A snowy television sits by the window, undisturbed until it is smashed to sparks. A girl screams and the screen cuts to black. The next morning, a body, wrapped in plastic, floats along the lake. That the name linked to the girl is Teresa Banks and not Laura Palmer is the first peculiarity of TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, a prequel to David Lynch and Mark Frost’s television series.
FIRE WALK WITH ME, for the majority, is set in the week leading up to Laura Palmer’s murder. (This review has no words to spare to get into the specifics of that case. Indeed, any review of FIRE WALK WITH ME is for those versed in the series.) It’s here that viewers get a more in-depth look at the homecoming queen (Sheryl Lee, who spent more screentime on the series playing lookalike cousin Maddy Ferguson than Laura Palmer)–who she was, how she felt, what she wanted. We get to better explore her relationships with lovers Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) and James Hurley (James Marshall), her friendship with classmate Donna Hayward (Moira Kelly, replacing Lara Flynn Boyle) and her murder at the hands of her father, Leland (Ray Wise).
There, too, is Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachan, in his third theatrical pairing with Lynch, after DUNE and BLUE VELVET), Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick) and Leo Johnson (Eric Da Re), as well as trademark characters like The Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson), The Man from Another Place (Michael J. Anderson) and BOB (Mike Silva). That’s not to mention new faces played by Chris Isaak, David Bowie, Harry Dean Stanton and more.
Yes, FIRE WALK WITH ME is a multilayered one–but that doesn’t mean one wants to sift through them all. Often, the film offers a lump of scenes that are extremely in the fashion of TWIN PEAKS (how could they not be?), but feel only sorta-kinda linked to anything casual fans of the series (which had ended less than a year before FIRE WALK WITH ME’s Cannes premiere) would fully care about.
Indeed, FIRE WALK WITH ME is a film solely and strictly for the cult. Those familiar with the series but who depended on TV Guide to speculate Who killed Laura Palmer? and were not keen on the surreal world that the question exists in will likely be turned off, much disinterested in the daily life of the teen.
FIRE WALK WITH ME is a supplement to the series, not unlike material such as the 1990 book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and 2014’s TWIN PEAKS: THE MISSING PIECES, which is merely a collection of deleted and extended scenes. It is not sloppily or hastily made–there is clear care put in by Lynch and company–but it feels useless. And that’s what’s infuriating about it. As oddball and endearing it is (for Lynch fans, anyway)–the number of boggling and disturbing images and scenarios within rival any other Lynch work–the film can’t support its own existence.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. “Supervised by director David Lynch, this digital transfer was scanned from the 35 mm original camera negative by MK2 at Éclair Laboratories in Vanves, France, and restored in 4K resolution at CBS Television City in Hollywood.”
TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME looks wonderful in this transfer, with stellar details, sharp colors, deep blacks and an overall pristine image that works towards making this the best the film has looked on home video.
Audio: English 7.1 Surround. “The 7.1 surround soundtrack was created in 2014 by rerecording mixer Dean Hurley and Lynch at the director’s own Asymmetrical Studio in Los Angeles. It was made using the original 35 mm magnetic stock stems, which were originally created in configurations of monaural dialogue, LCR effects, stereo additional effects, and stereo music reels. The original 2.0 surround magnetic printmaster was digitized along with period laserdisc source audio for A/B comparative listening reference. The original theatrical and early home-video sources of the film’s “Partyland” scene had historically featured music that intentionally obscured dialogue intelligibility to convey the oppressively loud bar environment. This was adhered to for this mix, correcting an early-2000s 5.1 surround mix that failed to carry over that relationship between the music and the dialogue. A specific mix buss chain was developed for this mix that emulates the EQ, tape saturation, and dynamic characteristics of older full-coat magnetic printmasters that Lynch has an affinity for. The original 2.0 surround soundtrack was mastered from the 35 mm magnetic printmaster.”
The audio transfer is also without flaw, boasting crisp dialogue (except, of course, in the aforementioned “Partyland” scene…), an effective Angelo Badalamenti score and often disturbing SFX.
The Missing Pieces (1:31:23): Assembled by David Lynch, this extensive collection of deleted scenes and alternate takes offers an even more complex and thorough interpretation of the events surrounding FIRE WALK WITH ME and the TWIN PEAKS universe. Essential viewing for die-hard fans.
Sheryl Lee (22:16): In this new interview, Lee reflects on taking on the role of Laura Palmer, working with Lynch, the film’s production, key elements of the film and more.
Angelo Badalamenti (20:15): In this new interview, composer Badalamenti discusses collaborating with Lynch, his contributions and more.
Actors’ Discussion (28:24): Lynch, Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer) and Lee (Laura Palmer) sit down for an intimate conversation.
Also included with this Criterion Collection release: Excerpts from an interview with Lynch from Lynch on Lynch, a 1997 book edited by filmmaker and writer Chris Rodley.