The Twin Peaks Rewatch

Nothing long this time. Just a brief thought about rewatching Twin Peaks (finally).

(Before I begin, a grateful note that the aspect ratio of the original television presentation was preserved on the BluRays. I can’t overstate how important that is. Zooming in to make it fit 16:9 is no better than the old pan-and-scan videos of yesteryear.)

Dale Cooper
In the new series, Cooper’s cup will actually be filled with the souls of the damned.

Now that I’m deep into the series, watching it with adult eyes, there is so much more I see in this show. The symbolism and style convey all of the sordid meaning of the worst scenes, without resorting to the cheap vividness so common in today’s television.

I’m not an old man yelling at a cloud about that. I’ve often wondered if limitations make people better artists, because it forces them to think more carefully about everything from shot composition to intent. Film is a visual language and, like any language, you should be able to speak it well.

To give an example, one of the first times the camera takes you inside One Eyed Jack’s, the whorehouse just north of the town of Twin Peaks, you meet “the new girl.” Not once do they say people are having sex, you do not see characters having sex, but “the new girl” walks out from a doorway draped in pink.

I don’t know how I missed this so many years ago, but there’s a piece of anatomy those drapes “resemble” that communicates why people are walking into and out of it in that environment. They don’t linger, it’s just there. They have it right there so long as you have the eyes to see. It’s an adult moment without being a vulgar one.

But It’s Not All Drapes and Roses

Having seen again Ronette’s coma dream conjuring Laura’s death, though, is still one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen on a television. You could argue it’s graphic, in the sense that you see blood, but it’s the editing, and the lighting and the sound coming together to give you nightmares.

And, once you know the turn that’s coming, there’s a lot more telegraphed in it than you realize on first viewing.

I am concerned, slightly, by the revival of the show as I rewatch the original run. Freed from the shackles of old network standards, David Lynch made Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which is an underrated and excessively imagined prequel.

My greatest remaining criticism of the film is that, like South Park after him, Lynch got mired in the desire to be too graphic. Restraint produced some of the finest hours of television ever broadcast because the creative team had to get…well, creative. While I like FWWM a lot more than I did before, and appreciate it as a singular work instead of trying to relate it only to the show, the fact remains that nothing about it will haunt the way the show managed.

Will the new series know when to throw the right punches, or will it go for a haymaker every time?

Time will tell.


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