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Theatrical release poster
Theatrical release poster

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a 1992 psychological horror film directed by David Lynch and written by Lynch and Robert Engels. It serves as a prequel to the television series Twin Peaks (1990–1991), created by Mark Frost and Lynch, who were also executive producers. The film revolves around the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) and the last seven days in the life of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a popular high school student in the fictional Washington town of Twin Peaks. The title comes from a poem recited by MIKE and Leland Palmer in the television series:

Most of the television cast reprised their roles for the film; notable exceptions include Lara Flynn Boyle and Sherilyn Fenn, due to scheduling conflicts. Boyle's character Donna Hayward was instead recast with Moira Kelly. Kyle MacLachlan, who starred as Special Agent Dale Cooper in the series, was reluctant to return out of fear of getting typecast, which resulted in a smaller presence in the film than originally planned.

Fire Walk with Me initially received negative reviews in the United States but has been met with a more positive reception in subsequent years,[3][4][5] with some critics viewing it as one of Lynch's major works.[6][7] Although it has long been reported that Fire Walk with Me was greeted at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival with booing and jeers from the audience, co-writer Robert Engels denies that this event ever happened.[8] The film was a box office bomb in the United States, although it fared much better in Japan.


FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole sends agents Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley to investigate the murder of drifter and teenage prostitute Teresa Banks in the town of Deer Meadow, Washington. The pair are informed about their new assignment through a woman named Lil. On her lapel is a tiny, artificial blue rose, clearly symbolic of something; when Sam asks, Chet simply replies, "But I can't tell you about that." Desmond and Stanley view Teresa's body at the local morgue. They notice that a ring is missing from her finger and a small piece of paper printed with the letter "T" has been inserted under one of her fingernails. Later, Desmond discovers Teresa's missing ring under a trailer. As he reaches out to it, he is taken by an unseen force.

At FBI headquarters in Philadelphia, Cole and Agent Dale Cooper experience a brief vision of their long-lost colleague Agent Phillip Jeffries. He tells them about a meeting he witnessed involving several mysterious spirits — The Man from Another Place, Killer BOB, Mrs. Chalfont and her grandson. Agent Cooper is sent to Deer Meadow to investigate Desmond's disappearance, but finds no answers.

One year later in Twin Peaks, high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer and her best friend Donna Hayward attend school. Laura is addicted to cocaine and is cheating on her boyfriend, the arrogant and ill-tempered jock Bobby Briggs, with the biker James Hurley. Laura realizes that pages are missing from her secret diary, and gives the rest of the diary to her friend, the agoraphobic recluse Harold Smith.

Mrs. Chalfont and her grandson appear to Laura. They warn her that the "man behind the mask" is in her bedroom. Laura runs home, where she sees BOB. She rushes outside in terror and is startled to see her father, Leland, emerge from the house. That evening Leland's behavior is erratic and abusive—he accusingly asks her about her romances, then tenderly tells her he loves her.

Laura has a dream about entering the Black Lodge. Cooper and the Man from Another Place appear in her dream. The Man from Another Place informs Cooper that "I am the arm", revealing his identity as MIKE's severed arm, and offers Teresa's ring to Laura, but Cooper tells her not to take it. Laura finds Annie Blackburn next to her in bed, covered in blood. Annie tells Laura to write in her diary that "the good Dale is in the Lodge and cannot leave". Laura sees the ring in her hand, but when she wakes up the next morning, it is gone.

The next evening, Laura goes to the Roadhouse to meet her drug connections and have sex with strange men. Unexpectedly, Donna shows up. They all go to the Pink Room. Laura discusses Teresa Banks's murder with Ronette Pulaski, and Ronette says that Teresa was trying to blackmail someone. When she sees a topless Donna making out with a stranger, a distraught Laura takes her home and begs Donna not to become like her. The next morning, Philip Gerard, the one-armed man possessed by the repentant demon MIKE, in an attempt to warn Laura about her father and Bob, pulls up alongside Leland's car and shows Teresa's ring to Laura.

Leland recalls his affair with Teresa. He had asked Teresa to set up a foursome and invite some of her friends, but fled when he discovered Laura was among them. Teresa realized who he was and plotted to blackmail him, and he killed her to prevent his secrets from being revealed. Laura realizes that Mike's ring was the one from her dream, and was also worn by Teresa. The next night, BOB comes through Laura's window and begins to rape her, only to transform into Leland.

Upset, Laura uses more cocaine and has trouble concentrating at school. When Bobby realizes Laura is only using him to score cocaine, he breaks off their relationship. Laura then breaks up with James and goes to a cabin in the woods for an orgy with Ronette, Jacques and Leo. Leland follows her there and, after attacking Jacques and scaring away Leo, takes Laura and Ronette to an abandoned train car.

Laura asks Leland if he is going to kill her, but he transforms into BOB, who tells Laura that he intends to possess her. MIKE has tracked the BOB-possessed Leland to the train, but when Ronette tries to let him in, BOB beats her unconscious. Mike manages to throw in Teresa's ring. Laura puts it on, which prevents BOB from possessing her. Enraged, BOB stabs Laura to death. The BOB-possessed Leland places Laura's body in the lake.

As her corpse drifts away, the BOB-possessed Leland enters the Red Room, where he encounters MIKE and the Man from Another Place who announce they want their share of "garmonbozia."

As Laura's body is found by the Sheriff's department, Agent Cooper comforts her spirit in the Lodge and she sees an angel that had previously disappeared from her bedroom painting.



Lynch wanted to make a Twin Peaks film because, as he claimed in an interview, "I couldn't get myself to leave the world of Twin Peaks. I was in love with the character of Laura Palmer and her contradictions: radiant on the surface but dying inside. I wanted to see her live, move and talk. I was in love with that world and I hadn't finished with it. But making the movie wasn't just to hold onto it; it seemed that there was more stuff that could be done",[9] and that he was "not yet finished with the material".[10]

Actress Sheryl Lee, who played Laura Palmer, echoed these sentiments. "I never got to be Laura alive, just in flashbacks; it allowed me to come full circle with the character."[11] According to Lynch, the movie is about "the loneliness, shame, guilt, confusion and devastation of the victim of incest. It also dealt with the torment of the father – the war within him."[9] Twin Peaks had been canceled only a month when David Lynch announced he would be making a film with French company CIBY-2000 financing what would be the first film of a three-picture deal.[11] But on July 11, 1991, Ken Scherer, CEO of Lynch/Frost productions, announced that the film was not going to be made because series star Kyle MacLachlan did not want to reprise his role of Special Agent Dale Cooper. A month later, MacLachlan had changed his mind and the film was back on.

The film was made without Twin Peaks series regulars Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, and Richard Beymer. At the time, these absences were attributed to scheduling conflicts, but in a 1995 interview, Fenn said that her real reason was that she "was extremely disappointed in the way the second season got off track. As far as Fire Walk with Me, it was something that I chose not to be a part of."[11] In a 2014 interview, however, Fenn said that it was ultimately a scheduling conflict with Of Mice and Men that prevented her from committing to the film.[12] In a September 2007 interview, Beymer claimed that he did not appear in any scenes shot for the film, although his character, Benjamin Horne, appeared in the script.[13] Fenn's character was cut from the script, Moira Kelly was cast as Donna, and Beymer's scenes were not filmed.

MacLachlan's reluctance was also caused by a decline of quality in the second season of the show. He said "David and Mark [Frost] were only around for the first season... I think we all felt a little abandoned. So I was fairly resentful when the film, Fire Walk with Me, came around."[11] Although he agreed to be in the film, MacLachlan wanted a smaller role, forcing Lynch and co-writer Robert Engels to rewrite the screenplay so that Teresa Banks's murder was investigated by Agent Chester Desmond and not by Cooper as originally planned. MacLachlan ended up working only five days on the movie.

Another missing figure from Twin Peaks was co-creator Mark Frost. The relationship between Lynch and Frost had become strained during the second season and after the series ended. Frost went on to direct his own film, Storyville (1992), and was unable to collaborate with Lynch on Fire Walk with Me.[14]

David Bowie had this to say about his part of the film: "They crammed me. I did all my scenes in four or five days, because I was in rehearsals for the 1991 Tin Machine tour. I was there for only a few days."[15]

Principal photography began on September 5, 1991 in Snoqualmie, Washington and lasted until October of the same year, with four weeks dedicated to locations in Washington and another four weeks of interiors and additional locations in Los Angeles, California. When shooting went over schedule in Seattle, Washington, Laura's death in the train car had to be shot in Los Angeles on soundstage during the last day of shooting, October 31.[16]

Several Twin Peaks regulars filmed scenes but were cut from the final version. These actors included Michael Ontkean (Harry S. Truman), Warren Frost (Will Hayward), Mary Jo Deschanel (Eileen Hayward), Everett McGill (Ed Hurley), Wendy Robie (Nadine Hurley), Jack Nance (Pete Martell), Joan Chen (Jocelyn Packard), Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran), Harry Goaz (Andy Brennan), Michael Horse (Tommy "Hawk" Hill), Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Jacoby), Don S. Davis (Garland Briggs), and Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs). Their scenes are among The Missing Pieces, included on the Twin Peaks Blu-ray box set.[17]


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me received a reaction quite the contrary to the television series. The film was entered into the 1992 Cannes Film Festival,[18] where it was met with almost unanimous negative reviews. There is a persistent story that the film was met with boos and hisses from the Cannes audience,[6][19] though co-writer Robert Engels denies that this event ever happened[8] and a contemporary news report only says there were some "hoots and whistles" during a screening for critics and journalists.[20]

According to Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times, the film was met with two extremes, one side being overall positive, while the other side being the exact opposite.[21] Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, who was also in attendance, said in a 1992 interview, "After I saw Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me at Cannes, David Lynch had disappeared so far up his own ass that I have no desire to see another David Lynch movie until I hear something different. And you know, I loved him. I loved him."[22]

Even the CIBY-2000 party at Cannes did not go well. According to Lynch, Francis Bouygues (then head of CIBY) was not well liked in France and this only added to the film's demise at the festival.[23] After the Cannes showing, Lynch said "It was a little bit of a sadness, [...] You'd like to have everybody there, but their characters didn't have a bearing on the life of her [Laura Palmer]".[24]

U.S. distributor New Line Cinema released the film in America on August 28, 1992. It grossed a total of US$1.8 million in 691 theaters in its opening weekend and went on to gross a total of $4.2 million in North America.[2]

Despite its mixed critical and poor commercial response, Fire Walk with Me gained attention at awards time. The film was nominated for five Saturn Awards and two Independent Spirit Awards, including Sheryl Lee being nominated for Best Actress. The only awards won by the film were for Angelo Badalamenti's musical score, which won a Spirit Award, a Saturn Award and a Brit Award.[25]

Most negative reviews came from American film critics. Among the negative reviews, Janet Maslin from The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Lynch's taste for brain-dead grotesque has lost its novelty".[11] Fellow Times film critic Vincent Canby concurred, "It's not the worst movie ever made; it just seems to be".[26] In his review for Variety magazine, Todd McCarthy said, "Laura Palmer, after all the talk, is not a very interesting or compelling character and long before the climax has become a tiresome teenager".[27] USA Today gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it, "a morbidly joyless affair".[28] Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "though the movie ups the TV ante on nudity, language and violence, Lynch's control falters. But if inspiration is lacking, talent is not. Count Lynch down but never out".[29] In her review for The Washington Post, Rita Kempley described the film as a "perversely moving, profoundly self-indulgent prequel".[30]

An exception among American reviews at the time of the film's release (and later called "one of the bravest pieces of film criticism"[31]) was by novelist Steve Erickson, who defended the film in the L.A. Weekly and challenged its negative reception.

Most positive reviews came from British film critics, and later retrospective analysis. Mark Kermode noted that many have come to consider the film a "masterpiece".[4] Among the positive reviews, Kim Newman from the British magazine Sight & Sound stated: "The film's many moments of horror [...] demonstrate just how tidy, conventional and domesticated the generic horror movie of the 1980s and 1990s has become".[32] Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine gave the film a four out of four stars,[33] and the magazine later listed it in their '100 Essential Films' list.[34] Appearing on the podcast The Cinephiliacs, filmmaker James Gray called it "an incredible film," "a masterpiece," and "a classic example of how the critics get it wrong." Further speaking of Fire Walk with Me, he said, "I've never seen a movie that's been made in the last 30 years... haven't seen a movie in the last thirty years, in America, which so asks us to understand and be in the shoes of a person suffering so profoundly. It's a thing of beauty."[35]

However, not all British film critics were praising. Barry Norman declared it "a mess", and "baffling", whilst praising Lynch as "a very original filmmaker, and since there are so few of those about, we ought perhaps to give him the benefit of the doubt, and indulge him a little."[36]

In the book Lynch on Lynch, Chris Rodley described the film as "brilliant but excoriating", writing that "by the time Lynch unveiled Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992, critical reaction had become hostile, and only now is the movie enjoying a degree of cautious but sympathetic critical re-evaluation. It is, undoubtedly, one of Lynch's cruellest, bleakest neighbourhood visions, and even managed to displease die-hard fans of the series. [...] In exposing the very heart of the TV series, Lynch was forced to accept that he was unlikely to return to the town of Twin Peaks again."[37]

The film holds a 64% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 74 reviews (47 positive) with an average rating of 6.4/10. The website wrote of the critics' consensus: "For better or worse, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is every bit as strange and twisted as you'd expect from David Lynch".[3] Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream film critics, reported that there were "generally unfavorable reviews", with an average score of 28 based on 16 reviews.[38]

Home media

Lynch originally shot more than five hours of footage that was subsequently cut down to two hours and fourteen minutes. The footage nearly appeared on New Line Cinema's Special Edition DVD in February 2002, but was nixed over budgetary and running-time concerns.[39] The film was released on DVD in several other regions in the early 2000s as well, including the United Kingdom (Region 2) in 2001[40] and Australia (Region 4) in 2005.[41]

Most of the deleted scenes feature additional characters from the television series who ultimately did not appear in the finished film.[42] Lynch has said that "I had a limit on the running time of the picture. We shot many scenes that—for a regular feature—were too tangential to keep the main story progressing properly. We thought it might be good sometime to do a longer version with these other things in, because a lot of the characters that are missing in the finished movie had been filmed. They're part of the picture, they're just not necessary for the main story."[37] According to Lynch, had the film included these scenes, it "wouldn't have been quite so dark. To me it obeyed the laws of Twin Peaks. But a little bit of the goofiness had to be removed."[37]

In 2007, reported that MK2 was in final negotiations with Lynch about a new two-disc special edition that would include seventeen deleted scenes hand-picked by the director himself. It had been tentatively scheduled for release on October 17, 2007, but MK2 subsequently opted instead to re-release a bare-bones edition of Fire Walk with Me, citing a new version including the deleted scenes has been put on hold indefinitely. In November 2008, Lynch said the following regarding the deleted scenes:

Paramount Pictures, which has DVD distribution rights to the TV series, acquired the rights in Germany and most of the world excluding the US, UK, France and Canada. Paramount released their DVD in 2007. The DVD was a port straight from the MK2 French edition.

Fire Walk with Me was released on Blu-ray in France on November 3, 2010 by MK2.[44]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia by Madman Entertainment on February 8, 2012, marking the 20th anniversary of the film's theatrical release.[45]

The film was also released on Blu-ray on June 4, 2012 in the UK by Universal UK Home Video, although it has been reported that the release suffers from defects in the audio track.[46] The film has been released on Blu-ray in North America on July 29, 2014, as part of the Twin Peaks entire mystery Blu-ray collection, and contains more than 90 minutes of deleted and extended scenes from the film.[47]

The film premiered on Showtime on March 1, 2017, in honor of the series continuation.[48]

This film was released as part of the Criterion Collection (whose parent company, Janus Films, currently owns the North American rights), on both DVD and Blu-Ray Disc, on 17 October 2017.[49]

According to cinematographer Ron Garcia, the film was popular in Japan, in particular with women, as Martha Nochimson wrote in her book on Lynch's work, "he surmises that the enthusiasm of the Japanese women comes from a gratification of seeing in Laura some acknowledgment of their suffering in a repressive society."[50] Released under the title Twin Peaks: The Last Seven Days of Laura Palmer, it was greeted with long lines of moviegoers at theaters.[51]

In retrospect, Lynch has said, "I feel bad that Fire Walk with Me did no business and that a lot of people hate the film. But I really like the film. But it had a lot of baggage with it. It's as free and as experimental as it could be within the dictates it had to follow."[23]

Mary Sweeney, the film's editor, said, "They so badly wanted it to be like the TV show, and it wasn't. It was a David Lynch feature. And people were very angry about it. They felt betrayed."[11] Sheryl Lee is very proud of the film, saying, "I have had many people, victims of incest, approach me since the film was released, so glad that it had been made because it helped them to release a lot."[11]

After Fire Walk with Me was released, Lynch reportedly planned two more films that would have continued and then concluded the series' narrative. But in a 2001 interview, he said that the Twin Peaks franchise is "dead as a doornail."[52] In 2014, however, it was announced that the series would continue with Lynch involved.[53] Lynch said that Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is very important to understanding what's coming.[54] In 2017, the third season of the TV series was released. It depicts events which happen 25 years after the second season, and uses many elements introduced in Fire Walk with Me.


The soundtrack to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was released on Warner Bros. Records on August 11, 1992.[55] It includes music by Angelo Badalamenti, who had composed and conducted the music on the television series and its original soundtrack.[56]

In addition to his instrumental compositions, Fire Walk with Me's soundtrack features vocal accompaniment to Badalamenti's songs by jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott and dream pop singer Julee Cruise. Badalamenti performs vocals on "A Real Indication" and "The Black Dog Runs at Night", two songs by the Thought Gang, a musical project between Badalamenti and David Lynch. Lynch wrote the lyrics for several of the soundtrack's songs, including "Sycamore Trees", "Questions in a World of Blue", "A Real Indication" and "The Black Dog Runs at Night", and was the soundtrack's producer alongside Badalamenti.[57]

Upon its release, Fire Walk with Me's soundtrack charted in the United States, peaking at number 173 on the Billboard 200.[58] It was nominated for, and later received, the Best Music at the 1992 Saturn Awards[59] and Best Original Score at the Independent Spirit Awards.[60] In March 2011, British music publication NME placed Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me's soundtrack at number 1 on their list of the 50 Best Film soundtracks Ever, describing it as "combining plangent beauty with a kind of clanking evil jazz, this is one of those endlessly evocative soundtracks that takes up residence in your subconscious and never leaves."[61]

Awards and nominations

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