Saturday, April 12, 2008

No one is inoccent

Let me be clear. I loved Twin Peaks. Hands down, the BEST show to appear on American Television. It was so counter to television formula of the time, I honestly don't know how it survived into a second season, but I'm eternally grateful that it did. It left a wake in the broadcast landscape that you can still feel today. Suggest any edgy, off-beat or marginally bizarre television show and I guarantee that I can trace it's roots right back to Sparkwood and 21.

The thought of a follow on movie to a canceled television series, a prequel to the series, mind you, surely came as a surprise to many who followed the show. As any Star Wars fan can attest, how do you build suspense into a story for which you already know the outcome? The international subtitle, The Last 7 Days of Laura Palmer, further hammered it home. Fans of the show would surely be disappointed that the lead, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, would not be a focal point. Could Lynch pull it off?

When the film opened on August 28, 1992, I would have loved no more than to be first in line. Unfortunately, Vonna and I had arranged to meet splatterpunk authors John Skipp and Craig Spector, who were in town for a Fangoria show, for drinks to discuss marketing ideas for their book/soundtrack project, The Bridge. Something prevented us from seeing the film on Saturday the 29th as well, but we wouldn't be denied a third day.

From the hypnotic opening theme by Angeleo Badalmenti, it was like entering a dream world. I was back in Twin Peaks - with Laura, Bobby, Leland, and Bob... The show had its share of high and low points - most of the highs seemed connected to a greater Lynch presence. The film was like drinking Lynch straight from the tap - no filtering; no apologies. The strongest and darkest moments of the series were on display, looking beautiful thanks to the amazing camerawork of Ron Garcia, and all the more captivating due to the tour-de-force performance of Sheryl Lee. Almost 16 years later, I still feel that Fire Walk With Me was the greatest film of 1992, and that Sheryl Lee gave the finest performance of the year.

There are few filmmakers who you could extract a frame of film from their work and display it as art. Lynch is one, and Fire Walk With Me is a gallery full of such images. From haunting to beautiful to brutal to terrifying. And yet somehow embracing a sense of hope...

Needless to say, one viewing was not enough. Knowing the film wouldn't attract a wide audience, I knew that the opportunity to see it would be limited. So on Monday, we invited Becky to see it with us. On Tuesday, I took my friend Cliff (who was a trooper - considering that he had never watched the television show). I was particularly pleased that he thought very highly of the film.

As one of my top 10 favorite films, I am quite excited to be screening it this Wednesday as we close the door on Twin Peaks, at least for now. I do hope you'll consider making it out for this mid-week event, even if you've never seen an episode of the show.


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