely missing from the film while others have been recast (and not for the better).

    All in all it makes for an extremely difficult second-half watch which would be perfectly acceptable if not inconsistent with the series it was born out of and supposed to bookend.

  • Comment number 8.

    I haven't seen it for a long time, I like the film quite a a bit. It works fine however in even Twin Peaks' canon, it doesn't hold anything to the last episode which is probably the most daring piece of Television every made. In David Lynch's canon it would even be in my top 5 and his best film and the film that sums up David Lynch's worldview is "Blue Velvet".

  • Comment number 9.

    Three years ago I had the pleasure of meeting David Lynch when he was doing a lecture on transcendental meditation, I brought my copy of 'Fire Walk With Me' for him to sign and told him that it was my favorite of his films, to which he responded, and I'll never forget this, "Really? I like it too."

    I really love this movie and it has one of my all time favorite movie quotes, when Donna says 'If I had a nickel for every cigarette your mom smoked... I'd be dead.' Exquisite.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well made, well acted films are the norm for David Lynch. I'm not a fan of this one; or at least I wasn't when I last watched it. For me, it always reeked as a late cash-in that took away some of the charm and a lot of the mystique of Season 1. Laura Palmer's shenanigans before her death, like any number of other film examples (Star Wars prequels, Matrix sequels), shouldn't have been seen.
    I'm still a little surprised that a filmmaker of Lynch's calibre decided to enter into the let's-show-what-happened-before camp, and felt the need to explain himself. He better not pull it with Mulholland Drive.

    On a side note Doc, think long and hard about film three.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is a terrific flick. I'd seen the TV show on my own, and had loved it, but it was Dr Kermode's passion which made me chase up the sequel. And blimey, I'm glad that I did.

    This is an incredibly immersive and chilling film, and I find that the key is the characters. Not only was Lee brilliant as Laura, but whenever Ray Wise pops up in a film (X Men: First Class) or a TV show (Mad Men), I get a noticeable chill. After the programme and then this film, Leland Palmer remains one of the most terrifying, and most tragic, film characters of all time. And yeah, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me has one of the best scores of all time.

  • Comment number 12.

    I first got into the universe of Twin Peaks last year after playing the video game Deadly Premonition, which was heavily influence by the show. The show itself was my first introduction to the world of David Lynch, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    So when I finished watching the series I watched the film as it was described as a prequel/sequel. I was very disappointed with what I saw, I was still wrapped up in the universe of the show I loved and appeared to me to take a completely different turn and at times seemed to be extreme for the sake of it, and because it could because it wasn't confined by US TV censorship.

    Yet somehow this didn't put me off from giving Lynch another try. which was a very good decision on my part as I have been blown away by every film I have seen of his. The other day I made the decision to give Fire Walk With Me another chance, and this time I was able to appreciate it for what it is, a David Lynch film and not just a film sequel for Twin Peaks.

  • Comment number 13.

    I really like some of David Lynch's films: Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr., The Elephant Man and I absolutely LOVE "Lost Highway." But I have not seen Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me. Until Now.

    I had to start watching this film 3 times. First 2 I just couldn't sit through the beginning which I thought was horribly written and acted even worse.

    Only by the third time did I watch the whole film - at that point I got used to the weird character David Lynch plays, and that bizarre scene of the woman in red called Lil.

    There are scenes in the film, and I have to be honest, that I think are horrible. The scene with the car at a red light and the man yelling; I just didn't get it. And the first time the two officers go into the Police station.
    But, there are scenes that I could watch over and over again, and have done so; The scene I cant get enough of is the club scenes. Not because their half naked, but because the mood of that scenes is extraordinary and one particular close on Donnas character reminded me of Sean Young in Blade Runner.
    Another one is when the two girls are in the living room and the camera is shooting down at them. That great close up on character Laura Palmer as she gives that magnificent response to the question:
    "what it would feel like falling in space, would you slow down or go faster?"
    -Her response
    "...Faster and faster, and for the long time you wouldn't feel anything. And then you'd burst into fire, forever. And the Angels wouldn't help you, because they've all gone away."
    It makes me feel something, I cant really explain it but it's a kind of sadness that makes me happy.
    And in certain sections it's as scary as the best horror films I've ever seen (and that includes Takashi Miike's Audition)
    I dreaded watching this film because I thought I would hate it and it would be a waste of time. But it was a film that actually inspired me.
    It's not a perfect film. But it will definitely stir up some emotions inside of you.

  • Comment number 14.

    I first saw this film at the end of a 30-hour Twin Peaks marathon at university in about 1992. I've seen it several times since then and still don't know what to make of it. Sometimes it annoys me, sometimes it unnerves me, but, as with A Clockwork Orange, which also confounds me, I keep coming back to it.
    Worth noting for anyone who does intend to watch the series, this will ruin the show's central mystery as it was made for people who already knew whodunnit.

  • Comment number 15.

    TP:FWWM is one of the most terrifying horrors of all time. You either "get" the terror or you don't. I know that my personal nightmares are made with the same ingredients Lynch used to make this film. I am still as terrified of BOB now as I was when he first crawled through the TV and into my teenage bedroom many moons ago.

    I was/am a huge fan of the series and saw the film on the day of it's release and wasn't disappointed. What adds to the horror is that, from the off you know how it's going to end. Sheryl Lee is an incredibly emotive actress and rape alarms should be made using that bloodcurdling scream of hers.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'll begin my assessment by pointing out the quartet of things I liked most about "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" - Angelo Badalamenti's score, the performances of Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise and yet another chance to view the world through David Lynch's eyes.

    Badalamenti is a very underrated film composer, in my opinion. His most notable films are David Lynch projects, and it's no wonder, considering that he considers his own music to be "dark," "off-center" and "tragically beautiful." These are all qualities that I'd apply to Lynch's films. Nearly all the Badalamenti music I've heard evokes that balance between rural calm and the dark mist that shrouds the River Styx, such is the sense of mystery, foreboding and the disintegration of sanity.

    As for acting, it is almost always stylized to a point in Lynch's films. Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise are highly appealing. She burns too hot for her town to contain her, and he's too menacingly insane for the mere mask of manic facial expression. Great work, fun to watch if you don't have your mind set on acting akin to Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ralph Richardson. I enjoy a bit of fire walk when it comes to acting.

    But ultimately, it all comes down to the mind of David Lynch. I hadn't seen much of the "Twin Peaks" television series before viewing "Fire Walk With Me," and I think that helped matters - less expectation had built up, perhaps. I had seen many David Lynch films before, so I'm used to his fascinations and proclivities, including visual cues like flickering lights and odd, buzzing sounds. It's as if the characters in the film - and the viewer, for that matter - is the moth at the very moment before being fried with a flickering bug zapper. "Fire Walk With Me" is no "Eraserhead," "Elephant Man," "Blue Velvet" or even "Lost Highway," but it is fun for a David Lynch fan. Unfortunately, I think most of Lynch's films could be too inaccessible for the newcomer. The scenes with Lynch and Wise together were deliriously uncomfortable, deliciously so.

  • Comment number 17.

    Oh, and keep up the film club, Mark. I enjoy it immensely.

  • Comment number 18.

    Perfect! I've not been sleeping great recently, meaning my current woozy and somnambulant state is really the ideal one in which to enjoy a David Lynch film. Might even make it seem sort of ordinary... nahh, not likely. Backwards talking little people and ambient weirdness ahoy.

  • Comment number 19.

    Despite recently having a tweet-off with Mark with David Bowie quotes from this movie, I'm a little mixed in my feelings toward it.

    The strengths of the film are definitely Sheryl Lee, who is driven well by Ray Wise's sinister and manic performance, those beautiful pictures it puts on screen and the music - but these are things you tend to expect from Lynch. The most memorable scenes are when the visuals, music and Sheryl Lee work together. The death of Laura, the Red Room scenes and Laura's depature from the Red Room that the film ends on are masterful.

    I came into the film as a David Lynch fan and a Twin Peaks fan and it just doesn't feel satisfying in either category. While I think calling a David Lynch film incoherent would be an amusing concept, it definitely feels to me like a film that didn't know what it wanted to be. As you hinted in your intro, the title causes more problems than anything - if it had been just "Fire Walk With Me" and had removed a few more of the Twin Peaks characters it would have been stronger for it.

    As many have said it is far from his worst film but despite so many memorable scenes I would say the whole isn't greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Comment number 20.

    I remember seeing this back in 1992 with my then girlfriend, it was only our second date and she fell asleep after 25 mins! i thought that was it for our relationship but it went on for a while longer thankfully!

    Anyway, i digress, TPFWWM has all the stylistic tropes of Lynch's other work which i mostly enjoy, but to put it frankly the movie had none of the charm of the tv show, no one wanted to see a prequel to the TV show as Laura Palmer's backstory was part of the mystery of what happened to her and how she came to a grizzly end. The film anyway was mostly based on "The secret diary of Laura Palmer" book Lynch's daughter wrote published long before the film came out, so it was there if anyone was really interested in the days leading upto her death but the fans wanted the sequel not the prequel. The first 25 mins or so are the most interesting with Chris Isaak and Jack Bauer..er sorry kiefer sutherland! and the Bowie cameo, that material is fantastic, but as soon as we get to Twin Peaks the movie goes downhill for me with pointless revelations the fans already know ( eg - Leeland palmer was possesed by killer bob) and silly story device shoehorning in Agent Cooper to apease fans, which it didn't btw!What should be mentioned is the rumoured wealth of deleted footage that seems to have been lost then found forever,will it ever surface and will the longer more cohesive cut ever see the light of day? TPFWWM isn't a write off, the atmosphere is intense and Lynch's direction is first class, it's just a shame the script wasn't!

  • Comment number 21.

    Let me begin by saying that I've never seen the TV series, BUT since the movie is supposed to work on it's on, here's my opinion. I found it boring. I was so bored that in the end I couldn't even tell you if the performances were good or not. Yes, we understand what happens to the main character, but so what? The characters aren't likeable. It is not an interesting story at all and the so called terror is mildly disturbant at best if by then you are not sleeping. Perhaps its a symptom or effect of boredom... Sorry, on this one I can't agree with you, Doc. I only saw it because from time to time you praised it and so I saw it a few months ago. Tryed it twice... didn't do the trick. On it's own its boring, within the series context you've said it to be not satisfactory, so one is forced to say it is not a good movie @ all!

  • Comment number 22.

    It's definitely a misunderstood masterpiece and one of the very best films from David Lynch - (Is he ever going to make another film?)

  • Comment number 23.

    Fire Walk With Me is without doubt, my favourite David Lynch film ever. I was a huge fan of the series when it originally aired in the UK, forcing my poor gran and mum to tune in to BBC2 every week to watch. When the film came out, I really didn't get it. Like so many, I wanted answers to the TV series. It took a few repeat viewings for me to truly appreciate it.

    As far as I'm concerned, the film and the tv series fit together in a perfectly Lynchian way. The series was funny and quirky, but Lynch took the film in the other direction, and with very good reason - you cannot address the fall of Laura Palmer, with all the genuine horror that filled her life, and make it light and quirky. The film is the dark heart of Twin Peaks, the terrible truth of Laura Palmer's life and death.

    Sheryl Lee's performance is absolutely staggering, and it wasn't until I saw the film in a double bill with Mulholland Drive, that I fully got it. Something about seeing the film projected (in the wonderful Glasgow Film Theatre), gave her performance and the whole movie, added impact. The same thing happened when I saw Blue Velvet on the big screen after years of bad VHS and DVD releases. In the tv series, Sheryl Lee never really got the chance to show what she could do, apart from her final scene in the series, which is as horrific and disturbing as anything in FWWM (those of you who have seen it will know what I am talking about). In the film, she gives a powerful, engaging performance of a young woman falling apart. Kudos also goes to Ray Wise, who gives an even more menacing and maniacal performance as Leyland Palmer. The scene at the dining table where he commands her to "wash your hands", while Lee sits there completely paralysed by fear, is incredibly tense and unnerving.

    Ultimately, for me, FWWM is such a great film because it extends the mystery of Twin Peaks, rather than answers the questions we all had. From Bowie's weird appearance (a brilliant moment!), to the monkey at the end of the film that whispers "Judy!", the old Mrs Tremond and her mask wearing grandson, Bob, Mike and the Ring. In this film, Lynch extended and deepened the Twin Peaks universe and mythology, which only allows fans to continue picking it apart and enjoying the film over and over, to see it in different ways each and every time. And for that reason alone, it stands as a truly magnificent piece of work.

  • Comment number 24.

    As a person who went through a fanatic Twin Peaks period, I'd like to suggest some more reasons why people hated FWWM so much. The TV show remains my favorite show ever - but as the show went on, Lynch's name appeared less and less in the credits, and the quality dropped accordingly (tanked accordingly?). I think people who loved the show (but felt let down and abandoned by Lynch) were expecting FWWM to bring justice to Lynch's name and to the franchise as a whole. The merits of the film aside, Lynch did not seem concerned with creating a cohesive Twin Peaks world, which is what we all wanted (various interviews with the actors show that they too were let down). And I use the word "cohesive" loosely. When showing the TV series to friends, I've chosen to pepper the episodes (all of season 1 but only bits of season 2) with scenes from the movie. I would never show the entire thing (movie or show) - hey, maybe it's more cohesive than I thought!

  • Comment number 25.

    I saw this film a long time ago and found it to be a load of self-indulgent tripe. I find that all too often with movies from David Lynch critics are hoodwinked into believing that underneath the messy plotting is something profound when all it really is a lot of cinematic, pointless doodling.

    Peter Greenaway has the same problem. Both Greenaway and Lynch reduce their films to posturing tableux where sex and violence cover up a less than interesting and very cluttered story.

    Firewalk with Me is a failure. It failed to satisfy fans of the TV series and for those who had never seen the TV series it (like myself) it is a 2 hour slog through a plot which becomes murkier and murkier as the film progresses. After seeing it I was put off from investing the time to watch the TV series as couldn't have cared less what happened to Lara Palmer and the rest of the characters.

  • Comment number 26.

    Loved the tv show, especially up until they revealed the killer of Laura Palma. Past that the whole embodiment of the show was devoid of any meaning.

  • Comment number 27.

    Big fan of the series. The film is all over the place. The tone is completly different. While the tv show had its fair share of disturbing stuff it was always broken up by the humor. The film is a bleakfest. I personally thought parts of the film were fantastic and parts of it didn't work. The Bowie scene just leaves me boggled. While without doubt it creeps the hell out of me I just don't think it works. The scenes in Twin Peaks itself was the point when the film starts to go off the rails. The scenes with Chester Desmend are very interesting because we know next to nothing about the murder of Terresa Banks. Whatever happened to Chester Desmend was another mystery that went unsolved because of the film bombing. But the scenes in the pink room are some of the best that Lynch has made. That scene is such a sleazefest but in the best way possible that only David Lynch could pull off. The score is yet again fantastic. Badalamenti should of been given an oscar for his work with Lynch. As you said Lee is brilliant. Its a shame she never got the career she deserved. Ray Wise is great also. The ending is one of the most depressing ever and the scene where Laura Palmer is murdered is really disturbing. I do think there is a great film in there trying to get out. The flak it got was not deserved. I would love to see an extended verison but it will proberly never see the light of day. I still think Inland Empire is his worst. Tarantino said it was Lynch disapearing into his own arse. What do you think of that Mark?

  • Comment number 28.

    Thanks for giving me a good reason to re-watch this!

  • Comment number 29.

    Hmm @fisher_king I would be quite confident that the Kermode Uncut film club would feature movies that Dr. Kermode would like and more importantly, like to/be discussed, otherwise what is the point? From the comments here and last month it is quite clear not everyone agrees either.

    I would suggest going to the vacuous rubbish film club for Transformers 3.

  • Comment number 30.

    Quentin Tarantino called it "Self Indulgent"! Nothing else needs to be said; the film is a masterpiece.

    Request for the next Film Club: "Punch Drunk Love"

  • Comment number 31.

    The flash-back (think back?) scene with bob is probably one of the scariest things i've ever seen on screen. i think films like this do not need explanation or justification; in fact, criticism is irrelevant. oh, and yes; Chris Isaak is a very good actor!

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello, Mr. kermode. As a newbie to this blog, i just felt compelled to write in and send a big kudos to you for waving the flag on the criminally underrated,"Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me". As a admirer of David Lynch for many years, I remember hearing some of the negative comments upon it's release, and some previously from it's screening at Cannes - to which i was astounded. When i finally got around to seeing it I found the film to be absolutely mesmerising from start to finish: the brooding, sinister intro of Angelo Badalamenti's ambient musical overture; The directors interpretation of mind-warped kids outside the school grounds as the character bobby retreats back to the classroom,(a tiny allegory of the burden living in Twin Peaks); to the painful, desperate cries for help that were aptly portrayed by the astonoshing, Sheryl Lee.(and yes Mark, she was totally overlooked by the academy that year - another crime). The film never attracted the movie-going audiences and won-over fans, because of it's seperation stylistically from the T.V aesthetic that we were accustomed; this enabled Lynch to fully apply his surrealist horror that most of his ardent fans were expecting anyway. Above all, the film is the story of one girl despearate for belonging; trying to find solace from an eerie corrupt back-water town. Lynch manages to capture her sadness beautifully, making me a 100% advocate of the film. As for being the best horror film in recent years: How can anyone not feel a sense of dread, when Bob,(played by the late Frank Silva) creeps slowly through Laura's bedroom window - a scene the current crop of horror directors could not utilise within 90 minute running time. It's a simple scene made more horrific through it's calmness and droning sound design - it lingers with you until the credits roll. I hadn't felt fear and dread like that since Max Von Sydow pulled up outside a house somewhere in Washington to assist another young lady living in turmoil.

  • Comment number 33.

    I have just finished watching Fire Walk with Me, so this is my instant response. I first saw it last year and it did little for me, so in preparation for film club i watched the tv series on DVD and it certainly helped put the events and characters of the film in context. My problem is that there isn't enough plot to justify 129 mins and apart from the ending the surrealist touches seem out of place when they don't offer any insights or explantions.

    Sheryl Lee on the other hand is in virtually every scene and pretty much is the film and you're right she is amazing. Ultimately this film would benefit from being alot shorter as the sequels never happened a revised directors cut might be in order.

    On a very obscure side note, a few years back you did a Kermode Uncut blog on "Martyrs" featuring reverse action shots of you getting in and out of a chair, i've always assumed this was a nod towards FWWM?

  • Comment number 34.

    I’m a fan of the TV series, despite the lull in the middle of season 2 and Fire Walk With Me is my favourite Lynch film. While they may be remarkably different from each other, this does not take away from my enjoyment of the film. It’s one of those rare films whose mystery lingers on your mind long after you’ve watched it. And I have to agree that it should be viewed with an open mind, without the preoccupation of trying to find the answers to the TV series. You should just let the film take you on its twisted journey though those dark, mysterious woods.

    I think this logic applies to all of Lynch’s films. For instance I hated Inland Empire when I first saw it because I was trying desperately to find some kind of logic. But then I realised it reminded me of a bad night’s sleep when you have a fever and you're plagued by repetitive, mundane fever dreams. You think the morning will never come but, after 3 nauseating hours, it finally does. When I realised this I appreciated the film a lot more and I now think it’s the closest he’s come to portraying a nightmare/dream-state on film.

    So like FWWM, Lynch’s films shouldn’t be over-analysed, but instead treated as a unique cinematic experience.

  • Comment number 35.

    Fire Walk With Me had a phenomenal impact on me when I watched it a few weeks ago in anticipation of the Film Club blog. I actually had a very weird yet vivid dream the night I watched it, and had to put it on again the following morning because I couldn’t get it out of my head. A film hasn’t made me feel like that for 20 years. I adored the first half hour pre-Laura Palmer – there is so much going on in every single scene – from Lynch’s brilliantly portrayed deaf-as-a-post FBI boss to Lil and the blue rose and the school bus full of screaming kids. The surrealism, the undercurrent of menace, the fascinating characters – nothing is contrived and Lynch directs with such confidence and style that it elevates the movie to something way ahead of the game. I was so absorbed by the opening half an hour that I actually forgot that the film was about the events leading up to the death of Laura Palmer. And then – bang – THAT iconic theme tune introduces us to Laura – it was so powerful it brought a lump to my throat. Lynch seems obsessed with Laura – maybe even Sheryl Lee – the camera doesn’t just love her, it is besotted with her, and I don’t think any of this would have been possible without his genius. There is also a scene near the end where Laura is talking on the telephone lying on her bed whilst trying to put on her stockings. It is the most sexually charged scene I think I have ever seen in a movie, and, whilst it lasted barely a minute, was again Lynch turning on light bulbs just by clicking his fingers, and hitting you between the eyes with an anvil. I found that the surrealism and non-linear plot lines following Palmer’s introduction did dog the film – my heart actually sank at one point as I feared I was losing my initial excitement - but by the time the credits rolled I was back in tandem – but a spent force mentally and emotionally. I realised I had watched an incredible film which instantly became one of my favourites.

    Incredible Mark, and utterly sensational – if any other Film Club entry lives up to this one (which I doubt) I will be amazed – but thank you for using this very concept to introduce the delights of Lynch to a previously unfamiliar novice like myself!

  • Comment number 36.

    For me this film could have gone into the previous 'Surprise' category as well. I was working in Munich and found an English language film cinema showing this one lonely evening. I had no knowledge of the film or director at the time - I just watched it because it was in English. Loved all of it although it is plainly bonkers in some places. Any film that you can't take your eyes off and still makes you feel a bit funny all those years later must be a classic.

  • Comment number 37.

    This post made my day. I agree completely. It was the first movie by David Lynch I saw - it was a some time ago - and I still remember the feeling it left in me. Everytime I watch it it's the same wonderful experience.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'd love to comment but i am as blank as a fart. ( Been polishing that for about a month now)

  • Comment number 39.

    Saw this 3 times at the cinema when it was first released - Terrifying, deeply sad, and how Lynch makes the utterly bizarre somehow understandable is simply genius. I loved the tv show, but the film went to places the show only hinted at.

  • Comment number 40.

    Incredible film. My mum used to let me watch the T.V. show when I was perhaps a bit too young and I remembered it like a day dream or a fever. In my later teens I became completely taken with Lynch's work and collected all his films on VHS. Strangely, I found that Fire Walk With Me was -then- very difficult to track down, even more difficult than his stage production Industrial Symphony No.1 (glad that this isn't the case any longer).
    Lynch is a great recycler and here he again explores the fascinating and sometimes terrifying themes of communication problems/ break down (from Gordon to the Palmers dinner time), visual/audio interpretations of the subconscious (the captivating Red Room and the sublime sound design of the cross roads and Pink Room club scenes to note but a few), something rotten under the surface and personality divides (Laura).
    There is just so much to chew on here not to mention the incredible directorial decisions, play and creativity; the closed circuit camera scene, the fades between Bob and Leland through plastic, the Man From Another Place not only talking backwards but his Native American-esque "hoowoowoowoo" later being used as the sound over the telephone lines, the picture of a door on the wall, barely audible voices ("The black dog runs at night...") the list goes on.
    Just wonderful, painful, distressing yet wonderful. If only more directors would approach creativity in such a joyful, exploratory way as Lynch.

  • Comment number 41.

    I remember going to see this alone in an empty odeon when it came it and when I emerged from the cinema I was more unnerved and thoroughly moved by a film than perhaps I ever have been. It was incongruously sunny and I walked around in a daze for hours. I then bought the soundtrack and listened to it endlessly. An outrageously misunderstood masterpiece and thanks for keeping this alive.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think it's an incredible film and does the series justice, there was a mixture of good and bad (intended and not intended?) ambiguity at the end of Twin Peaks and it wold have been nice to find out what happens to, well, half of the cast - Ben Horne, Audrey Horne, Leo Johnson etc - at the end of the series, but as Mark says, people are wrong to just watch it hoping for an extension of Twin Peaks - it has Lynch fully at the helm (like the greatest episodes of the series directed by him), so it was bound to go deeper, weirder and darker...

    I personally love how the film clarified some issues with the series' ending, such as Cooper's fate, but created new, bizarre mysteries, such as David Bowie's character, and with Chris Isaak's...though it's fair to assume (from clues) that his detective was taken to the black lodge, I just love how it was done, I love the idea of someone just disappearing from the face of the earth, from this reality, gives me the chills...

    More mixtures of conclusions and clouding were done really well in the relationship between Leland and Laura as well, which goes even deeper and darker than before, and I love how with this Lynch made it really unclear and open to imagination when Leland is possessed by Bob or when he is actually influenced by his dark Freudian desires...

    Finally, the ending is simply beautiful, and the wonderful Angelo blew me away as always with his soundtrack

  • Comment number 43.

    Mark, I completely agree with you with regard to Sheryl Lee's performance. It's incredible to believe that she was a newcomer to acting when the series first started, and as her natural talent started to show, Lynch wrote the part of Maddy Ferguson for her. Her performance as Laura is completely captivating. I'm one of those people who tend to look at the film and the series as separate entities and can enjoy both for what they are. Re: David Bowie. His southern drawl was crap, but his character was eerily bizarre. Who knows? In future films, we could have met Judy herself.

  • Comment number 44.

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is David Lynch's best film alongside Blue Velvet. As a teenager myself, Laura Palmer's descent into the sinister underside of small-town suburbia becomes one of the great tales of adolescent disillusionment and despair. Kept forever young in the TV show, Laura is already an iconic character, and I agree with you that Sheryl Lee delivers a fantastic, Von Trieresque performance. Mostly, I was extremely moved by the film, more so than any other of Lynch's work. The scene before the infamous Pink Room sequence, where Laura listens to Julle Cruise in the bar alone, is almost unbearably sad, but NOT ironic, mirroring the sincerity of emotion seen in Laura Dern's famous speech in Blue Velvet. This truly odd, beautiful film is the seminal Lynch,

  • Comment number 45.

    Again I put it to you that this would work a whole lot better if you chose something that was perhaps going to be showing on the telly box. I have this film on VHS but alas, no player.

    I'm not going to spend any money on this as quite frankly I remember this movie as just plain crappolla. I'm a Lynch fan, almost all his films are fantastic, this just wasn't (@no. 4 Dune was awesome). Yes I loved the TV series. If your going to base a film on a TV series or vice versa you better make damn sure they tie in, keeping characters and story lines etc. Joss Whedon knows how to do this, David Lynch doesn't.

    I don't remember thinking that film was a horror movie either?

    Doesn't matter anyway. If I can't rent a film on at least DVD I don't want to watch it. I don't want to have to watch some lousy, streamed, compressed, poor quality movie with awful audio all while sitting 18" away from a computer monitor (and you knock 3D for quality issues?)

    I really feel watching a movie should still hold some kind of pomp and circumstance, sorry for being a snob but....

  • Comment number 46.

    Okay, I obtained this film very cheaply on DVD over ebay, so anyone who wants to find the film should start there. I did a full length review on my blog (http://iwantyoutodrinkthekoolaid.blogspot.co.uk/%29, which you can check out if you really want, but I'll give you a streamlined version below to save time:-

    After watching the whole series on Netflix (more on that later), I decided to give the film prequel a chance, and whilst it clearly sets the groundwork for future Lynch films, its pre-existing universe grounds it a little more as we get to see the events that lead to the death of troubled schoolgirl Laura Palmer. Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland make the most of their too-short roles, David Bowie materialises out of the "Dancing in the Street" video and Harry Dean Stanton says what we’re all thinking: “Goddamn, these people are confusing”.

    One of the strengths of the TV show was that it balanced a murder mystery within the trappings of a soap opera pastiche, with a big cast and several interlinking B-plots to serve the narrative and flesh out the characters and environs of Twin Peaks. And here, at least, it is Fire Walk With Me’s strength too: the returning cast all fit neatly back into their roles like they've never left; Badalamenti’s key score themes are incorporated into the film but with bigger and bolder arrangements in places; and the film retains the distinctive rosy colour grade of the show.

    However, one of the principal bugbears I have with the film is that it reins in the expansiveness of the show; despite being set in a few more locations besides the town itself, its failure to show off as much of the town ironically makes it feel more limited (some perhaps would say tighter) in scope, and after getting used to a wide cast and numerous plot strands, focusing almost exclusively on the lead-up to Laura’s death (especially when fans of the show will already know who killed her and revealing it here will spoil it for non-fans) is a little jarring. “Where are Sheriff Truman and his deputies?” I found myself asking. “And Ben and Audrey Horne? They were some of my favourite characters and they don’t appear once!” Plus, even for someone watching it without the benefit of knowing the show, once you’ve seen one pine forest you’ve pretty much seen them all, no matter how lovingly it’s been photographed.

    In fact, whilst a large chunk of the essential cast do reprise their roles, there are still a couple of notable absences that have obviously been handled with questionable recasting. Even Kyle MacLachlan’s role is little more than an extended cameo - for no discernible reason than they couldn't get MacLachlan to film a bigger role. Chris Isaak isn’t bad, and he does have genuine chemistry with Kiefer Sutherland (playing against type as a speccy FBI nerd with Dennis the Menace hair); he just doesn't get the chance to be particularly good either. As for David Bowie… let’s just say that whatever you think about him as an actor, (and I happen to like him,) his performance, whilst deliberately jarring and weird, isn't even close to being the weirdest thing in this film. The trademark dream sequences are back, but so too are the increasingly strange jaunts in which supposedly unreal characters start popping up in the town itself for all to see and hear; aren't these people supposed to be supernatural beings who remain incognito? Part of me feels it is Lynch waving his Jacobs at us.

    All this would probably not rankle so much if it weren’t for the fact that, whilst keeping faithful to the show’s aesthetic, the cinematography for a lot of the scenes is almost too televisual and not as cinematic as I've come to expect of Lynch. While the characters are fleshed out well and the film is still pretty to look at, it still feels like Lynch was hedging his bets a little on this one and hoping for a revival of the series that sadly would never come.

    For those considering watching the film, I’d have to say you’re probably only really going to get the most out of it if you’re a fan of the show and of Lynch’s 90s output particularly. On the other hand, it is the only David Lynch film I haven’t fallen asleep in with the exception of Dune, and that’s not damning with faint praise; I simply have a bad habit of watching his films when I really should be in bed.

  • Comment number 47.

    I feel this film shouldn't be watched without having previously viewed the series. It's very hard to follow otherwise and dishes out hefty spoilers.

    I can say this because the first time I saw the film, I hadn't seen the series. I did not like it. I had no idea who anyone was. Characters are not given introductions as it presumes you already know who they are and what their relationship is to the lead. I should also point out that this was one of those pesky European VHS versions without any subtitles during the black lodge and nightclub scenes, leaving those scenes baffling.

    BUT I did still find the film affecting. It remains some of the most intense fear I've felt while watching a film and that is an impressive feat considering I had no idea what was going on or who anyone was. That is a rarity.

    Having since watched and loved the series I have returned to the film many times and now can see it for the masterpiece it is. I really love it and it paints one of the most stark and frightening pictures of abuse in cinematic history.

  • Comment number 48.

    Went to Jurby Junk to look threw hundreds of house clearance VHS.Didnt find it, again had to rely on Tnet,but treasure was discovered,Bad Taste and Barfly!a plus for the joy of searching.
    Now to the film.Lets start with the negatives, its to long,and to slow,thats it.
    Now for the pluses ,the directorial flushes are beautiful, colour ,sound is rich throughout.It has major weirdness,but i love weird (Russell,Greenaway etc)The weird can be interptreted as the subconscious made as real as reality or the forces of fate made manifest.To a certain extent the audience is invited to interpret images their way,so they can decide what it means if anything at all.I love the fact that throughout the film i had no idea what was going to happen from one minute to the next,that can kind of insecurity is wonderful.Laura as a character is very interesting. She doesnt know who she is or why she acts the way she does, her complexity to herself is quite deep. I had great empathy for Lee.I agree her performance is stunning. Trying to satisfy the emotional demands Lynch wanted in some scenes was very virtually impossible, but she managed it. To sum up I`d let Churchill review it `A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma` Couldnt have put it better myself.

  • Comment number 49.

    Mark I totally agree, 'Fire Walk With Me' is a modern horror masterpiece with an unforgettable and astonishing performance by Sheryl Lee. The sinister atmosphere of the movie and Lynch's surreal visuals makes for a mesmerizing watch. THAT SCENE where Laura comes home from school to find Bob hiding in her bedroom absolutely terrified me (And I am a horror fanatic and nothing scares me) and following that scene even though we knew that Leland was possessed by Bob we still felt a sense of shock and reveal like it was being revealed all over again thanks to Sheryl Lee's amazing performance.

    Overall I would rate FWWM alongside Mulholland Drive as Lynch's best work. Would love to see a 'Top 5 Lynch films' on the blog Mark as you did with Cronenberg.
    Dean

  • Comment number 50.

    Hi Mark,
    i am a huge fan of David Lynch so i was really pleased that you chose this title as your second selection.I had already watched FWWM eariler this year but had no hesitation in revisiting it so soon after.Because of David Lynch's surrealist nature i think he is far more capable of presenting genuine nightmarish scenario's than many of the hacks who serve up their reheated hokum in modern horror cinema.I don't think David Lynch would of been allowed to get as dark in tone as this movie gets while working within the restraints of television,and after all this is a film about sexual abuse.That's not really a subject many television executive's would want to hear about when approached about a primetime TV show,certainly not in the days when Twin Peaks first hit our screens.
    A damn fine choice sir,look forward to your next one.

  • Comment number 51.

    Love this film. Absolutely love it. Bob's appearance is a brief but indelible mind-fright that plays on its own irrationality. What's scary about a denim-clad man with long hair? In the hands of Lynch, it's terrifying. And the scene in bar is stunning, with its maddeningly muffled voices, like the whole film is wading through a haze of opiates. It's cinematically inventive and acts as a masterclass on how to maintain directorial tone.

  • Comment number 52.

    Meh just sat through 40 minutes on a pee poor stream because my interest had been piqued and I came to a couple of conclusions. First it's still rubbish. Poorly edited, poorly acted, poorly scripted and for the most part of said 40 minutes poorly directed. One or two scenes were classic DL but honestly this was tripe.

    Also worth noting that by the time this was made Laura looked like she was in her mid 30's.

    Secondly the music. The soundtrack was great, I have no qualms with it, I may even try to get a hold of the soundtrack. However it just keeps on and on and on. Scenes where there should be no music has silliness in the back ground which just becomes irksome after a while. Perhaps if it wasn't for this I'd have put up with the rest of the movie even on the lousy stream. And due to the lousy editing the music would abruptly cut into a different score. It's like the director woke up with his "can't be arsed" hat on the week of cutting.

    I should never have even wasted my time watching that dreadful format, could have been the Godfather II and I'd have complained.

  • Comment number 53.

    I approached this film with trepidation because I feared that the strong opinions surrounding this film would colour my own view. However, by the time I was introduced to Laura Palmer 30 minutes in all those views were far from my mind and I was caught up in the world of Twin Peaks.
    While I often struggled to follow and understand the narrative I couldn’t have cared less. Not since Psycho has a film both terrified and drawn me in so effectively, and other directors could learn a lot about the art of suspense from Fire Walk With Me.
    While Sheryl Lee steals the show with her performance I was particularly impressed by the supporting cast, especially Kiefer Sutherland in a role I never thought I’d see him in. In fact my biggest complaint about Fire Walk With Me is that he only appears in it for a short while.
    Fire Walk With Me also contains something that is so rare in cinema, a musical score that is so integral to the film. Without its score Fire Walk With Me would be a shadow of its self, and for me this is what makes this film so impressive and memorable.
    While I still consider Mulholland Drive to be David Lynch’s greatest work, Fire Walk With Me was a real surprise and a true gem of a film, so thank you Mark for introducing me to the world of Twin Peaks, it was much appreciated.

  • Comment number 54.

    well, after seeing Eraserhead & Blue Velvet ( & Dune) I wasn't too impressed. I watched Fire Walk With Me without any knowledge of Twin Peaks the TV series, also I was high on acid- probably the best state of mind to view this movie. Obviously, I became aware of David Lynch after this experience. A masterpiece.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think the film is severely flawed but there is some great stuff in there, chiefly among them is that score and there are some genuinely unsettling moments but the result is less than the sum of its parts. The throw-it-all-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks method of filmmaking always brings back mixed results. In Mulholland Drive that method worked (ironically that also started life as a failed pilot for a TV show that then became a movie) because in the end it felt like a coherent whole, all the elements were weird and bizarre but upon reflection that film had an arc and everything does click into place beautifully.

    Despite the story being fairly straightforward in Fire Walk With Me it doesn't feel coherent and it doesn't feel very confident. Some of the elements have this wonderful Lynchian weirdness that makes the world more textured, others just feel like they have been thrown in there because Lynch thought they'd look quite good.

    Also I don't buy that Sheryl Lee's performance is great, you call it operatic, I just call it really bad overacting. These kinds of performances are typical of Lynch, and his leading ladies are usually great: Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Diane Ladd but Lee isn't cut out for it, her inexperience really shows and the transformation of those characters from being over the top to underlying tragedy does not take place in her characterisation of Laura Palmer, there is no growth or transformation. Some of this is not totally Lee's fault, it's mainly that Laura Palmer isn't that interesting, hence why she was dead in the first 10 minutes of the show and the family was the central focus, who are far more fascinating.

    Fire Walk With Me is an interesting failure, sort of a dry test run for films like Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, that deal with the same ideas, the same visual motifs, the same kind of surrealism. A disappointment.

  • Comment number 56.

    So I watched the tv show when it first aired but barely remember it and a few years later I saw the last part of Fire Walk With Me on cable. Now I have seen the film from the beginning and it is actually wose than I thought it was gonna be from what I have seen previously. I disagree with it being well made, that it was spine tingling or had any emotional weight and even that it has fantastic performances. In fact I would go so far to say as it is pretty much a travesty of a film. It made me angry watching it that money was spent on such nonsense. To be fair though I am not a fan of Lynch's surreal work as I only somewhat appreciate ost Highway (but mostly for Robert Blake) and only enjoy the pilot version on Mulholland Drive but this would be about the worst of them for me.

  • Comment number 57.

    When I first saw this film I had never watched the TV series of Twin Peaks, but even without knowledge of the characters & subsequent events covered in the series, I still thought it to be a satisfying, unsettling experience. I revisited it again later in life after having sat through the entire series, & my immediate impression after having watched it was that it works as a brilliant companion piece, rather than simply being a prequel per se. To be honest, even with all the details of the series still fresh in my mind, I gave no attention to how everything did/didn't tie together. I thought it not important! I like to absorb Lynch's work rather than analysing it, attempting to seeking out answers.

    The greatest horror films have the power to dig in & disturb at the subconscious level by tapping into an unpleasantness which is intangible, something unknowable. It it this kind of horror that Lynch excels at & I think Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me contains some of his most strikingly nightmarish imagery.
    Watching in a darkened room is, for me, an intense experience, bordering on the uncomfortable at times (Laura's dream where she enters a painting on her wall is a highlight). Its exactly that kind of experience that I want from a horror film, but few films outside Lynch's catalogue of works really have the same effect.

    Sure, FWWM is by no means a perfect film, but it is certainly far less flawed than the Twin Peaks series. I often wonder what the series would've been like had Lynch directed all the episodes...

  • Comment number 58.

    So glad this is finally getting the recognition it deserves. When I saw this as a teenager it absolutely scared the bejesus out of me but - crucially - I had no idea why! Lynch is the master of creating that gloaming sense of dread and inertia, but the scenery and objects are so familiar you have no idea why you feel that way. So many of my friends say they like "horror" but hate Lynch. They just like the same kind of clichés over and over, shocks and blood. But Lynch knows how to make *real* horror. Absolutely startling. Still sends shivers to this day. God bless Mr Lynch!

  • Comment number 59.

    When I first saw ‘Fire Walk With Me’ I'm sad to say that I didn’t much care for it. I was a big fan of the TV series and my first viewing was coloured by that: already knowing who Laura’s killer was – the man behind the mask – and by who was absent – no Sherilyn Fenn! (or any of the Hornes for that matter) Lara Flynn Boyle being replaced by Moira Kelly, etc meant that I was distinctly underwhelmed on its original release. Distance from the TV show (and, indeed, a TV set being staved in with a metal pipe is a provocative opening image) shows the movie as being the superior of the two. Knowing who the killer is is less important than what it means to Laura – and her acceptance of that is a big part of the film – and in that respect it is aided by a brilliant, heart-breaking performance from the under-rated Sheryl Lee as the high school prom queen on a path of self-destruction, but terrified of bringing her friends down with her, before, finally, attaining a moment of transcendence.

    Plus there are some truly scary moments: Laura coming home and finding Bob looking for her diary; the one-armed man’s warning to Laura at the junction. But, actually, the most terrifying is Leland’s almost ritualistic preparations before making one of his nightly “visitations” to his daughter: lacing his wife’s milk – one assumes with sedatives, although there are hints that Grace Zabriskie knows what her husband’s doing regardless – before switching on the hallway fan, with its unnerving, incessant whump-whump-whump. Ray Wise is also excellent in his role as Leland – the point where the mask slips and he sees the man he is, and his awareness of the things he’s doing but being unable to stop himself regardless, is equally tragic. And it’s this aspect that elevates this film to one of Lynch’s best – in amongst the stuff that often comes in for such ridicule: the backwards talking dwarf, the red lodge, garmonbozia, et al – at heart this is really about the horrible, banal ugliness of incest.

  • Comment number 60.

    FWWM is a film that creates consternation and discussion in equal measures.
    Read this Blog carefully and note the rhetoric of the commentators. With rare exceptions arguments are made for and against the film and just occasionally for and against in the same comments.
    All films should stimulate such a dialogue and the BEST films construct an unanswerable paradox that create a living discussion way beyond the life of the film.
    The film exists within the cult boy fandom of the TV series Twin Peaks yet also comfortably exist outside of that reality. That in itself is an astonishing achievement - very rare indeed, maybe only Firefly/Serenity comes close to that kind of craft (no pun intended) and that kind of duality.
    Savour the debate and visit/re-visit the film.

  • Comment number 61.

    Fire Walk with Me IS Twin Peaks! It is just a late night cinema version of it, with an axe. The dark and beautiful world of David Lynch really needs cinema to bloom. When I saw this for the first time in early autumn 1992 it was like religious experience. Sheryl Lee's Laura was just plain REAL to an 18 year old finnish guy who himself felt totally lost in the world. Bear in mind I was complete Twin Peaks fan too, but to me the film only raised the whole thing to a next level.

    On a purely emotional, let-yourself-go level, this film is just perfect ghost train with a tear. But like any Lynch film, it has so much more to offer. Once you become familiar you can really dive into the mysteries. The emotional impact remains but little by little the obsession comes. And soon you find yourself reading shooting scripts and comparing scenes from other Lynch films etc. And if you are lucky, you end up with something that feel concrete, an INTERPRETATION. You can create your own part of reality from that illusion. I have only one word for this and it is simply: magic. I don't believe in anything, but I do believe in the magic of David Lynch. Oh and Andrei Tarkovsky, naturally :)

    Actually, I find that this is the best way to see any Lynch film: first you just shut up and enjoy the ride and later you come back and really stab your fork in it.

    Lynch's forte is simple, he isn't intellectual like many think. He is the artist, sculptor, painter, musician, a man that trust his instincts and subconscious unlike any other director ever. He uses his dreams to make films and with some bizarre luck or guidance he manages to pull it off! We all stand beside his sofa as he talks to his shrink. And when he watches his own films, he is at least partly one of us, a member of audience, doing his own interpretations about his own art. That isn't uncommon for artists in general, but for film director that is rare as blue rose.

    And remember, without Fire walk with me there wouldn't be Lost Highway, Mulholland drive or INLAND EMPIRE. I am certain of it.

    To a guy who quoted Tarantino: hell yes! Lynch has always made films 100% out of his own ass, that is what makes him one of the greatest! Because in the end, we all have asses and they are pretty similar too ;)

    Oh, and Fire walk with me has the best soundtrack ever made, musically and soundwise. The best. Ever.

    In the series the boy magician was Lynch. This wasn't a coincidence. He knows about Judy and the monkey, and Grandmother. I walk through red velvet drapes to my study, each day...

  • Comment number 62.

    Here is a quote I found from a very well known publication:

    "Moreover, the cast consists largely of the series' weakest performers (Lee, particularly, as Laura Palmer, proves she can't carry a movie)."

    Really? I found the complete opposite. I felt Sheryl Lee carried that movie during points where I got lost. The most convincing depiction of a teenager lost, conflicted, worthless and quite frankly, abused I can ever remember.

    Twin Peaks FWWM is a fantastic movie. And like all of Lynch's films, will grow days, weeks and months after watching it the first time, and will get even better the second and third time you watch it.

  • Comment number 63.

    Big fan of this film, even though it can be gruelling. It even had me wearing my hair in a quiff in homage to Chet Desmond for a time. Mark's right that it's best viewed as a horror: the influence of The Shining on the domestic scenes seems quite prominent.
    Someone above said that the Teresa Banks investigation is redundant. I disagree: it's important to show the town of Deer Meadow as the inverted, Black Lodge version of Twin Peaks, a place where all the angels have gone away.
    The sound design is amazing: there's never been anything more unnerving than those ominous backwards-masked drones in the air during the examination of Teresa Banks's corpse.
    And if I may say, the final sequence, of the killer's ritual and entrance into the Black Lodge, and his offering of blood for "garmonbozia" is some of the most breathtaking visual and (nearly) non-verbal filmmaking that I've ever seen. *Genuinely* surrealist, for once.
    Incidentally, the much maligned "I'm long gone, like a turkey through the corn" line is taken from a blues song. I forget which one. Might be Sonny Boy Williamson. And I'm not necessarily saying that makes it any better.
    One final, more negative point: I don't quite agree that Sheryl Lee is amazing in the film. I think her performance is less than convincing.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hey Mark,

    First off I am a big David Lynch fan, Blue Velvet being one of my favourite films. Now I've not seen the 2nd season of Twin Peaks (but seen clips and all of the first season), but what I with Twin Peaks there was such striking imagery (the 'How's Annie' scene, what a scene!) that sometimes can be terrifying e.g. Laura Palmer running up to the camera screaming in the black Lodge, but I digress.

    For the film, I personally think there's more bad than good in it. It by no means Lynch's worst film (that's reserved for when he really did go up himself with the 3 HOUR!!! long complete mess that is Inland Empire), but it's not the fantastic nightmare-likes of Eraserhead and Lost Highway, nor 'the what lies beneath picturesque America' that is Blue Velvet, nor either the tortured soul of a person of Mulholland Drive. For me the bar is set really high for Lynch I even rate the dull, but a little bit charming Straight Story better than FWWM. Firstly the good things: Some of the Imagery like the TV series is really good e.g. the Pink Room, the Black Lodge, the actual death of Laura Palmer (although not as frightening as the TV series). The soundtrack is really good and Ray Wise as the creepy, yet troubled (as he sometimes recognises what he's actually doing) is probably the most convincing actor in it.

    The down side of it is: The first bit when looking over the Murder of Teresa Banks, it's badly written and really badly acted. I love surrealism, but the receiving clues from Lil part is just really too far and what was the David Bowie cameo about? (Granted the screenplay got cut to half the film it actually was, but Lynch is intelligent enough to know that if something isn't working then cut it out). Sheryl Lee's performance ranges from perfectly passable to way over the top e.g. the giving the diary to Howard scene as Will Chadwick #55 said 'you call it operatic, I just call it really bad overacting'. The Pink Room scene although visually great, the subtitling because someone couldn't be bothered to actually record voices to it is annoying and it's quite badly written. So it's a 4/10 or 2 stars from me, sorry Mark.

    All in all, it's not terrible and it's not his worst film, it's just not that great and it's far from a masterpiece. The themes from it have been used before and after in Lynch's work that have been much more better, so I can give it some praise for that.

  • Comment number 65.

    They sent me the Blu of TPFWWM last week; this had two advantages. First off, it looks staggeringly beautiful. Secondly, I was able to put the subtitles up in the "Pink Room" sequence which I don't believe were on the cinema release I saw at the (no more) Lumiere Cinema in St Martin's Lane.

    What struck me about FWWM this time around, which I don't think I noticed 20 years ago, was how desperately and deeply moving the film is. This, coupled with the sheer horror of Killer Bob (his appearance in Laura's bedroom is the genuine stuff of nightmare) and the occasional forays into deadpan absurdity such as the early scene with the giggling secretary and the unhelpful local cops, probably makes FWWM my favourite Lynch film (though I'm not a massive Lynch fan, and for what it's worth I really love Dune). And yes, that main title music is wonderful.

    I blathered more about the movie here:
    http://streetrw.blogspot.com/2012/07/twin-peaks-fire-walk-with-me.html

  • Comment number 66.

    I watched Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me before watching your intro and figured I didn’t like it because I hadn’t seen the show. After watching your intro an learning it didn’t really tie in with the show at all, I got a little angry.

    The film’s narrative arc gives no quarter to the under informed. All I wanted was a bit of a helping hand, some hints on what the hell was happening to keep me on track. Lynch gave me no such chance.

    I agree Sheryl Lee is very good and I understand the movie is about her character’s drug problem, but unlike Sharon Stone’s character in "Casino," I don’t understand what caused her addiction. I don’t understand the Ray Wise character's motivations, and I don’t know why the FBI investigation at the beginning is there at all. Who is the man about which she keeps dreaming? I don’t know what’s happening and I don’t know who any of these people are and as the movie went on I began to get angry at the film for not telling me.

    After the bizarre ending, I threw up my hands and screamed, “Okay, Lynch, you win. I get it; I’m not cool enough for your club. I guess you’re too clever for me.”

    I felt like I was never welcome at this party, like nobody wanted to tell me the secret.

    Sorry, Dr. K. I liked "Breathless" a lot more than I expected, but of all the movies I’ve seen recently, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" is the film I would least like to go back and watch again.

  • Comment number 67.

    It's interesting to see the mixed responses here.

    From what I experienced, I'd say it definitely didn't deserve the ire and bile that was heaped onto it on its first screenings - it's a beautifully shot movie that has aged more gracefully than some of its contemporaries. It's also rather enjoyable as a scary movie. And yes, Sheryl Lee is a fantastic actress; how anyone disputed her performance in this movie makes me laugh. Perhaps the flaw is she's supposed to be a teenager? I mean, that is like being asked to buy Tara Reid as an educated archaeologist. There are limits to the suspension of disbelief Dr. Kermode, no matter how fabulous she looks and/or acts (delete where applicable).

    I think the real problem was, simply, time. Had Lynch been given more time to play with, Fire Walk With Me could have had more body to it. Movie spin-offs are notorious in their quality issues - doesn't matter if it is a TV show or a video game spin-off, the fact is both mediums often offer a good ten hours at least to tell the story, pace it and create something. Movies don't offer that freedom, that room to breathe that is often so essential in some stories, moreso when the tale needs that space to keep its concurrent tones and threads separated. It's often why spin offs of games or TV shows and even books, comics and short stories don't always quite work. There's only so much time to get through it all. So some things have to be discarded along the way.

    It's a movie of light and shade - literally and figuratively. It's far from a bad movie, but I can't see it as a classic. It falls into too many traps, too many pitfalls that would otherwise have made it more crystalline. It was also a prequel; and as such, the conclusion was more or less already set in stone. For all the experience, there was no way to dodge the inevitability that came with it, and for a Twin Peaks movie, that alone must have seemed like a cardinal sin to many of its fanatical fans.

    You can understand why it bombed. Sure, it needs to be said now that the reaction back then was unduly and unnecessarily harsh. There are, and were, worse movies of that time. Certainly few that have aged so gracefully. But it's one that perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, wasn't needed. Sure, it opens more questions than it answers. But without the answers, or satisfactory ones, people were always going to feel short-changed. It's like seeing "To Be Continued..." at the end of a screening. You paid money to watch a movie only to realise after over two hours of movie, that it isn't really the whole story?

    In the realm of the DVD, we can rewatch and appreciate it in all its nuances. But in reality, I can see why it was so hated. I don't think this movie was at all suited to a big theatre release. It needs time, ownership and perhaps a drink or two before your brain can start processing it. It's not something suited to a late night screening in a big cineplex. It's more. And in that, as a movie in that situation, is so much less for it. If that makes sense. Which it probably doesn't.

    I'd hesitate to say that I'd expect the much "wanted" Lost movie its fans are screaming for would invoke a similarly vitriolic reaction. They couldn't even get to grips with it as a TV series; in the confines of a two hour experience? That people have to pay £15 to go see once? Unless it delivers solid, clear answers and holds up, people will not react kindly and feel they are being extorted.

    Lost simply doesn't make sense as a movie. And sadly, Twin Peaks doesn't either. As lovely as it is. There's just something about it that isn't quite right.

  • Comment number 68.

    I had the good fortune to see this incredible and incredibly skin-crawling film sometime well over a year ago, on The Horror Channel, where I had also belatedly ingratiated myself with the TV show that preceded it. (I say "belatedly," as the whole Twin Peaks phenomenon occured shortly before I was born.)
    As I saw it, TP:FWWM was not only a (for the most part) satisfying quenching of the thirst left over by the show's sudden axing and infuriating cliffhanger, but also a great film in its own right. The uncomfortable-to-watch and well handled incestuous subtext; Sheryl Lee's magnificent performance as she showed that Laura Palmer was a far, far more fascinating character to behold than the TV show ever allowed us to see; the mind-bending time travelling subplot (which actually makes sense, especially if you wrapped your brain around "Donnie Darko"s sinister wormholing shenanigans (and of course, like most critics said, Richard Kelly owed a lot to David Lynch for that masterpiece)); that amazing soundtrack; the sheer bonkersishness of it all (Lil the dancer? I mean...WHAT?!), but expertly coupled with the overall feeling of dread, fear, paranoia, madness (Lynch's "Mastermind" subject, surely?) and mystery.
    Yes, it most certainly is ridden with flaws, and its ambiguous attitude towards whether it's a TP prequel or sequel (it's a backandforthquel, I say!) is only one of its frustrations. But for me, out of all the Lynch films I've seen so far (including "The Straight Story" (which I love) and "Wild At Heart" (which I utterly detest, and is - for me personally - the worst movie I have ever seen)), it's one of my absolute favourites of both the genre of horror, and of just plain cinema itself.
    =))

  • Comment number 69.

    I just finished watching this film and felt I had to comment. It's simply one of the best pieces of atmospheric cinema I've seen outside of Tarkovsky. For those of you complaining about the lack of plot, I hate to sound patronising but you're simply missing the point. The film works because of the atmosphere of sheer menace it creates through its sound and visuals. The soundtrack in particular rivals Erazerhead's for its complexity in terms of how it complements the drama.

  • Comment number 70.

    imperfect it may be, but Twin Peaks Fire walk with me is a film with soul, and David Lynch makes his films with an artistic openness that will always provoke strong reactions, both positive and negative. Yes there are scenes that are cringworthy but also there are moments of really powerful emotion and atmosphere which stay with us beyond the length of the movie. Surely in a sea of pedestrian and easily forgetable films this says something.

  • Comment number 71.

    It's an incredible film. I still think up there with his best. The scene in the film at one eyed jacks is terrifying, remember seeing it in my mid teens and that scene stayed with me ever since, the power of the
    Music the creepiness of the male characters, the commincation between the actresses almost could be a small influence on Gasper Noe in my opinion.

  • Comment number 72.

    I first watched this film after finishing the series, which I feel in hindsight was why I wrote it off. Somewhere in the 2nd series, Twin Peaks did lose its element, possibly because of too many additional characters/subplots, or the fact that Lynch seemed to become increasingly distant from the show's direction.

    However I do remember the last episode being great. Questions 'answered' to a certain extent but much open to interpretation and lots of things that will forever haunt me as unfathomable mystery...and that's fine, even desirable. But then I watched Fire Walk With Me and there's a load of new characters/subplots, and after watching the series I think this is simply too much to deal with.

    Now I've watched the film many years later on its own, I think it's actually better than the series. In one respect FWWM takes the themes of Blue Velvet, such as the actual weirdness of things taken to be ordinary, blurred moral distinctions, the tendency of humans to have 'bad' impulses, fetishism, voyeurism.

    But FWWM goes further in depicting someone whose identity has become completely and ultimately, irrevocably torn apart by exposure to these things, which are so contrary to the identity of Laura as the model daughter and pupil. In my mind, all the weirdness/surreality in the film is a manifestation of Laura's torment. In dreams we are uncontrollably haunted by our misgivings in this way. In the last scene, the separation of Laura and the contentment it seems to give her, suggests that her opposing sides can now find peace.

  • Comment number 73.

    * (peace) in death.

  • Comment number 74.

    "Just plain mess..."
    I'll agree with you that this had a great soundtrack. It did. But the rest... Just a mess. I was not a fan of the TV show. I was aware of it and its basic story-line, but never watched it, so I came into this to view it purely as a film unto itself. After viewing this I watched some of the behind the scenes stuff. Apparently there were demonic possessions and ghosts and figments that were only treated as symbols instead of literal. I got the symbolism for the most part, but it was fairly heavy handed, anyway. The film was also predictable. I knew who the killer was upon this person's first appearance onscreen. That made the film mid-level excruciating. The acting didn't help.. I say acting, but I hardly ever blame the actors. They're usually just doing as the director wants, so Lynch has to be held responsible.
    Lynch also complained a little in the behind the scenes material about the problems with the film. Many of them were that actors and actresses did not want to be in the film. Some participated reluctantly, like McLaughlin, some came in for a day (like Bowie) and some just skipped the whole thing altogether (Lara Flynn-Boyle among others). And the actors they did use made up a Star Wars Mos Eisley Cantina-like collection of human beings with speaking parts. Sheryl Lee was probably best 'overlooked'. She's wooden through the entire movie right up until the pretentious ending.
    I figured, since this was by Lynch that it would be another attack on Americana/Suburbia using a cast of, well... Well, I've heard Simon and yourself discuss that we Americans call them 'character' actors, while you Brits just call them actors... 'Character actors' meaning that they're less than attractive. I usually would not use that term, but if it's ever going to apply to a cast, then this would be the cast it applies to. And I take back what I said about blaming the director. There are some terrible actors here. But I digress. I was right about that this would be a 'look' at what's considered 'normal' as if anyone who isn't vying for a liberal arts degree has weirdly deep dark secrets, most of them being sexual in nature. I'll admit I don't care for this type of story, where a... a politically motivated filter is placed in front of the lens and I as a viewer am supposed to view it as 'the truth' or see it as some profound statement, which it's not. Worst of all, though, is that the film was tedious. It appears that it's desperate to be 'quirky' at times.
    I didn't think that this was the worst film I've ever seen, but it wasn't a masterpiece, either. It also was not a horror film. Horror films have to be scary or at least have a jump moment or two. the best that this offered was just being weird.
    So... I liked the soundtrack, but as far as the film goes; you're wrong again, Dr. K.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ CRM114

    Maybe the point was just to create an atmosphere of menace but it still doesn't work as we have to care what happens to the characters and to have an air of unpredictability which FWWM does not.

    As a suggestion for the next film club film I suggest Orson Welle's massively underrated version of the Trial starring Anthony Perkins- IMO it is his best film bar none. But you need to see the version with the pin screen opening. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057427/

  • Comment number 76.

    It's probably been noted elsewhere here, but I believe Ray Wise is the real star of this movie. Sheryl Lee puts in a phenomenal performance, that much is undeniable, but I feel that it is the scenes she shares with Wise as her father Leland Palmer which elevate her to such lofty heights. The scene where the Palmer family are sat around the breakfast table following Laura's rape by Leland/BOB is nothing short of nauseatingly brilliant to watch. Lee's repulsed, traumatised face juxtaposes perfectly with Leland's innocent rhetorical "Laura, I would like to talk to you. Is something wrong?"

    Thinking about it, the greatest scenes in this movie are the few set in the Palmer's dining area. The other one which springs to mind is the scene where Leland is questioning Laura about her "lovers." Wise's visceral delivery of "How do you know what she doesn't like?" is still the most disturbing line in the film for me.

    If I had to sum up FWWM, I suppose you could say that it is like arriving in a foreign country and asking a taxi to take to your hotel: we know our final destination (the death of Laura), but the sights and emotions we will feel in the journey to this destination will be unknown and exotic, and, as Cooper says in the series, "both wonderful and strange."

  • Comment number 77.

    I wholeheartdly agree. It is a masterpiece. I spent my mid to late teens watching and loving the TV show, because I'd never seen anything like it before and I liked its universe and its characters. It streched from pure cornball american soap to deep dark otherworldly horror. I was never allowed to watch the film on it's first release, it being an 18 certificate. I've seen it many times since being "of age". I see it as a prequel to the tv show an exploration into the back story of Laura Palmer. The TV show ran out of steam with people once Laura Palmer's killer was revealled (have to say it didn't run out of steam for me, I wanted a third series. Fire Walk With Me has Lynch's hypnotic trance like feel and treats it's characters with love and affection and compassion. Laura Palmer is a troubled girl struggling with who she is, who she wants to be, and who she should be. And she never reconciles those things because of this she falls deeper into a dark twisted universe. I found it a compelling and affectionate tale of darkness, surrealness, lightness. Everything. I was never so sure about its first half hour, and how it fits in with the Laura Palmer arc (I guess the demands of seeing familiar characters from the TV show might be at work). But it's still very weird and entertaining.

  • Comment number 78.

    Bravo, Dr. K. I don’t think anyone could have put it better. Fire Walk With Me is a criminally misunderstood and underappreciated film which not only caps off the TV series’ universe but also opens it up into new and wonderful territories which was only hinted at by the film’s predecessor.

    After watching the whole series from start to finish and itching to watch the film, knowing full well the poor reviews it had received, the film didn’t let down. Knowing this to be exactly the story that Lynch wanted to tell, the atrocities that plagued Laura Palmer are brought kicking and screaming (and talking backwards) to the forefront of the film; pushing out the way the mask of black humour, cherry pie and coffee.

    And the final scene coupled with Badalamenti’s shows just how lonely Laura must have been the whole time we were laughing...

  • Comment number 79.

    My god that was a slog getting through that. Despite a fantastic performance by Shannon Tweed )I agree that she should have got award nods for this) TPFWM had nothing going for it. One of the best horrors going - Really Dr K, really?. Was as fan of the first series of Twin Peaks, and despite other comments here that stated lynch moved away from the show for the awful second season it was the abc network that shut him out. Chris Isaac (Hi Chris Isaac ...ooh sorry wrong Isaac) he didn't do a bad bad thing in this film, he did a good job and I wished theres more of him and Kiefer Sutherland.

  • Comment number 80.

    Dr. Kermode, thank you for the excellent introduction to "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." I plan on watching it in the next few days.

    Since we're in the realm of unappreciated films from the '90s, a suggestion for your next film club pick:

    "Gattaca"

  • Comment number 81.

    I saw Fire Walk With Me opening weekend with a group of friends who were Twin Peaks fanatics. I was a Twin Peaks fan, but was more a fan of David Lynch's other work (I once showed them Eraserhead and it left them totally bewildered). Oddly, I didn't care much for Fire Walk With Me the first time I saw it. I found it to be an incoherent mess with moments of brilliance. However, I saw it twice more in the theater (it played as a midnight movie at a local art house for over a year) then watched it multiple times on video. Over the years it has grown on me. I still think it is one of Lynch's weaker efforts, which is a relative statement since I think even Dune is amazing. On the other hand, it is my wife's favorite Lynch film, and she saw it years before having ever seen the show or knowing anything about it. I really like your assessment of the movie. It just makes me want to watch it when I get home tonight!

  • Comment number 82.

    I'll never forget the first time I watched Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. When I was a teenager my interest in David Lynch began as my brother and I started renting out his films and loving each one. I remember first watching Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, I even got something out of Dune on first viewing.

    In a way we watched Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me by accident. We had heard of Twin Peaks but didn't realise it was a TV series and rented the movie, thinking that that was all there was too it. Watching that cold left us confused and a little disappointed. Later we found the TV series and learned to love it and as we found more in the TV show, as well as Lynch's other films, we appreciated more about Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Even though it took some time for me to process the movie, my first viewing of it still remains to be the time I was most terrified while watching a film. Despite everything else, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me for me has been the scariest movie I have ever seen.

  • Comment number 83.

    I need no convincing to love FWWM. Fell in love with Twin Peaks when it was on BBC2 when I was a teen, became a lifelong fan of Lynch, even his bad films are good. Going to rewatch it, and perhaps the first series of TP again on the back of this Mark.

    I will post my thoughts once I've tracked it down.

  • Comment number 84.

    Having watched it for the first time last night I can only say that I think I liked it but will have to watch it again to be sure! I am glad that you recommended it and look forward to hearing what the next film will be.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have never watched the tv series and after this 2 hour long slog I doubt I ever will now. Without having watched the tv series, I felt the plot was all over the place due to the fact we had no prior knowledge of any of the main characters. Personally, I feel this is not a particularly accessible film for any members of the film club that haven't watched the series - I had to read up on the characters and plot of FWWM on its wikipedia page in order to gain any understanding of what I had just seen....

    Finally, to echo an earlier comment, think carefully about the next choice Dr K...

  • Comment number 86.

    The film was very well made, but the TV series already told us everything about Laura’s death.

  • Comment number 87.

    Thematically this film can be seen as a continuation of Lynch's dissection of middle class Suburban mid-western America in 'Blue Velvet' and was further pursued in 'Lost Highway'. The film demonstrates the Baudrillard-ian superficial surface of Suburbia on which the american dream is so reliant. Lynch merely hints that underlying this surface of materialism and christian values there is a depraved sickness always attempting to escape. Laura Palmer's drug use and sexual rebellion are symptoms of the vacuous nature of small town society and the need to escape by non-conforming. She is ultimately punished for her rebellion but it is always an inevitable fate for her character.

    I think much of the negative response to this film comes about due to its peculiar but ultimately refreshing narrative mosaic which is intertwined with the bizarre visuals of the film. There is much that is difficult to interpret in this film as the various settings represent very different environments which may or may not share a common universe. Sections with David Bowie's Jeffries and The Man From Another Place take on their own avant-garde style which is equally beautiful and baffling. Lynch is not a good story teller in the traditional sense but he is however a much better and more interesting film maker due to this lack of affinity with classical narrative structure.

  • Comment number 88.

    I found the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was overlooked due to the controversy surrounding it, as if it were in some way too gratuitous to be taken seriously. I think watching it back, given the extremes of violence in cinema today, the persistently unnerving sounds and images in the film are extenuated making it one of the most effectively atmospheric films i have ever seen.

  • Comment number 89.

    I also watched Robocop for the first time thinking what I'm sure many other have before they saw it; violent 80's action flick. I watched it again quite recently and was reminded just how brilliant a film it really is, both visually and how it weaves the many subtexts into its gripping and, most importantly, fun story line.

  • Comment number 90.

    I still have my Laserdisc copy of this much under-rated classic! It's not quite my favourite Lynch flick, that would still be Mulholland Drive, however I believe it's one of those rare films that improves with each viewing and offers layer upon layer of small moments, objects, situations and dialogue that are only fully realised, digested and understood on subsequent viewings.

    The reasons other people cite as problems are the very reasons I adore it; the slightly wonky pacing, the quirky performances, scenes and characters that don't really lead anywhere, the darker than dark atmosphere etc. The cinematic format also allowed Lynch to explore much more brutal imagery and atmosphere than he could get away with in the TV series; in particular, the terrible, unrelenting downward spiral of Laura Palmer often feels more than a little sadistic. As viewers we are made to feel particularly uncomfortable (as we should) during the immediate events that lead to her demise, but I feel this provokes a level of empathy in the viewer. On every viewing I can't help wishing I could step into the movie and protect Laura from all that pain and misery, but then of course there would have been no Twin Peaks series.

    It was indeed a crime that Sheryl Lee was overlooked for Best Actress that year, she gives a positively fearless performance! I'm not sure I can even think of another actress who has displayed such range of emotions over the course of a film, further proof that nominations and awards are pretty meaningless.

    I must admit I haven't yet got round to viewing Lynch's Inland Empire though, the 3 hour running time always puts me off.

  • Comment number 91.

    A quick side note to the comment I left here last night (comment 68):

    Shortly after I wrote what I wrote - and this is in particular to the bit where I mentioned the film's "mind-bending time travelling subplot" - I realised I had gotten that bit wrong.
    *SORT-OF SPOILERS AHEAD*
    Although there is some mild time travel tinkerings for sure - mainly involving those infamous rings - I forgot that it's more to do with parallel universes and supernatural evil, alongside a smidgen of time travellingness, all also involving those rings. (Essentially, if you've ever watched the TV show "Fringe," TP:FWWM makes much more sense to you.)

    That is all. I'm sure this isn't really important to anything, but I just wanted to correct myself a bit for my own peace of mind as a quasi-film buff...

    =))

  • Comment number 92.

    I became a huge fan of Lynch on the back of this film. I was lucky enough to see it in the cinema following being a nut about the TV series and like Mr Kermode, I 'got it'. It had me in tears at the end following a rollercoaster two hours where I'd experienced every emotion possible.

    Fire Walk With Me isn't for everyone. I understand this. Its one of many reasons why its so special. As not everyone gets it, so the experience of repeated viewing is very personal.

    So pleased that many people feel the same as I felt I was one of very few!

  • Comment number 93.

    I have actually just recently watched this for the third time, in all, however importantly the first time since I watched the show in its entirety. Oddly my experience wasn't as far removed as I perhaps anticipated, I have decided that this is a good thing.

    The opening 30 minutes are very much in line with the show. Very funny and surreal and it feels like an episode within the film and concerns itself with the murder of Teresa Banks, one year before the events leading to the demise of Laura Palmer. Some good guest turns are on display, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris Isaacs are an enjoyable duo, while Kyle MacLachlan's brief reprisal of Dale Cooper is a welcome one.

    It is 30 minutes into Fire Walk With Me when the familiar Angelo Badalamenti theme hits and Laura Palmer makes her first appearance. What follows is a dark and often surreal insight into Palmer's final days. Most of the characters from the show feature at some point, although understandably some are reduced to mere cameos. If the star of the TV show was MacLachlan then this is Sheryl Lee's film. She is strong for the most part although she does have a tendancy to overact at times, however in the context of Lynch's film it feels intentional so it's never a real problem. She lends Palmer all of the vunerability, the flaws and the goodness that encompass this complex character. From her convoluted relationship with the men in her life to her friendship with Donna there is plenty of depth to Palmer. One worry is that the film wouldn't do this almost mythical character justice, in my opinion it does.

    Fire Walk With Me is anything but formulaic, in fact it is a challenging film that rewards effort, much like many of Lynch's films. Importantly, and I can verify this, it doesn't require prior knowledge of the TV show (perhaps it even helps) to become immersed in this dark, twisted world that Lynch has created yet to those who have seen the show there are interesting in-jokes and references that will add to the experience. It really is quite a beautiful piece of work, in fact in a sense it is a perfect companion piece to Mulholland Drive. It is umistakably Lynchian and the cast immerse themselves in his world making even the oddest of occurrences seem almost commonplace. This was yet another unique offering from a visionary film-maker.

  • Comment number 94.

    I can't believe some lazy people's attitudes on here about watching this film. If I recall it's only like £4-£5 on DVD and if you so called Lynch fans state you're "big Lynch / Twin Peak lovers" then surely you should own this film for the fact it has all the makings of a complete classic celluloid masterpiece. Like it or not, you should own this film for that fact it will sit next to your other Video's and DVDs haunting your mind for the rest of your goddamn life.

    Also I do feel sorry for anyone who has seen Fire Walk With Me and not Twin Peaks and refuses to bother watching the series. Also, it's a shame you kind of know "whodunit".

    Finally - the OST. It's just one of the finest, richest, weird and wonderful scores ever and the song The Pink Room is a baby making banger.

  • Comment number 95.

    This is a film to let wash over you. Lynch is a master at projecting characters' emotions onto the viewer. The "Questions in a World of Blue"/nightclub scene moves from heartbreaking to mesmerizing to horrifying without any audible dialog. It's the best scene Lynch has ever done.

    Lynch's work is often cited as "dreamlike" but I think this connection has more to do with the fact that the emotions a Lynch film elicits from the viewer are the very same as the viewer's reactions to their own dreams. Have you ever had a dream in which you've felt that uneasy dread creep into the pit of your stomach? This is same feeling I get from the "thmp thmp" of the ceiling fan before Bob appears. Same goes for the melancholic feeling I get from watching Laura watch the Roadhouse singer.

  • Comment number 96.

    I think Mark may be right in that the title is one of the biggest problems this film has faced.

    The series offered a journey through a town so dense with odd characters and interesting stories it was impossible not revisit it. The death of Laura Palmer was merely a window through which we viewed this world and the length offered by the format allowed more time to be spent exploring the more humorous and light-hearted side of Twin Peaks.

    Fire Walk With Me offers none of this and instead plunges us into one of Lynches most intense films as we hurtle through the final days of Laura Palmer. Sheryl Lee does a brilliant job of portraying the double life that Laura leads and for me it is her performance that holds the film together and makes up for any unsatisfactory loose ends the film leaves.

  • Comment number 97.

    I love this film to bits. There may be elements that arent entirely 'realistic' but they are honest and believable. I cant think of any other films that represent the dream state and the threshold between that and the real world as well as 'Fire walk with me' does. The scenes with the picture of the empty room are terrifying. I love how the horror aspect of the whole film turns from nightmarish to completely human where Leland becomes more of a visible threat. I love the in-depth treatment of Laura Palmer as a character and the world she lives in. Its all different to the way it was presented in the series but i love it regardless. Yes there are discrepancies but those who focus on things like that are missing the real guts of the world. Remember, Skip James wasnt as technically gifted as Eddie van Halen.

  • Comment number 98.

    never watched the original series, so I came into this film without bias and have to say I really enjoyed it and found it entertainingly unnerving. After watching this I am now going to go and watch the tv series and see how it holds up against the film.

  • Comment number 99.

    I'm afraid I can't watch this film for some time. I have yet to finish the series, only made it through the pilot episode.

    With most directors, I just say "screw it" and watch the film, but with Lynch, I always know to go in blind, because Lynch never disappoints. Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, even Inland Empire were all masterpieces where I never knew what to expect. If I watch this film too soon, it'll ruin the fun of being a Lynch fan.

  • Comment number 100.

    Having watched this twice in a short period, it's clear Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a great piece of filmmaking from a technical standpoint and a much better acted piece than I first gave it credit. I have the French BD which uses a quote from the Cahiers du cinéma which (I think) translates as ' An unstoppable trip in a reinvented form of American nightmare".

    If this translation is 90% correct, Lynch has certainly created 'a reinvented form of American nightmare' as I can't think of an American film pre-1992 which delivers such a twisted tale of twisted suburban reality and, in the same way as Lynch's own Blue Velvet, a look beyond the white picket fence and into the dark underbelly of American suburbia. I was more impressed with Sheryl Lee on my most recent viewing than ever before, and Ray Wise stealing the show with a performance of incredible intensity – just look at the way he transforms during the scene at the dinner table and almost breaks down ('I thought you always knew it was me') near the end.

    As a film of two distinct halves, I wish Lynch had been able to make two films, with one (more 'mainstream') following the Chris Isaac and Kiefer Sutherland characters and another (the more 'Lynchian' of the two) focusing entirely on Laura Palmer, Dale Cooper, events in The Black Lodge and developing the Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) character and scenario with Cooper and Gordon Cole.

    Even so, I feel the blend of real and surreal works to the film's advantage, distancing it from the superb TV show (something I now want to revisit) and making a standalone film as a nightmarish horror movie by one of America's great auteur.

 

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