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Review: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

Directed by: | 135 minutes | drama, , , fantasy, fiction | Actors: , Ray Wise, , , Phoebe Augustine, , Eric DaRe, Kyle MacLachlan, , , , , Moira Kelly, Peggy Lipton, David Lynch, , Jürgen Prochnow, Harry Dean Stanton, Kiefer Sutherland, Lenny von Dohlen, Grace Zabriskie, Frances Bay, , , Frank Silva, Walter Olkewicz, , Gary Hershberger

Despite the fact that ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ came out about a year after the hit series ‘Twin Peaks’ came to an end, the film mainly acts as a prequel to the series. The film focuses on the last few days of Laura Palmer’s life, although the print can also be seen as a kind of epilogue that ties together many of the remaining loose ends from the series. David Lynch himself said that he wanted to make the film at the time to give the story a worthy ending and because he himself was not yet ready to leave the world of ‘Twin Peaks’ behind him for good. Unlike the series, the film was not simply overloaded with praise. On the contrary, for example, the film was received very negatively at the Cannes Film Festival and many leading film critics also felt it necessary to overload Lynch’s project with the necessary scorn. Many have called the film a failed attempt to bring the character Laura Palmer to life and give it a face. Morbid, grotesque, extremely confusing and stylistically beautiful, but story-wise totally uninteresting were just a few qualifications that surfaced in various newspapers and film magazines.

Viewers expecting a perfect blueprint of the series and a fairly predictable iteration of moves might indeed be disappointed after watching ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’. Despite the fact that many characters from the series are reappearing, the film differs significantly from the series in several respects. For example, ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ is much grimmer, darker and more surreal than ‘Twin Peaks’ has ever been. The series regularly left room for a comical note, while the film lacks almost every trace of humor. Above all, it is a dark, morbid and far from cheerful character sketch of a tormented personality. It soon becomes clear that Laura is not the good and happy teenage girl that many villagers make of her. She is addicted to drugs, has multiple lovers and prostitutes. Despite this, Laura is mainly a victim of her inner demons and she is burdened by the yoke that comes with a long history of sexual abuse. Lynch’s account is depressing in the sense that the average viewer will ultimately not see a satisfactory way out for Laura from her misery. Yet this alternative artistic approach makes ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ not so much an inferior piece of work if you draw a comparison with its illustrious predecessor, but rather a completely different kind of cinematographic masterpiece. Despite this, Laura is mainly a victim of her inner demons and she is burdened by the yoke that comes with a long history of sexual abuse. Lynch’s account is depressing in the sense that the average viewer will ultimately not see a satisfactory way out for Laura from her misery. Yet this alternative artistic approach makes ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ not so much an inferior piece of work if you draw a comparison with its illustrious predecessor, but rather a completely different kind of cinematographic masterpiece. Despite this, Laura is mainly a victim of her inner demons and she is burdened by the yoke that comes with a long history of sexual abuse. Lynch’s account is depressing in the sense that the average viewer will ultimately not see a satisfactory way out for Laura from her misery. Yet this alternative artistic approach makes ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ not so much an inferior piece of work if you draw a comparison with its illustrious predecessor, but rather a completely different kind of cinematographic masterpiece. Lynch’s account is depressing in the sense that the average viewer will ultimately not see a satisfactory way out for Laura from her misery. Yet this alternative artistic approach makes ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ not so much an inferior piece of work if you draw a comparison with its illustrious predecessor, but rather a completely different kind of cinematographic masterpiece. Lynch’s account is depressing in the sense that the average viewer will ultimately not see a satisfactory way out for Laura from her misery. Yet this alternative artistic approach makes ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ not so much an inferior piece of work if you draw a comparison with its illustrious predecessor, but rather a completely different kind of cinematographic masterpiece.

Nevertheless, the typical artistic ingredients that are all too well known to the Lynch fan are not lacking in this print. Just like in ‘Mulholland Drive’, the phenomenon of dream also plays an important role in ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’. The dividing line between dream and reality and between false world and the real world remains extremely thin and is mainly used by Lynch to provide the story with the necessary extra metaphorical symbolism. Also interesting is the role of various ghostly apparitions such as the evil spirit Bob or The Man From Another Place. Are these figures that only populate the dream world? Or are we dealing here with real, existing entities that leave a significant mark on the lives of Twin Peaks residents such as Laura and Leland Palmer? The nice thing is that Lynch does not provide ready-made answers to these questions and makes an important appeal to the interpretative powers of the viewer.

The disadvantage of the film is the absence of some interesting characters from the series, but for the story told in ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ this in itself has little effect. ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ is certainly not an easy film that will certainly appeal to a very wide audience. The surrealistic approach and the dark, gloomy character ensure that the film exudes a certain melancholy and has a strong effect on the imagination and empathy of the viewer. Moreover, the film will not immediately convince every fan of the ‘Twin Peaks’ series due to its different character. However, anyone who takes the trouble to look further will discover that David Lynch has once again managed to conjure up a seriously underestimated quality print with ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’.

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