In April of 1990, TV viewers were introduced to a body, dead—wrapped in plastic—that became the hottest mystery to hit TV.
For all of its first year on the air, “Twin Peaks,” created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, kept viewers inthralled with its central mystery of “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” The show ended the year as one of the top rated series on air. But it began to unravel during the second season. A combination of creative differences and network interference caused the ratings to drop significantly. “Twin Peaks” was canceled after two seasons, ending on a cliffhanger that featured the most pure force of good in the show’s universe, Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) possessed by BOB, the evil force at the center of the show’s mythos.
Though ABC was done with “Twin Peaks” David Lynch wasn’t and announced a film “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” a prequel showing the last days of Laura Palmer’s life. Most of the TV cast returned, with a few exceptions—due to either scheduling or complete displeasure with the creative direction the second season. That, along with fear of typecasting, is one reason why MacLachlan was hesitant about making the film, eventually agreeing to, but only for a much reduced role. This led to the creation of another team of FBI agents, filling the role that was originally intended for Dale Cooper.
“Fire Walk With Me” shows Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) during the last week of her life, and it’s a brutal one. Laura Palmer leads a double life. Beloved high school homecoming queen by day, and thrill seeking, drug addict by night. Haunted by a demonic force who has taken possession of someone very close to her, become more and more filled with horror. When “Fire Walk With Me” was released in 1992, fans of the series rushed to the theater to see it. However, even the most die-hard of fans were turned off by the film. Reception was overwhelmingly negative, and the film was actually booed by audiences at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.
Many fans were largely dissatisfied with the film—which gave little answers to burning questions, even the biggest one, it didn’t truly resolve the cliffhanger at the end of season two—fans would have to wait till earlier this year to get that cleared up with the limited series that aired on Showtime during the summer. Though time has given “Fire Walk With Me” some critical reappraisal, it’s still a film that can be polarizing to fans. I like “Twin Peaks” and I have mixed feelings about “Fire Walk With Me.” There’s parts of the film I very much enjoy, and then there are other parts that are just downright hard to watch.
The Criterion Collection brings “Fire Walk With Me” to stand alone blu-ray release in a new edition approved by Director David Lynch. This isn’t the first time “Fire Walk With Me” has been on blu-ray, it was included in the 2014 “Twin Peaks: The Complete Mystery” box set. As far as one can tell, the sound mix and transfer—both very good, both supervised by Lynch—are the same ones here. Some of the bonus material from that set is ported over here as well, the “Between Two Worlds” interview piece with Lynch and the actors who portrayed the Palmer family. But exclusive to this release are new interviews with Sheryl Lee, and longtime Lynch collaborator and composer Angelo Badalamenti.
If you own the box set which includes “Fire Walk With Me,” then it’s unlikely you’ll wanna upgrade to this stand alone edition, unless you’re a completist and want to see the new interviews. What Criterion has done though is the definitive version of “Fire Walk With Me” on home video, all under the supervision of it’s most unique director. It’s a fine job from all involved. See you next week.