Perfect Preludes: Twin Peaks

A lot of the time, the opening credits of TV shows are throwaway montages of moments set to theme songs that serve as trailers for what the shows are about. A sizzle reel of saccharin that can be comforting but ultimately forgettable.

However, they can also be as iconic, memorable and important as the shows they introduce.

When done right, they serve as a prelude that transports us from the comfort of our living rooms into the worlds on our television.

The Overlook’s Perfect Preludes series shines a light on the sequences that are conduits through which we can escape our mundane existence and exist in our favourite fictional worlds.

Diane, we are entering the town of…

Twin Peaks

A varied thrush, a native bird of the Pacific Northwest, sits on a branch of a Douglas Fir tree with a lake obscured behind it.

An F rings out on the synth bass, then a C closely followed by a D. These 3 iconic notes signal the start of our dreamy descent into a place both wonderful and strange.

The bird fades into an early morning image of a working sawmill. Smoke billows from its chimneys and then hangs in the still winter air over this peaceful scene.

Much like the smoke from the Packard Sawmill, the music begins to rise. Slowly lifting us into the atmosphere of the world before us.

We fade once again. We are now inside the sawmill watching industrial logging saws that send sparks flying everywhere.

The soundtrack continues to rise beautifully. Whilst it builds towards something, it is transporting us further and further into the ether of this place.

Just like the music, we are approaching our destination. As the soundtrack arrives at a crescendo, we arrive at the town of Twin Peaks.

Nerd Note: The original population was meant to be 5,120, but CBS were apparently wary of ratings for TV shows in a rural setting. The one was added to take the census up to 5 figures.

The title flashes up on the screen as soon as the music peaks. We are at our destination.

The friendly sign greets us over a portrait of the mountains that give the town its name: “Welcome to Twin Peaks. Population, 51,201”.

The music has lifted us into the air, and then dropped us here at the outer limits of this sleepy mountain town before descending into a dreamy falling chorus.

We cross-fade into an image of a waterfall cascading underneath the Great Northern Hotel.

The music and the waterfall intertwine to give the effect that we are falling further into the world on our screen.

We work our way to the bottom of the falls as Angelo Badalamenti’s score cycles back to the beginning. The falls move in slow motion as the music returns to its opening notes and chords.

The cyclical movement of the score reflects the themes at the core of the TV series and its prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: the cyclical nature of time, love and violence.

The music also signals that we are heading on the final leg of our journey.

We are heading down the river at the bottom of the waterfall into the heart of this sleepy mountain town.

One final dreamlike fade takes us down the river as the music begins to reach a conclusion.

The soundtrack settles into a rhythm of rising and falling as we drift slowly down this waterway. The river is a flowing channel that carries us slowly into the world of Twin Peaks.

We reach the end of our journey and two names flash up on the screen. We are entering their world.

The screen fades to black as our sojourn into Mark Frost and David Lynch’s realm begins.

The Twin Peaks theme coupled with the dreamlike editing of the picturesque images of the Pacific Northwest create an ethereal mood that envelops the viewer and pulls them slowly into the world on their screen.

They welcome us to a place where the birds sing a pretty song, and there’s always music in the air.

RM.

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