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Film Club - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Tuesday 10 July 2012, 14:37

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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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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    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...

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    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.

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    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.

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    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)

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    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.


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