Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me ★★★★★

This has definitely grown on me with each viewing, and now it’s at the point where I think it’s as essential as all his best work thematically and aesthetically, even removed from Twin Peaks canon. The original series and Blue Velvet take on suburbia by showing the seedy underbelly of an idyllic town, but what the series taps into briefly that FWWM really develops is the idea that the underlying evil of suburbia is actually within the home, which is far more terrifying. Laura as a character also has the same dynamic of polished on the surface and grotesque underneath. In the show, finding out what dubious things she was up to adds mystique and confusion, but seeing her life as it was with no mystery is just depressing, especially because of how well it’s established as a result of her brutal home life/Bob.

The six episodes David Lynch directed are by far the best six episodes in the original series, and dropping network limitations lets him get so much more visceral, not just in profanity and nudity and disturbing images. The car scene with Philip Gerard/Mike isn’t particularly vulgar or violent, but the way it’s edited and acted is still way more disturbing than anything that made it into the show. And the new ground paved within the canon is great: the FBI stuff, the expansion of the black lodge (the introduction of the woodsmen), and even new aesthetic ground, like the new font with white text or blue becoming the new prominent color of the series after the show’s obsession with red and earth tones. The only thing I used to think was a little generic about FWWM compared to the show was the score, but this time around it worked so much better for me. It gets into the quirky soft-shoe much of the original score consists of, but a lot of the time it drops any quirk or swank and is a lot more subdued, even romantic, which makes the whole thing feel a lot more like a full-on tragedy than a mystery with tragic elements.

Watching it this time around makes The Return feel a lot less out of left field too, as you can see Lynch establishing a new language for Twin Peaks here, with the drawn-out sequences and scenes that kind of go nowhere and don’t tie into the “main plot.” You can see the original Lynch-directed episodes trying to do this but couldn’t indulge as much because of TV time restraints (even though the season premieres are quite long and the whole show still managed to get far more atmospheric than most TV would allow and FWWM still had to cut down for its theatrical cut, most of these drawn-out and dead-end scenes coming from The Missing Pieces). For this reason, one would be a lot better off jumping into The Return having only seen FWWM than having only seen the original series, not just for narrative coherence but because of these established aesthetic ideas that make The Return feel like the only logical next step for the series. I’m kind of blown away right now.

Watched on The Entire Mystery blu-ray (with The Missing Pieces)

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