David Lynch unveiled nearly 90 minutes of deleted and extended scenes from his 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me at a Los Angeles theater last night. It was intense and weird.
CBS Home Entertainment
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, David Lynch's follow-up prequel to cult classic television series Twin Peaks, has always been an odd beast. It recounts the final seven days of the life of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), whose inexplicable and brutal murder is the impetus for the short-lived drama that riveted viewers when it aired between 1990 and 1991. It is also about the similarly brutal murder of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley), a woman killed a year before Laura in a similarly ritualistic manner whose death puts FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) on alert, following the disappearance of one of his colleagues investigating her murder.
One would expect that the film is a strict prequel, but it is not: Fire Walk With Me plays with time in a unique and nonlinear fashion, making it both prequel and sequel in an odd, contradictory sense. Like Twin Peaks, it is both dreamy and nightmarish, making the conflation of time make sense slightly more. There are visions and sigils, haunted rings and groves of trees, whirring ceiling fans and rustling curtains. The film itself is cryptic and strange, embracing a full-tilt Lynchian mode that the director successfully curtailed in the ethereal Mulholland Drive. Fire Walk With Me is about dreams, desire, and death. It is about answers and more questions. And it is also an unflinching look at the horrors of incest.
The completed film, released in 1992, was a box office bomb, receiving widespread loathing from the critics; it was booed at Cannes when it premiered at the film festival. Fire Walk With Me is an odd curio: It's a film that attracts and repulses at the same time, its emphasis on evoking the oddness of Twin Peaks but with a sharper, more graphic edge that isn't sanded down at all, thanks to the absence of almost the entire cast. Kyle MacLachlan, who played the intrepid Cooper in the show, barely appeared in the film. The quirky denizens of the Washington border town — whose own thwarted passions and crimes provide a sharp narrative spine to the show — are largely shoved into the background, as the film focuses more on Laura's home life and those involved in her murder. The final week of Laura's life — rendered impressively by Lee, whose riveting performance is criminally overlooked here — is a mix of pleasure and pain, a sad end to a tortured life as she comes face to face with the man who had abused her and raped her for so many years: her father, Leland Palmer (Ray Wise), in the guise of the malevolent BOB.
David Lynch offers his opening remarks at the world premiere of Twin Peaks: Missing Pieces at the Vista Theater on July 16 in Los Angeles.