In April of 1990, a new television show premiered from film auteur David Lynch. The show was Twin Peaks, and in the blink of an eye, it was a hit. By the time Season one ended, Twin Peaks was one of the highest rated shows on TV. But then, the network made a decision that would change everything. Season two tanked, ending with the show’s cancellation and a cliffhanger ending that’s never been resolved. A year later, Lynch revived Twin Peaks with Fire Walk With Me, a prequel movie that would help add to the mystique of this show. But Fire Walk With Me, as many of Lynch’s movies, was not exactly what fans expected.
Before we go on, let’s catch up those not familiar with the television show. The basics are this: Laura Palmer (Cheryl Lee), the homecoming queen of the local high school is found murdered. FBI agents arrive to investigate the case. Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) begins to meet the colorful, bizarre, and broken characters of the titular town.
By the end of Season one, finding the murderer of Laura Palmer was almost irrelevant. Twin Peaks wasn’t a cop procedural show after all. Lynch was subverting many of the popular primetime soaps that were popular at the time. Twin Peaks was a horror-comedy-drama soap opera. People loved it.
However, ABC wanted Laura Palmer’s murder solved. The network forced Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost to resolve the issue. As if pulling the thread on a sweater, solving that mystery would prove the beginning of the end of the show. By the end of Season Two, Twin Peaks was imploding in spectacular fashion, and ABC cancelled it.
Twenty-five years later and Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me
is as interesting as ever.
Lynch, however, loved the world he’d made. A year later, the director went to work on Fire Walk With Me, a prequel to the show. However, co-creator Frost and Lynch did not see eye-to-eye. So, Lynch went ahead on his own.
As information about the production trickled out, fans hoped for answers, especially to the cliffhanger ending to the second season. Instead, Lynch presented Fire Walk With Me, a film that’s dark, moody, weird (AF), and endlessly interesting.
The premise of Fire Walk With Me follows the last seven days of Laura Palmer. Fans of the show will note that some sequences are already known to viewers. OF course, the ending, or better said, Laura Palmer’s end, was already known too. But that’s part of the weight of terror that presses down on this movie.
Those unfamiliar with Twin Peaks might find Fire Walk With Me partially unwatchable. The film stands on its own. However, some sequences will make almost no sense or even less sense than they’re intended to. Never forget, Fire Walk With Me is a Lynch movie through and through, maybe even one of his best, but wth that comes all the yummy weirdness that gives the director his signature.
Who killed Laura Palmer?
Fire Walk With Me, in part, is like the anti-Twin Peaks. Where the show balanced out a lot of tones, like a dark and shifting sense of humor, the film drops a lot of that. Or at least, the theatrical cut does, but I’m not going to get into the 90 minutes of deleted footage that makes the movie even better.
So, what’s interesting about Fire Walk With Me, now, 25 years after its release? Well, like most of Lynch’s work, there’s a lot of subtexts, both subtle and blunt. Fire Walk With Me starts off with a TV getting smashed by a sledgehammer. It’s as if Lynch himself needed to have this scene to vent his frustrations with how the show ended.
On the TV show, everyone loved the late Laura Palmer. In Fire Walk With Me, we see life through her eyes. We’re learning exactly why everyone loved her. We’re getting glimpses into her fractured life that includes drug use, infidelity, and abuse. Palmer’s life devolves and ends possibly from mystical forces.
Twenty-five years later and Fire Walk With Me is as interesting as ever. Initial critical response was lackluster, and the movie bombed at the box office. But reevaluation of Lynch and his films inevitably leads to a re-watch of Fire Walk With Me. And what more and more people are finding is that Fire Walk With Me, even with its flaws and behind-the-scenes turmoil, is worthy of admiration and a revisit.
As promised by one character to another way back in the original show’s finale, Twin Peaks is returning to TV, 25 years later on Showtime. It premieres May 21, and with Lynch and Frost in complete creative control, we may finally get the fully-realized weird mystery ride they always wanted in the first place.