The entire time I was watching and reviewing the two seasons of television’s hit cult series, “Twin Peaks” for Biff Bam Pop!, I was anxiously marking the time until I could view Lynch’s 1992 film Fire Walk with Me, the prequel to the television series. Having already been hooked on the series because of Andy Burns‘ book, Wrapped in Plastic: Twin Peaks, I accidently pulled up a link that featured the deleted scenes from the film. It was an accident that helped me understand the film much better because it confirmed what I’ve always believed “Twin Peaks” was really about: the battle between good and evil. In this film, we have become silent witnesses to what happened to Laura on the last week of her life. Laura was a blonde, blue-eyed angel with a dark secret. We get a chance to walk in Laura’s shoes in this film. It is a terrifying walk.
Because Kyle MacLachlan originally turned down the chance to play Agent Cooper in the film, Lynch used two other actors, Chris Isaak as Agent Chester Desmond and Kiefer Sutherland as Agent Sam Stanley to investigate the murder of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley).
When Desmond meets Chief Gordon and Stanley at the airport, they get some clues from Gordon’s crazy niece who is wearing a red dress and dancing. Desmond knows what all the clues signify, but refuses to explain the blue rose pinned to Lil’s dress to Sam. It’s stupid stuff like this that writer/director David Lynch uses to distract us from what is really going on. Teresa Banks is an important part of the mystery of Laura’s death.
Desmond and Stanley examine the body of Teresa Banks. This girl was brutally murdered, wrapped in plastic and placed in the river. Sound familiar? This is how Laura will die. Is it the same killer? Desmond and Stanley notice that Teresa’s ring is missing and a slip of paper with the letter “T” has been placed under her fingernail. Desmond is determined to locate the ring he saw Teresa wearing in a photo, but in finding it, he disappears.
We learn that Cooper’s dreams of the Black Lodge began way before he arrived in Twin Peaks. Before seeing Laura’s body in that morgue, Cooper had already dreamed of the Man from another place and BOB. He already knew about the ring from his dream. From the very beginning, Cooper’s destiny was tied to Laura’s. Why Cooper and Laura? What was the connection?
Agent Desmond wasn’t the only agent to disappear. Apparently, another agent, Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) was also missing. Was Jeffries a prisoner of the Black Lodge like in Cooper’s dream? Jeffries disappears before Gordon, Cooper and Albert can make sense of his babbling. When Cooper investigates the trailer park where Desmond vanished, he finds a message on Desmond’s abandoned car, “Let’s Rock.”
I know that the film wasn’t received well when it premiered and, I know that David Lynch had full control of the scenes and that Mark Frost wasn’t as involved. It shows. I’ll explain my comment during the conclusion. Right now, the only thing I want to concentrate on is what Lynch got right. In this film, Lynch revealed a horrid secret by pulling the scab back and showing the pus that oozed beneath.
Laura may have been a knockout beauty, homecoming queen and the most popular girl in her high school, but she was still a child. A child who was mentally, physically and emotionally damaged by the very person whose job it was to protect her. Did you ever wonder why Laura was so promiscuous or why she did drugs? We were given many hints about her wild ways in the two seasons of the series, but did you really understand why?
Laura had been systematically raped by her father, Leland, ever since she was twelve year old. Leland may have been the dancing fool in seasons one and two, but there was nothing dashing about a man who would drug his wife in order to rape his daughter without interference. This was horrible enough without her also having to deal with the monster, BOB, who had possessed Leland when he was a child.
Young girls that have been sexually abused over long periods of time by a trusted family member often try to protect their fragile sanity from the abuse they’re been enduring in many ways: drugs, alcohol, or sleeping with as many men as they can to prove that they have some worth as a person. The damage is permanent unless the abused is able to get the proper help, but in Laura’s case, she was going to that loser Dr. Jacoby, who in my mind was another predator who fed on a young girl’s fear.
The only true friend that Laura had, besides Harold Smith who suffered from his own demons, was Donna Hayward. In the film, Donna is played by actress Moira Kelly. I really enjoyed this actress’s portrayal of Donna much better than I did with the series Donna which was played by Lara Flynn Boyle. Moira Kelly was more convincing as the loyal friend to Laura. That is my opinion and I am sticking with it.
Laura had other female friends who were part of her dark secret life. We get to meet Teresa Banks and Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine), the same actress from the series. Teresa was one of Leland’s secrete rendezvous, but Leland gets the shock of his life when he suggests a threesome and learns that Laura is part of the deal. He runs off, but Teresa gets the idea to blackmail him, which as we all know, brings about her death at the hands of Leland.
The film shows Laura’s relationship to her boyfriends; Bobby and James, but neither really understands her. Donna is the only one who stands by Laura even when it’s detrimental to her well being. Donna was willing to follow Laura into the bowels of hell, better known as the Roadhouse, but Laura saves her friend when she sees Donna naked and being mauled by one of the trucker friends of Jacques Renault.
There was a picture in Donna’s room that featured an angel watching over two very young children. This picture, that angel was her lifeline to keeping her sanity. Laura’s life was a nightmare that she was unable to escape; her father and BOB were one and the same. The dinner scene, where Leland goes berserk when he sees the necklace around his daughter’s neck, is very telling of how evil Leland is on his own. You can’t blame BOB for everything this man did. Leland knows that Laura is having sex with other men. He wants her for himself.
Sarah, thinking that she is losing her mind from all the lapse memories due to her being drugged, tries to protect her daughter. She failed miserably. Did she suspect what was going on? If she did, why didn’t she take her daughter away? I would have shot the bastard if I even suspected he was abusing my child. Sarah did nothing and this made her an accomplice.
Many of the series stars were missing from the film. That was okay because the film was all about Laura, but if you want to see the deleted scenes, you can find them on YouTube. The one cast member that I was happy to see again was the Log Lady. I watched the film a few days after Catherine E. Coulson passed away on September 28, 2015. The Log Lady in the film tried to protect Laura.
I would have enjoyed the film more so if it wasn’t filled with all the psychedelic crazy scenes that took away from the real story. We didn’t need the nonsensical visits to the Black Lodge to be shocked. What Leland was doing to his daughter was shocking enough. Leland was a killer, a predator who thought nothing of killing Teresa or Laura. I think BOB was able to possess Leland because Leland was already a sociopath as a child. I wonder how the film would have been received if Mark Frost had worked side by side with Lynch on each and every scene. I think it may have done better with the fans if this happened.
Cooper and Laura
In one of Laura’s visions, Annie appears on her bed to tell her that the good Cooper is trapped inside the Black Lodge. We know from the final episode of the series that Cooper willingly entered the Black Lodge to save Annie, but Cooper and Laura were much more connected. They shared the same visions of the ring, BOB, the Black Lodge.
Cooper was the knight in that chess game with Windom Earle. Laura was the queen that Cooper needed to protect from BOB. The story of “Twin Peaks,” the series and the film, Fire Walk with Me, was about one thing only; the battle between good and evil. An angel saved Ronette when she prayed for her life to be spared. An angel finally arrived at the Black Lodge to save Laura’s soul. Will the good Cooper ever escape the Black Lodge? I’d like to think he does and, maybe he will when the series returns on Showtime. What do you think?