Release Date(s)1992 (October 17, 2017)
Studio(s)New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. (Criterion – Spine #898)
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A-
It’s difficult to put into words just how earth-shattering Twin Peaks was when its first season aired way back in the spring of 1990. There was nothing like it at the time and it inspired countless TV shows thereafter, forever cementing itself as one of broadcast TV’s truly unique experiences. For its creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost, it was also a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions because they were put into the awkward position of not having as much creative control as they would have liked. While Frost initially was done with the world of Twin Peaks when the series ended, David Lynch was keen on returning to it. He wanted the freedom to explore not just the story but the artistic side of it, and he got what he wanted in 1992 with his film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
Initially, fans were more than divided upon the release of the film, much like they were with the recent incarnation of the show’s third season. Instead of simply continuing the story after the much-talked about series’ cliffhanger, Lynch opted to instead to do a prequel, which explored more of Laura Palmer’s life, as well as the F.B.I. investigation which lead them to the town of Twin Peaks in the first place. Without getting into spoiler territory, it also tackled the heavy subject of the events that lead to Laura Palmer’s death. Although nearly five hours of material was shot, including many moments with other characters from the show, much of it was cut in favor of storytelling through aesthetic – something that Lynch has now come full circle with in the new series.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is not, in any way shape or form, an easy film to approach. It’s a dark tale with little to no levity to it, the opposite of what the TV show was. However, it also showcases a strong leading performance from Sheryl Lee, who is absolutely fearless in it. Although my initial knee-jerk reaction to it was not one of pure positivity, I find myself being drawn back to it and learning new things about it, especially after seeing the third season which has more to do with this film than it does the original show. It’s almost a think piece, or an art film if you will, and I dare say that it’s a masterpiece of sorts, but with some obvious reservations that go along with it. And if anything came out of the initial disappointment of the film, it was to never underestimate David Lynch. The man is a true artist in every sense of the word, and because of this, one must leave expectations at the door. Questions will be left unanswered with almost no intention of conclusion, which is why when Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me premiered in 1992, it left more than a few folks scratching their collective noggins.
The last time we saw Fire Walk with Me on Blu-ray, it was in the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-ray boxed set from CBS (which Dr. Jahnke reviewed here). For Criterion’s release of the film, they have utilized a 4K transfer from the original 35mm camera negative (the same source as the CBS BD), which was scanned by MK2 at Eclair Laboratories in Vanves, France and restored at CBS Television City in Hollywood, California. Not only that, but the entire process was supervised by David Lynch himself. To say that this is the authoritative home video release of Fire Walk With Me would be a bit of an understatement. It's an absolutely gorgeous transfer with improved grain stability, detail, color reproduction, black levels, shadow detail, contrast, brightness, and frame stability. It’s a rich-looking presentation of the film, with particular regards to skin tones and green hues. The hot red of Lil’s outfit, for instance, as well as the shades of blue on the rose attached to it, now pop dramatically. It’s also incredibly clean with little to no damage or age-related wear and tear leftover. For the audio, two options are presented: an English 2.0 DTS-HD track, as well as a 7.1 DTS-HD mix, also supervised by Lynch. While I’m usually a purist in regards to older films, the 7.1 track is phenomenal with incredible depth and nuance in every single scene. Dynamics and ambient activity, as well as LFE, are astounding, enveloping you at every turn. Dialogue is also perfectly audible, aside from the club scene when we’re not meant to hear everything clearly. The mixing error found in the early 2000s 5.1 mix of the film where you could hear the dialogue in that scene perfectly is now long gone. This is a perfect Blu-ray presentation, and for those who might need them, subtitles in English SDH are included as well (take note that the aforementioned club scene plays them automatically).
For the supplemental materials, Criterion has managed to carry over several things from The Entire Mystery set, including The Missing Pieces, an hour and a half of deleted scenes which are fascinating viewing and give you a glimpse of what the film could have been like if Lynch had been initially permitted to create a much longer version of it. New to the fold are two interviews with Sheryl Lee and composer Angelo Badalamenti, both of which are terrific. Badalamenti even tells an enchanting story about the Queen of England telling Paul McCartney that she wouldn’t be able to attend his performance that night because Twin Peaks was due to air in just a few minutes. Also carried over is Charles de Lauzirika’s Between Two Worlds, a great roundtable discussion between David Lynch, Sheryl Lee, Grace Zabriskie, and Ray Wise; the U.S. theatrical trailer; the international theatrical trailer; the trailer for The Missing Pieces; and a 48-page insert booklet with excerpts from the book “Lynch on Lynch” entitled “Suddenly My House Became a Tree of Sores: A Tale of Twin Peaks” by Chris Rodley, as well as restoration details. Not included from previous releases are archival interviews with Ray Wise, Sheryl Lee, Moira Kelly and Mädchen Amick; the Moving Through Time: Fire Walk With Me Memories featurette; the Reflections on the Phenomenon of Twin Peaks featurette; and a still gallery. Just as a side note, also missing are the film’s original TV spots, which can be found elsewhere if you’re interested.
I know we say this a lot about Criterion’s output, but their release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me really is the cream of the crop. I have a feeling that many will be revisiting the film after seeing the new season of the show and finding more about it to appreciate. It could have been the start of a series of films about Twin Peaks, but unfortunately, it was so poorly received at the time that it put the proverbial nail in the coffin on that idea. Thankfully, Lynch returned once more, and we now have three equally-compelling on-screen excursions into the world of Twin Peaks.
- Tim Salmons