Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me ★★★★★

Aka the greatest horror film ever made

It's beyond heartbreaking how this was treated on release. I think primarily this just an example of Lynch being way ahead of the curve: this is a new kind of film—a synthesis of Blue Velvet's behind-closed-doors-suburbia dream story with a totally uninhibited subjective crux: the life and death of Laura Palmer, a girl whose suffering would be told and relived just the way it happened. For all Lynch's reverential abiding with the 50s' infused ideals of a repressed America, the intent in FWWM is to completely slice through the facade—we will live through Laura's misery at every turn: through every scream, every tear. I've alluded to the legacy of the show itself being somewhat of a curse too, but then again nothing here was particularly 'new'—I don't want to discredit the greatness of what was achieved there because in many ways it tackled the same brutal truths, but in a way that was much safer (and ironically befitting the world of Twin Peaks we see in it). It had just never been shown so graphically dark, so uncompromising, so completely emotionally uninhibited—absent from the cosy comforts of the soap opera format and all the things that allowed escape from the creeping darkness: but chiefly the absence of Laura, whose suffering can be put to back of mind in the stasis of her death. The show is maybe best viewed as a study of absence, or a kind of incomplete-absence where there is a great climactic propulsion towards the resolution of self-recognition of "reality" —if we view FWWM as the real, the pure experience and the show of the dream, imbued with a veil of delusion. (Although using the word "dream" is tricky in this context because FWWM is so subjective that it too is very much Laura's dream, but my point is that it's the truth that is masked later on in the show—in whatever form that may be: complicity on the part of Sarah Palmer, the denial and horror on the part of Leland's actions committed out of free will, not Bob).

This is what makes FWWM so essential as companion piece to the parallel world of the show. The two are totally symbiotic, two sides of the same coin. See how, for instance, the dynamic of the show is reversed here with Leland/Bob: in the show it's Leland's transformation into Bob that's the moment of revelatory self-realisation, in FWWM it's Bob turning into Leland. But what could be more harrowing? That the monster isn't really a monster at all—the man who's caused such untold misery in Laura's life isn't a bogeyman but her own dad. The terror we experience in the show at the appearance of Bob is fundamentally rooted in an ignorance. FWWM is a scary film but for different reasons. Here we are scared because we, along with Laura, finally understand. And how does one deal with such knowledge? In most cases, and evident in Laura's life, pure self-destruction. But Lynch opens up a world of grace that too existed unseen—Laura couldn't see the light of salvation but it did exist.

One of the great gifts this film provides us is the foregoing of time and its standard limits on narrative linear chronology. Lynch is working in such a way that things are happening past, present and future of equal significance and pertinence. The unification of Laura and Cooper together at the film's close—two characters profoundly interlinked yet also tragically disparate and previously unknowable to one another—sees them finally placed together at different stages of their own lives, each with their own uniquely experiential knowledge, linked together by some cosmic force of grace in an immaterial place beyond time and space, free from her own deep suffering.


I think the Pink Room sequence comes close to eclipsing Club Silencio from Mulholland Drive now too as my all time favourite extended sequence from a Lynch film. One of my favourite single moments is when Ronette comes into frame there and the soundtrack subtly changes from The Pink Room to the Blue Frank variation, and her name appears as subtitle just to introduce her (with ellipses). I don't know why but I just find it a hilarious, brilliant, inexplicable moment of pure Lynch irreverence.


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