I know a lot of people hate this movie, but there seems to be a substantial number of people who love it. For what reason?
It wasn’t true to the style of the show yet still required watching the series first. So who’s the intended audience? And for a Lynch film, it had very empty surrealism with weirdness just to be weird.
And don’t forget, “Donna”
I don’t hate it, but how can people call this one of Lynch’s best?
I agree Jim, the film did have empty surrealism and frankly stupid surrealism. One of Lynchs worst. Give me Eraserhead or Blue Velvet anyday.
It seems to me that it was more like Lynch’s nail in the coffin of the series that earned him notoriety. This is apparent in the opening scene of the blank TV set that gets the axe! While it was absolutely more linear than is to be expected of a David Lynch film, it also conformed to the TWIN PEAKS audience that was mainly a television audience, meaning they didn’t venture out to see ERASERHEAD immediately… they were content with the TWIN PEAKS universe. I enjoyed the film and found it to be a fitting end and was pleased they could take it a bit further in theatrical release than what could be shown on national television… But to answer your question, I believe the intended audience is that group that took TWIN PEAKS and dove head first into the world of Laura Palmer… They wrote books, made fanzines and speculated for almost two seasons who the killed Laura Palmer.
As for the DONNA reference, I assume you mean the different actress?
Hmm I bought this on DVD ages ago and it’s still in the wrapping. A friend subsequently told me that the best thing about it is the title. Still not feeling incentivised to check it out!
I have been told to avoid this at all costs, which makes me want to see it just to find out how terrible it apparently is.
I’ll bite—Fire Walk is terrific. I’ve related my narrative in a thread awhile back but let me give the broad strokes. Fire Walk (FWwM) was the only Lynch film I hadn’t seen despite being a huge fan of everything up until then—tho’ I, like countless others—felt betrayed by Twin Peaks’s 2nd season implosion. Anyway, FWwM came out and received the worst reviews I think I’ve ever seen for a serious director. And these weren’t just bad—the reviews were vitriolic, savage. I put police tape around the movie and walked away. Lynch seemed to lose his way for awhile so that only cemented things in my mind. Then he came back, found his voice and started making some of his best work ever, at least in my opinion. Anyway, a year ago last summer I started obsessing over Lynch all over again. I watched everything I could get my hands on. It came down to FWwM, the only thing I had never seen. “Now or never, I thought,” and popped it in the dvd player. The result: I think it is a really terrific movie and wish I hadn’t lost 15 years of avoiding it.
Partly what’s fascinating is DL’s deconstructing Twin Peaks—or rather completely changing the tone. I think it is his most brutal film by far and it is relentlessly humorless. Clearly, some of the flack FWwM got was because the funny stuff of the series was gone—no more talk about “damn fine pie.” These weren’t colorful characters anymore, there was something rotten in Lumberton. In fact, the photography is a bit ugly. All this this because in many ways it is a meditation on abuse and the horrors of suburbia. Blue Velvet was a movie about how horrors happen in suburbia. In fact, one could read it as an intense de-romanticizing of Laura in such a way that it also shows what preyed upon her, literally. So instead of the romantic object of a mystery, she is caught up in real domestic horrors. It is also less linear than the work that got Lynch famous in the more mainstream circles (though of course his work never sat well that way). I suspect that the really negative critical response continues to frame things around the movie so it is hard to come to it with an unjaundiced eye.
Lynch is in my list of 4 favorite directors. Is FWwM one of his best? I don’t know but I like it much more than Lost Highway (Jim, what you say of FWwM is what I say of Lost Highway). It is the Lynch movie that most truly unsettles me (I have a really high tolerance for the disturbing). It is his saddest movie, I think. For all these reasons, it more than holds its own. Also, as most people know, there are hours of footage that were cut out. For years there have been negotiations to bring out a director’s cut. When that comes out there will likely be a major re-assessment.
Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.
ok movie in my opinion. laura’s acting bothers me and i’m glad she wasn’t alive (much) in the show. there are a couple scenes that are great like Leland’s freak out in the car. don’t really find this film as disturbing as most people do though.
I actually really like ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’, though I agree it’s not one of Lynch’s best. I’ve always thought there are three levels of David Lynch films.
In the first, he tempers his surrealist predilections to tell a more mainstream, conventional story: ‘The Elephant Man’, ‘The Straight Story’.
In the second, he uses a surrealist cinematic style to tell a story that still has a coherent plot: ‘Blue Velvet’, ‘Wild at Heart’, and ‘Twin Peaks’ the series (which always seemed to me like David Lynch-lite).
And in the third, he goes for full-blown surrealism: ‘Eraserhead’, ‘Lost Highway’, ‘Mullholland Drive’, ‘Inland Empire’.
I think a big part of the backlash over ‘Fire Walk With Me’ was that people were expecting a film like the second category, but got the third – alienating fans of the series who wanted “quirky” and got full-born insanity.
It’s definitely a muddled effort (I feel the same way about ‘Inland Empire’), but there are a lot of elements I really love in ‘Fire Walk With Me’: the absurdity of Chris Isaak’s FBI investigation in the opening scenes, Laura and her father’s near traffic accident, Laura’s dreams of the Man from Another Place. As a true David Lynch fan, I think there’s still a lot to appreciate in it.
Well, it is a very weird film, in that when it works it REALLY REALLY WORKS, and when it doesn’t it well, you know, doesn’t. Lynch was an easy target at the time (the series had really fallen apart and become a shadow of what it had been) and the critics went ballistic all over it. I remember thinking that if FIRE WALK WITH ME hadn’t had Lynch’s name on it and had come from Poland or Japan that the same critics would be falling all over themselves to praise it.
I liked the opening shot, which really should have told audiences and reviewers what Lynch was up to: a TV screen being destroyed by an axe. If that doesn’t tell you pretty clearly not to expect the TV show, I don’t know what does.
The good stuff: the big freak out at the intersection, the sequence at FBI headquarters with Bowie, the glorious scene at the Pink Room with subtitles, the drug deal that goes wrong, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris Isaak’s scenes together, and the big scene where Laura finally meets her fate.
TPFWWM is uneven. I agree with Roscoe. It has amazing moments (i.e. the painting in Laura’s room, Bob in Laura’s room, the inital Bowie sequence, Chris Isaac doing an autopsy, Laura’s fate), and then empty ones (i.e. the dance at the Pink Room [sorry Roscoe], though the music is good and scored by Lynch). Even though it is uneven, TPFWWM is quite frightening. It is one of the scariest movies I’ve seen and the scariest Lynch has done thus far in my opinion. I rank it as one of the most unnerving films I’ve ever seen, along with:
Silence of the Lambs
TPFWW is uneven, but great in portions, and scary as hell.
The film was pure garbage – the only film to get booed at Cannes that year. David Lynch is hit or miss, and most of his stuff just misses the mark. Blue Velvet, Eraserhead and The Elephant Man are his masterpieces. Wild at Heart and the completely linear Straight Story are also exceptional films. I can do without all his other films. After seeing his earlier films, watching his later films just feels like bad versions of his earlier works, with lamer plots, if you even want to call them that. He’s definitely one of the most overrated directors today, much like Andy Warhol was in the 60s and 70s. Lynch is just a weirdo, and some find that trendy and cool. I think it’s just tired.
I actually love Lost Highway hehe. I think you’re right about the lack of humor.
@Girl Bites Pen
I would agree with your friend that the title is one of the best things of the movie. I liked the ending (as a collection of scenes, not as a well functioning ending) due to the fact it’s so disturbing and violent, something you’d never expect from the series, but it’s actually been underneath the narrative all along.
Lester Burnam: “He’s definitely one of the most overrated directors today, much like Andy Warhol was in the 60s and 70s. Lynch is just a weirdo, and some find that trendy and cool. I think it’s just tired.”
I couldn’t agree more.
It’s not his best movie that’s for sure but I do like it better than Wild at Heart. Dune is still his worst effort.
MULHOLLAND DRIVE and INLAND EMPIRE are in a tie for Lynch’s worst, I’d say.
“After seeing his earlier films, watching his later films just feels like bad versions of his earlier works, with lamer plots, if you even want to call them that”
That’s just it, maybe I, and he, don’t want to call them that. Lynch has danced around the border of non-narrative filmmaking for a while now and with FWWM, MD, and IE he finally began to cross it. It is a shame that because of his more narrative based films he is judged as having “forgot” how to create a coherent plot rather than being judged on purposely abandoning plot to explore his cherished themes. All of his films, Inland Empire included, are carefully conceived and executed. You may dismiss them as too arty for your tastes, but they are not sloppy.
Edit – double post
It’s like watching the worst episode of Twin Peaks.
I remember not think much about the film after the first viewing but after re watching the first season not to long ago, i was surprised at how much watching the film helps to understand the series and make watching the series a lot more fun. Obviously its not as good as Lynch’s other masterpieces, but aside from a few things (mainly the detective stuff in the beginning that felt a bit too long and Laura Flynn Boyle not reprising her role as Donna), the film was good. Its an essential viewing for fans of the show and gives you more insight on things that were left unclear. And i also want to say its unfair to call Lynch a “weirdo” and say his fans like his films because they think hes “trendy and cool.” I’ve watched almost all of films because i truly believe hes a talented film maker and one of America’s true artists. I like the fact that he gives his audience something visually compelling and lets them figure out what it means for themselves. His films remind me of those done by great avant-garde directors like Maya Deren, Jean Cocteau, or Stan Brakhage who used the film medium, not just to tell stories, but to try create an experience that transended anything convential cinema could achieve. For me, films like Blue Velvet, Muholland Dr, and Eraserhead achieve that.
Lately I’ve been thinking this is the best movie of the 1990s.
I love the film, personally. Allen Grey made some good points; going off of that (in relation to the series), I think it’s certainly an important and appropriate counterpoint to the show. Twin Peaks is about the dark and the light, and Fire Walk With Me is the dark to the series’ light.
Apart from the series, it’s a wonderful work in subjectivity. Lynch’s combination of nightmarish logic and sensory assaults tells a horrifying story and makes it truly horrifying.
As a side note, I think one of the most disturbing scenes (SPOILER!!!) is when Billy shoots the guy in the woods and Laura just keeps laughing, saying “You killed Mike.” Ugh. Shivers a-plenty.-———————
Daniel, do you feel it’s the best movie of 90s regardless of whether someone has seen the series or not? That is to say, do you feel the film retains its potency if the audience has never seen the show?
I imagine you do, but I was just curious.
His best movie of the 1990s? What about Lost Highway or even The Straight Story?
This is a masterpiece, one of several that David Lynch has made, and the truest and most powerful film on the subject of child abuse that I’ve ever come across.
If you think it’s all just weirdness and surrealism then you just haven’t seen what Lynch is up to. Empty weirdness & surrealism are the hallmarks of his imitators, who forget to imitate the heart of his films, the humanity, compassion and psychological depth.
Fire Walk With Me is one of the most serious of horror movies, a REAL horror movie about a REAL LIFE monster. An abusive father raping his daughter is so appalling an idea that it has to be suppressed, and translated into abstraction and metaphor, and its narrative obscured. This is a psychologically accurate depiction both of perpetrators and victims of child abuse. This concept, made more explicit in the movie, provided the underlying tension throughout the TV series (although the TV network’s insistence that the identity of Laura’s killer be revealed at the end of the first season caused that tension to disippate somewhat).
I think he is the cleverest filmmaker around. And the craftsmanship here is impeccable, particularly in the opening half hour or so, although there are many outstanding sequences later on as well. The way he constructs a scene, the sense of rhythm, the sound design, the production design etc etc.
He is also as good a script writer as Harold Pinter in my opinion, and I don’t say that lightly.
There is little that can be said in defence of work like this against people who are simply insensitive to its richness. The thing is, he doesn’t just give it to you on a plate. Like all the best stuff, you have to come half way towards it and actively engage with it – imaginatively and intellectually – for it to become fully resonant, and for the emotional depth to become apparent. Very few other filmmakers have given me such mind-stretching experiences as this.
For some of us who do appreciate it, this film has been a continual inspiration and reference point for our own work over the years.
Mike Spence is right – Lynch’s recent films are some of the least ‘sloppy’ I can think of. However, none of his films can be called ‘non-narrative’. His work often seems bewildering on a first viewing, but you just have to pick up the rules of the game as you go along. He uses plenty of metaphors that require interpretation, and doesn’t signpost a ‘flashback’ or a ‘dream sequence’ in a conventional way, but there is always a very strong narrative which does become crystal clear after you learn how to read it. He has never ‘abandoned plot’ as Mike seems to suggest. The simple human story at the core of each of his films is what powers them.
If you don’t enjoy these films on the most basic level and therefore aren’t inclined to revisit and engage with them, then you’ll just have to take my word for it that they are constructed with ingenious care and without exception contain perfectly coherent narratives, constructed according to a profound logic. If they aren’t your cup of tea, then that’s fine, but don’t just dismiss them as indulgent weirdness just because you haven’t the inclination to figure them out.
Lastly, I’d like to say that this film should be seen big and loud. A television won’t do it. Anyone who has watched this film small and quiet should not be allowed to post comments here!
Haha, Sam- you’re right about watching this big and loud. In fact, all of Lynch’s films are best when watched big and loud.
Sam, I meant that he wasn’t allowing himself to be confined to what casual viewers see as acceptable coherency when it comes to plot, which for those viewers means the narrative thread is lost. You’re right that there is a much more interesting thread to grab onto, but many will miss it because they give up within the first five minutes when something happens they don’t understand. One must either sit in rapt attention or re-watch these films many times to appreciate them.
I remember seeing Mullholland Dr. with some idiot and them complaining about how bad it was within the first 15 minutes. This is when most people shut their brains off with Lynch, or Antonioni and others, films. Thank goodness he doesn’t seem to care. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Daniel Kasman: I completely agree, it’s one of the most visionary and disturbing films ever made. And the opening half hour with Isaak and Sutherland is spellbinding.
It’s very inconsistent. As previously mentioned, when it works it really works well, but most of the time it doesn’t. It’s worth seeing if you liked the TV series as it fills in some gaps (kind of), but the acting is very hit and miss (there is a fine line between surrealistic acting and BAD acting). It’s certainly not one of Lynch’s best.
And I agree, the first part with Isaak and Sutherland is the best part of the film … fantastic.
Deckard: I’d be interested to know which performances you considered misses and which hits…
There are some really strong hits in my opinion. Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie are both amazing as Laura’s parents.
And I reckon this is one of the great HARRY DEAN STANTON’s finest acting jobs. Watch him after the strange woman appears at the door of the trailer he and Chris Isaak are standing in. Beautiful work, so subtle and immeasurably tender, hinting at all sorts of who knows what in his character’s past. Haunts me!
After having re-watched Fire Walk With Me (twice), I’ve come to appreciate it more. It may just be nostalgia for the TV show, but I actually like it now. The sound design is really good too (watch it loud, it makes the train car scene even more disturbing). Only a few scenes really stand out for me: The Pink Room, the train car scene, and when Laura falls off the motorcycle and runs into the woods. But they really stand out.
@D-Kaz: did you recently rewatch the picture? How come we never got around to that?