By Clint Morris
It’s austere, dim, disquieting, and surreal … hey it’s David Lynch and we expect nothing less.
A more acidic take on the TV series he and Mark Frost originated in the early 1990s, director Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” is an even more perplexing freak show encircling a small town’s consignment of oddities and inhabitants, and as equally visually transcendent and thematically stunning.
Released on Blu-ray for the first time (and a long wait it has been of that), “Fire Walk With Me” is a solo Lynch returning to the anomalous folk he captured at the Double R-Diner, Red Room and abandoned Train carriage several years before – whilst turning the kook notch up to 11.
What most “Twin Peaks” fans want to know is whether or not the rumoured deleted scenes (of which there is purportedly a couple of hours worth) made it onto the Blu-ray version? Regrettably, no, they didn’t.
Tracing the events before the series pilot, “Fire Walk With Me” jets back to the last seven days of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), the murdered prom queen of the series.
Out of control, hornier than ever and just begging for affliction, Palmer’s got herself mixed up in an interchanging reality where men find her alluring, she finds sex overpowering, and soul-sucking demon fiends possess those close to her, preparing for her looming death. Yep, Laura Palmer’s on a one-way trip to hell.
Following the inexplicable disappearance of colleague, Agent Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak), pro snooper Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is called into action to head up an investigation to pick up where his predecessor left off. Seems a body floating in the water, belonging to a woman named Theresa Banks, leaves a path of clues and insight into revealing the man responsible for such gruesome acts. Thing is, he’s a demonic spirit. Uh-oh.
Ultimately confusing and nauseatingly opaque, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” has earned it’s share of criticism. What people forget though is that this is a movie Lynch was forcibly made to edit several times over.
On the other hand, Lynch is well known for his weird journeys into darkness and WeirdoVille – with “Twin Peaks” being a perfect example. The script of FWWM read very differently to the movie on screen; maybe that’s the reason it’s even more hard to comprehend than usual.
There’s a lot wrong with it. Mark Frost (who was busy filming his own movie “Storyville” at the time and so couldn’t fit this in) really should have been a part of it, because you really miss the humour of the series – most of which his hand was responsible for; too much of this thing is just crazy, crazy – but studio interference, not simply Lynch, may be to blame.
Lynch’s cut was several hours long (try 5!) and included a heap more characters, as well as plot points, and that rubbed the studio – always keen to fit in as many sessions of a film a day it can – up the wrong way. New Line decided to cut it down to a couple of hours long – but not only that, cut the film in a way that didn’t make sense at all. If you’ve ever read the script for the film you’ll know that in paper form, it does flow a lot better, and that the film skips over huge plot points. Worst of all, the structure is all off – it’s like someone switched reels 3 with 1 and just went with it. There’s a whole chunk of the story – Kiefer Sutherland’ s character has a lot more to do, as does Dale Cooper; not to mention many of the residents of Twin Peaks like Big Ed and Sheriff Truman, who don’t even show up in this cut – missing from the finished film and to this day, fans are still petitioning the studio to let us see the movie the way it was meant to be seen. Also disappointing is that Lara Flynn Boyle return as Donna, due to the nude scenes required. Though her replacement Moira Kelly was good enough, it’s Boyle that we signified with the part and therefore, struggled to get past the change of face. Fans weren’t impressed that Lynch didn’t resolve the series’ cliff-hanger ending (with Cooper’s doppelganger free in the real world, whilst the real one’s stuck in the Red Room) either.
But look, If you loved the show, you’ll like the movie. “Fire Walk With Me” is still an intriguing and visually arresting film experience. Sheryl Lee gives an award-worthy performance as the demonized Laura Palmer, while there’s great (if even too brief) turns from the likes of Kyle MacLachlan (briefly reprising his role as agent Dale Cooper – – who, quite frankly, the film needed more of), Harry Dean Stanton, crooner Chris Isaak, Gary Bullock and a twitchy Kiefer Sutherland. The star of the show might be Ray Wise though, again brilliant as the maniacal Leland Palmer. The cinematography, music and production design is also excellent.
Blu-ray details and extras :
As I said above, those many hours of deleted scenes aren’t on here – and quite frankly, I’ve given up all hope that we’ll one day see them.
Extras-wise, nothing to get too excited over at all – a making-of featurette, interviews with cast and crew, etc. We saw it ‘all’ before on the DVD.
Video-wise, this thing looks superb. There’s some noticeable edge enhancement, but otherwise it’s a crisp, highly-detailed and very colourful transfer.
Sound? Amazing. Lynch is always about having the best sound possible running simultaneously alongside his films’ vision, and the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track would definitely have met his requirements.