Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is both a prologue and coda to the Twin Peaks series. It tells of the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks, the first victim of Laura Palmer's killer. Then it jumps to the last seven days of Laura's life.
David Lynch was not ready to leave the world of Twin Peaks when the series was cancelled, so just a month later he announced he would be making three movies that would continue and conclude the series' narrative, and explore the mythology of the Black Lodge. He wrote the script for Twin Peaks: FWWM with Robert Engels (who previously wrote some of the series' episodes). Series co-creator Mark Frost was not involved.
Twin Peaks: FWWM is a prologue, but it should be watched after the series as it assumes the viewer already knows who killed Laura Palmer, and about the existence and nature of the Black Lodge and its inhabitants. Lynch and Engels inserted two characters into the script (Agent Chester Desmond and Agent Phillip Jeffries) who together with Agent Dale Cooper and Major Garland Briggs from the original series were supposed to act as leads to the next two movies. The box-office failure of Twin Peaks: FWWM, however, caused Lynch to abandon any plans for sequels.
Most of the television cast returned for the film, but Laura's best friend Donna Hayward, had to be played by a different actress, due to scheduling conflicts. Kyle MacLachlan who plays Agent Cooper returned reluctantly as he wanted to avoid typecasting, so his presence in the film is smaller than originally planned. Most of the characters from the television series appeared in scenes that were cut from the finished film.
The movie starts with an axe smashing a TV, indicating to the viewer that unlike the original series, this movie was not made for television. In fact it features bad language, violence, drug taking, and nudity. Unfortunately the movie doesn't have any of the series' quirky humour, it's tone is either serious, or surreal and nightmarish.
|Lil the Dancer|
After a brief scene showing Teresa Banks' body wrapped in plastic floating on a river we're shown FBI Supervisor Gordon Cole (David Lynch) sending veteran Special Agent Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley to Deer Meadow to investigate her death. Before they leave he shows them a bizarre character called Lil the Dancer. On their way Desmond explains to Stanley that each detail about Lil is a message from Gordon about their case. This is a good prologue of the movie, as many scenes are cryptic and require interpretation.
|FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper|
After Desmond and Stanley's investigation in Deer Meadow we're taken to the FBI headquarters in Philadelphia, where Special Agent Cooper talks about a dream and starts acting bizarrely. Suddenly long-lost Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) re-appears and talks about the Black Lodge.
The last part of the movie shows us Laura Palmer's last seven days before she was murdered. There are no ground breaking revelations, but we explore further Laura's relationships with her father Leland, BOB, her best friend Donna, and her two boyfriends Bobby Briggs and James Hurley. We're shown more of Ronette Pulaski, and in flashbacks we're shown Teresa Banks' relationship to the characters from Twin Peaks and the events that led to her murder.
The first two parts of the movie (Deer Meadow and FBI Headquarters) feature new music, but it's still very effective at creating atmosphere. The familiar Twin Peaks themes return in the third part of the movie dealing with Laura Palmer. Similarly to the series, this movie has lots of eerie sounds.
My only complaint is that in two scenes the viewer can barely understand what the characters are saying. In the scenes with the inhabitants of the Black Lodge this is due the weird dialect used, and to the sound of static in the background. While in a long scene in a nightclub the loud music drowns out the voices. Some versions of the movie came without or with incomplete subtitles for these parts.
I was disappointed the beautiful nature shots, the waterfall, and the Great Northern Hotel with it's incredible all wood interior and stuffed animal and fish decorations which had been used in the series are gone. However the scenes from the Black Lodge (or is it the waiting room for the Lodges) and scene in the room above a convenience store are more surreal than ever.
Final Verdict ★★★☆☆
This movie shows events which were mentioned in the original series - the investigation into Teresa Banks' murder, and the events leading up to Laura Palmer's murder. We are given further details, such as what led to Teresa Banks' murder and her relationship to the characters from Twin Peaks. We are also shown much more about Laura's relationship with the other characters, and what led to her murder. However there are no big surprises.
The other parts of the movie show cryptic events that were probably intended to be understood had the next two movies in the series been filmed.
Unfortunately this movie has little to offer the casual viewer. Even fans who watched all the series will have a hard time understanding some parts, and might find it impossible to understand others. To this end, I'm including below an explanation for the cryptic parts of the movie. Hopefully this will increase your viewing enjoyment.
Part I of this article series - Twin Peaks (1990 - 1991)
Part III of this article series - The World of Twin Peaks: By Design or by Chance?
Deciphering Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
Lil the Dancer - Why does Gordon use such a curious method to brief his agents? Some fans think it's because he talks loudly, so by using Lil he's being discrete, while others think it's David Lynch making a joke out of the fact that Twin Peaks fans will try to examine each and every small detail of the show to decipher the unanswered plot details (as we're doing here).
Blue Rose - It's Gordon's way of telling agents that a case is involves unexplainable phenomena (as a blue rose is not a naturally occurring phenomenon). Alternatively it could refer to Project Blue Book, discussed in the series, which deals with the investigations of UFOs.
Electricity (cables and poles) and television static - Indicate something paranormal is happening.
Indian Whooping sound - The Man From Another Place / MIKE says "I sound like this" in the convenience store scene. Whenever we hear that sound in a scene it means he is involved.
Owl Ring - I haven't been able to find a satisfactory explanation on the internet. The clues are: ☠ Spoiler Alert » It belongs to the Man From Another Place / MIKE. Teresa Banks wore it. When Agent Desmond touches it he disappears. When the ring is offered to Laura, Cooper tells her not to take it. When Laura is in the train car she wears the ring, preventing BOB from possessing her. I think the clue everybody is missing is that in the convenience store scene the Man From Another Place says "With this ring I thee wed". I think the Man From Another Place / MIKE owns the soul of whoever wears the ring. « Spoiler Alert ☠
Judy - Agent Phillip Jeffries mentions a Judy, and the monkey at the end of the movie says "Judy". In an interview Robert Engels said Judy was Josie Packard's sister, who was involved in dealings with Agent Jeffries and ex-Agent Windom Earle in Buenos Aires. This plot thread would have been expanded upon had there ever been any subsequent Twin Peaks movies. In the original series Major Briggs shouts "Judy? Judy Garland?" but this is probably unrelated, and is a reference to the movie The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Convenience store - This is the scene where we see the inhabitants of the Black Lodge in a dirty room. In the series, Philip Gerard the one armed man tells Cooper that the Black Lodge spirits lived above a convenience store when in the human world. The woodsman in this scene is the Log Lady's husband who died in a forest fire.
Garmonbozia / creamed corn - Garmonbozia is the physical manifestation of people's pain and suffering which the inhabitants of the Black Lodge feed on. It is represented by creamed corn. We are also shown creamed corn in the original series in the scene with Mrs. Tremond (Chalfont) and her Grandson.
"Let's Rock" - These words are written on the windshield of Agent Desmond's car ☠ Spoiler Alert » after he disappears. « Spoiler Alert ☠ They are the first words the Man From Another Place says in the original series, so it shows he is somehow involved.
Drug dealer killed ☠ Spoiler Alert » by Bobby - He is the Deer Meadow Police Deputy that had a run-in with FBI Agent Chet Desmond earlier in the movie. « Spoiler Alert ☠ This murder is only briefly mentioned in the series pilot, when James is telling Donna of his last night with Laura.
Annie Blackburn - This is the coda to Agent Cooper's story. ☠ Spoiler Alert »Annie enters the Black Lodge at the end of the original series, but mysteriously appears covered in blood in Laura Palmer's bed. This is possible because the events of the Black Lodge are non-linear (they defy the laws of time and space).
Annie tells Laura that "the good Dale" (Cooper) is trapped in the Black Lodge, can't leave, and that she should write this in her diary. This suggests that the Dale Cooper inhabited by BOB seen in the bathroom in the final episode of the series is the evil doppelganger that chases Cooper through the Black Lodge. It can also be surmised that in warning Laura, Annie was attempting to stop Dale Cooper becoming trapped in the Black Lodge in the first place. Alternately, it could be interpreted as a way by which Dale's plight could become known to Sheriff Truman, who was in possession of Laura's diary and could have eventually found this message, leading to the rescue of the "real" Dale Cooper. « Spoiler Alert ☠