Booed at Cannes, critically panned (mostly) and a huge disappointment to many fans, Fire Walk With Me nonetheless remains a fundamental piece of the big-picture of the Twin Peaks and part of a tapestry of secrets and lies and double identities and investigation into the nature of evil that remains stunningly relevant a quarter century after its debut.
With the much anticipated third season of Twin Peaks (which hits Showtime a mere 27 years after a troubled plastic-wrapped homecoming queen washed up outside a sawmill) upon us, here are six reasons to re-watch the film. (If you are completely new to Lynch’s Northwest-noir-soap-opera-mystery universe I recommend watching the series before the movie.)
1. Re-Immerse Yourself in Lynch’s Bizarre Mélange of Nightmarish Mystery and Unreconstructed Melodramatics.
Fire Walk With Me is a prequel, detailing the last few days before Laura Palmer is found dead (which is where the series begins). Its tone is much darker than that of the series, which liberally mixed humor and romance into the cocktail. The film tracks Laura completely, like a sort of negative of the series, where she was an empty space around which everyone else constellated (just like her namesake, Laura Hunt in Otto Preminger’s masterful noir, Laura). A great many of the series’ unanswered questions get answered, and in some ways that’s actually incredibly unsatisfying, because the unanswered ineffables are really what Lynch at his best is all about. However, you might need those answers to get what’s going down in the new season.
The word “garmonbozia” is used quite frequently at my house, often with respect to the bathroom the kids use. It’s a good word.
3. The Possible Reappearance of Special Agent Chet Desmond.
Special Agent Chet Desmond (Chris Isaac) disappears in a highly mysterious fashion in the movie during the investigation of a related murder, and it’s never tied off. The Season 3 cast list doesn’t include Chris Isaac, but it’s possible another actor might have taken over his role, as Moira Kelly took on the character of Donna Hayward in the film. So, if the storyline should happen to include the reappearance of Desmond, you’ll want to be familiar with the character and he isn’t in the original two seasons.
4. That Has a Familiar Ring to It.
A ring, carved with the Owl Cave symbol from the series, appears in the movie in several key places, including on Laura’s finger when she is killed. Rings were almost as common a device in the series as doubles or “twins”: The entrance to the Black Lodge is in a ring of sycamore trees. There are repeated shots of rotating ceiling fans and turntables. There’s a very portentous moment when the giant appears to Cooper and takes his ring, saying he will give it back once Cooper figures out his three clues (which he does). And I know sometimes a donut is just a donut, but c’mon. In the series, such symbolism seemed to represent eternal return or things coming full circle. In the film, the ring is a plot device, so if you want to know what’s going on there: movie.
5. David Lynch. Serial Shout-Outer.
Lynch’s movies are always peppered with references to other movies. If you think he won’t reference his own movie in the new season-unthink it. Especially since he’s already said the movie is “very much important” to the new season.
6. The chance to watch Kyle MacLachlan staring meaningfully at things.
I don’t know about you, but I could watch that guy’s face all day.
“I’ll see you again in 25 years,” Laura Palmer (or her spirit) says to Agent Cooper in the Black Lodge during the stunning Season 2 finale. Okay, so it’s been 27, but she was close. Talk about coming full circle: that’s going to be a hell of a reunion. And whatever happens, you can bet Lynch has woven a web of references to the series’ past, including the maligned prequel. If you want to catch everything, you should probably make time for Fire Walk With Me. You know: Put it in your diary.