Monday, January 12, 2015

If you are asking yourself, "Did I just see TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME or the deleted scenes (THE MISSING PIECES) or some other fanedit/mix?" this post is for you.

Because Fire Walk With Me (the 1992 Twin Peaks prequel) is not available on most streaming services, many people attempt to download it. Unfortunately, this can yield alternate versions of the film. I've been noticing on Twitter, and elsewhere on the internet, that first-time viewers often emerge confused as to what they actually just saw.

Well, I'm here to help.

Below I have laid out the content of the deleted scenes, as well as the scenes from the actual movie. But first, some context. There are four possibilities...

1. Congratulations! You did just see Fire Walk With Me. With its abrupt shift in tone, dual narrative, and fragmented style, the film itself has perplexed viewers over the years. That said, it still plays like a feature film. Chances are if you think you just saw a collection of deleted scenes then you probably did just see a collection of deleted scenes.

2. Good news (sort of)! You just saw The Missing Pieces. This past summer, David Lynch released 90 minutes of unseen footage originally cut from the film. This is good news (sort of) because you haven't actually seen anything from Fire Walk With Me out of context (except for a few scenes that are extended in The Missing Pieces). Surprisingly, the deleted scenes actually make a good transition into the film. They are more in the style of the series (longer takes, wider shots) than the actual movie, and they bridge between the town's and Laura's perspective. If anything, you may enjoy the film even more now, so get to it! Word of advice, though, try renting the disc from Netflix or borrowing it from a friend before tossing the dice in Torrent-land once again...

3. Bad news (to my mind)! You just saw Q2's four-hour fanedit combining Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces. Just to be clear, I am not necessarily knocking Q2's efforts (which I haven't seen, although enjoyed his/her fanedit Northwest Passage, boiling Twin Peaks down to the Laura Palmer investigation). This compilation sounds like an interesting experiment...that should be watched only after you've already seen the film and deleted scenes in their proper context. Lynch presented them separately for a reason; the scenes, while entertaining on their own, mostly detract from the power of Laura's story. What's more, he cut and mixed them in a very different way from the film so I can't imagine they would gel aesthetically. If you watched this, my advice is to revisit Fire Walk With Me as it was meant to be seen, in its theatrical cut.

4. Worst news of all! You just saw some other fanedit that not only combines different material, but leaves out scenes from the movie. I've heard rumors that there are numerous "remixes" out there, playing fast and loose with what is and isn't in the actual film. Again, potentially interesting as an experiment but...not the best way to see this movie for the first time. If this is what you encountered, or think you encountered, then you are the one most in need of this list.

Just watched the film and you still have questions? Who doesn't?! Feel free to check out my video 7 Facts About Fire Walk With Me. It explores the context of the film's controversial relationship to the TV series. And more videos are on the way, with much to discuss. Fire Walk With Me is a rich, provocative movie that deserves to be seen in its proper context. Here is a list of deleted scenes, followed by a list of scenes in the actual movie:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Last week I posted chapter 21 of Journey Through Twin Peaks - "7 Facts About Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" - because I wanted it to go up before New Year's. To do so I had to skip a chapter, but with this video (the introduction to Part 4 of the video series) we're all caught up. I will probably not post again until I'm either done with the project or one last chapter remains. I'm expecting four more videos in the series. The first focuses on the FBI, Cooper, and the Teresa Banks investigation. The second explores Lynch's extension of the Twin Peaks mythology in Fire Walk With Me (including, hopefully, connections to the Rig Veda and Upanishads, which I am reading now). The third, which will probably be the longest chapter of the series, covers the last seven days of Laura Palmer and, finally, her death: a grim premise transformed - perhaps - into a spiritual climax (this may require a separate fourth chapter; we'll see). And then the final chapter traces the legacy of Twin Peaks mostly through the subsequent additions (Log Lady intros, Missing Pieces, Between Two Worlds, etc.) and feature films of David Lynch.

For now, you can watch Chapter 20: "Introducing Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" which sets up the themes (particularly through the title montage) that will be explored in the upcoming chapters, especially the Laura one.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And now we (begin to) reach my favorite part of Twin Peaks, and also one of the most troubled and controversial: Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prequel film by David Lynch. Although the film's reputation has improved since its disastrous reception two decades ago, it remains greatly misunderstood and underappreciated. I explore the context for positive and negative opinion in the following video (an excerpt from the upcoming Part 4 of Journey Through Twin Peaks, it can still be watched on its own). There are obviously many other details that could be pointed out: the film's structural messiness, the difficulty getting Kyle MacLachlan to do more than a cameo, the hour and a half of deleted footage. But these will be addressed in upcoming chapters and did not seem as integral to me as these seven fundamental facts. While some of these statements can seem more like opinions - how do we "prove" that Fire Walk With Me fulfills Twin Peaks? - they remain solidly rooted in visual and/or historical evidence which I present onscreen.

Needless to say, there are spoilers and graphic/disturbing content.

The video is presented below, alongside screen-caps of each of the seven facts for easy reference. Happy New Year - see you in 2015. Meanwhile, if you are new to Journey Through Twin Peaks you can watch Part 1 (Harmony of the Dark Woods), Part 2 (The Center Cannot Hold), and Part 3 (The Whole Damned Town). You can also start directly with Chapter 1 on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Well, it's finally here, just in time for Christmas...after nearly two months of preparation, I've finished Part 3 of my 4-part video series analyzing the narrative cycle of Twin Peaks from the pilot through Fire Walk With Me. This is longest video yet (split into 8 individual chapters on YouTube or a single 75-minute presentation on Vimeo), and certainly the most ambitious. Half of Part 3 continues the progression through the second half of the series, including the very weak episodes of the mid-season and the astonishing David Lynch-directed finale. The other half makes room for essential asides embracing the Twin Peaks as a whole, focused on the colorful ensemble, the palpable spirit of the show (including its early celebration in the media), the development of Agent Cooper as a complex character, and in the chapter which took the most time and effort, the mythology of the series.

If Part 2 hinted at divisions between Lynch and Frost in their interpretation of Laura Palmer, "The Whole Damned Town" further explores their fruitful creative tensions: their varying takes on Cooper (whom Lynch idealizes and Frost humanizes), and their individual contributions to the mythology - Lynch through personal, dreamlike images, Frost through concepts imported from Theosophy, the nineteenth-century spiritual movement begun by Madame Blavatsky. Visually, I had to get more creative in this part of my series, since much of the time I'm speaking of abstract ideas rather than something specifically happening onscreen. I had a lot of fun overlapping images, combining montages with pertinent quotes, and creating collages-in-motion. I've reproduced some of the images below.

Next up is Fire Walk With Me, hopefully early in January. It's my favorite piece of Twin Peaks and will conclude our journey so I'm really looking forward to it. Meanwhile, you can start with Part 1 (Harmony of the Dark Woods) and Part 2 (The Center Cannot Hold), or jump right into Part 3: The Whole Damned Town...

Monday, December 15, 2014

I've got good news (as the Little Man says)! "Journey Through Twin Peaks" is moving full speed ahead as I post the chapters of Part 3 one-by-one. This week I've finished chapters on the mid-season 2 doldrums, the spirit of Twin Peaks (including a look at the media buzz of season 1 and the Access Guide fake tour book), and the development of Agent Cooper as a character. Enjoy, and stay tuned as more chapters will post this week.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I planned to post more chapters of Part 3 but am holding off as I work out some issues with the videos. In the mean time, here is the chapter I put up early last week. It looks back over the various characters, reminding us who they are and what they do, as the series prepares for its post-Laura Palmer stretch. As I ask (rhetorically) at the end of the video: what could go wrong? Speaking of which, you may have trouble playing these on YouTube in the next few days. If so, stay tuned. I hope to resolve any issues and complete the series. And, as always, if you haven't watched them yet, here are Part 1 and Part 2. For now...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Unfortunately, I did not meet my November 30 deadline for posting Part 3 of the "Journey Through Twin Peaks" video series. Since June I have been posting one video a month but if I had to fall short of my goal, this is the occasion. When Part 3 does go up, it will be my longest, most ambitious video ever. One half cover the post-Laura episodes of the show, while the other half focuses on important individual subjects: the ensemble cast of characters, the atmosphere (and publicity) of Twin Peaks (town) and Twin Peaks (series), the evolution of Agent Cooper, and the mythology of the series. I discussed the upcoming video in greater detail last week.

Of course, I don't expect anyone to watch the entire video in one sitting (although you are certainly welcome to!). For that reason I will be dividing Part 3 into eight chapters, much like the other entries in the series. Unlike the other entries, I will be uploading each of these chapters up as they are finished, instead of waiting for everything to be done. I won't update this blog until Part 3 is complete, but if you follow my YouTube channel or you can check out the video piece by piece (I will also be sharing updates on Twitter).

Finally, as "12 Weeks of Twin Peaks" comes to a close on December 15, I want to establish what to expect. Originally I had several other posts planned - particularly a list of favorite scenes from the show and a long-planned close reading of Sheryl Lee's performance in Fire Walk With Me. The first, while fun, seems inessential - perhaps another time, perhaps not. The second is another matter - it's still something I very much want to do, maybe in a month or two. This allows more time to develop the piece (I've never focused an analysis entirely on a single performance before, so this will be a challenge). Furthermore, the essay will go up alongside classic film reviews, an important context because I view this as a great performance full-stop - work that can stand alongside great achievements from any era (but particularly the silent cinema, with which I see many similarities in style). Hopefully, I'll continue this approach in the future: two other underrated/overlooked performances I would like to honor are Bing Crosby in The Country Girl and Anna Magnani in Mamma Roma.

For the moment, I am going to focus exclusively on the two remaining parts of the video series (after which I will post some round-ups, of all my Twin Peaks videos and also of extra pictures from my "90 Years of Cinema" tribute on Twitter, followed by some good old-fashioned straight-up movie reviews in January!). After Part 3 is finished, I will jump right into Part 4. It may be unrealistic for me to finish it by the December 15 deadline, but I don't expect it to take nearly as long as Parts 2 and 3. Part 4 only deals with Fire Walk With Me (i.e. two hours of material, rather than fourteen!), which is a subject I don't need to research nearly as much. It's my favorite piece of the puzzle and something I've already written about numerous times: though I will be taking a very different approach, and embracing a very new perspective, in this video. This, basically, is what I've been working towards all year, at least since the conversation with Tony Dayoub in the spring. In the mean time here, if you haven't yet, check out Part 1 (Harmony of the Dark Woods) and Part 2 (The Center Cannot Hold) of "Journey Through Twin Peaks."

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's the final Monday of November and, once again, I'm still working on this month's entry in Journey Through Twin Peaks, my 4-part video series covering the series and film in chronological order. Part 3, "The Whole Damned Town," is my most ambitious video yet, covering the most episodes (from the extremely weak post-Laura episodes to the stunning Lynch-directed finale) while also devoting half its chapters to important asides: the cast of characters, the atmosphere of Twin Peaks (show and town), Cooper's character arc, and the series mythology. Among other elements, Part 3 explores the good and bad points of season two, spin-off books like My Life, My Tapes (the Cooper "autobiography") and the Access Guide, the influence of Theosophy, and divergences in Lynch's and Frost's interpretation of Agent Cooper. There will be eight chapters in this entry; in lieu of the eventual upload here is a sneak preview of what's on the way (descriptions include spoilers, as will the videos obviously)...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Online commentary from the original Usenet newsgroup (1990-93)

What if the internet had existed when Twin Peaks originally aired? did. Sort of. The average viewer did not have online access when the first episode aired on April 8, 1990, nor when Laura Palmer's killer was finally revealed on November 10, 1990, nor when the final episode aired as a Monday night movie-of-the-week on June 10, 1991, nor when the prequel film limped into theaters on August 28, 1992. Of course, the average viewer wasn't paying attention to Twin Peaks at all by those later points - so the following commentators are exceptional not only for their internet savvy, but for their enthusiastic devotion to David Lynch's and Mark Frost's unique world.

I'm not going to attempt to explain Usenet or newsgroups or the pre-World Wide Web internet because I don't really understand them myself. As far as I was aware, the "Information Superhighway" popped out of nowhere in the fall of 1995, when I entered jr. high. Yet since the late seventies, computer networks had been facilitating communication between people with (I believe) institutional access to the internet. Usenet (which is still available today) was among the most popular of these networks. Newsgroups conducted conversations on particular topics, and quickly became one of the most noted newsgroups. Episodes were immediately analyzed, theories were tossed about, and hoaxes were pulled by clever fans.

The newsgroup remains active today, nearly twenty-five years later, as a Google group with over 28,000 topics archived. Through keyword searches, I was able to bookmark many of the early posts, from the show's initial run. Then I made a completely subjective selection of 108 posts that seemed interesting and representative. Consider this a companion piece to my round-up of Twin Peaks media commentary this spring. I am endlessly fascinated by how new viewers react to the show as it unfolds, as well as how the show was received when it first aired, so for me this was pig heaven. (Also worth checking out is this thread I started for fans to share their memories of the original series run).

In 2016, fans from all over the world will share immediate reactions and attempt to make sense of the insensible via Twitter, Facebook, and all variety of internet forums, using phones, tablets, and other devices. Though their numbers will be greater, they will be not be the first do so. Here then, is a glimpse of the first generation of online Twin Peaks fans attempting to figure out who killed Laura Palmer, praising and complaining about the show's twists and turns, and reacting to Dick Tremayne's famous death scene (you'll see). The further we go, the more absorbing the commentary becomes: detailed psychological evaluations of the characters and situations, evocative first-hand accounts of the Fire Walk With Me shoot, even speculative predictions that Twin Peaks will return in 2014! "Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see," indeed...

Monday, November 10, 2014

This summer I spent an hour or two chatting with Cameron Cloutier, prolific host of the "Obnoxious and Anonymous" podcast, about Twin Peaks. Since then so much has changed - Brad Dukes' Reflections book has clarified a lot of Twin Peaks history, The Entire Mystery blu-ray unveiled the "missing pieces" of Fire Walk With Me along with a new look at the Palmer family, and most notably David Lynch and Mark Frost announced that they would be (gasp!) returning to Twin Peaks after all. With all that in mind, Cameron and I joined forces for another lively discussion. This time we cover (among other topics) the nature of David Lynch's collaboration with Mark Frost (and editor Mary Sweeney), the difference in how the two creators treat Agent Cooper, Ronnete Pulaski's importance to the Laura Palmer tale, and the strange contradiction between Lynch's desire to keep Laura's killer a secret (perhaps forever) and to explore that secret in detail in Fire Walk With Me. Quite a lot to unpack, so please share your own thoughts below.

I also encourage you to check out Twin Peaks Worldwide, a new blog spun off from the popular Facebook group. The latest post addresses that perennial question haunting Twin Peaks (second only to "How's Annie?"): who is Judy? Share your thoughts over there; I already have.

My podcast with Cameron follows the jump. And stay tuned over the coming month as 12 Weeks of Twin Peaks continues with a new entry every Monday, including further chapters in my Journey Through Twin Peaks video series (which I hope you'll check out if you haven't yet - this is some of the work I'm proudest of in my six years of blogging).