Fire Walk With Me: Through the Darkness of Future Past

The Roadhouse. Glastonberry Grove. Ghostwood National Forest. All these places were where the dual worlds of the Black and White Lodges cemented themselves into the reality of the small Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks. But it is in the sequel to the series where these dual worlds would further themselves and, in turn, the Lynchian universe.

In a town like Twin Peaks, noone is innocent. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

One Chants Out Between Two Worlds, Fire Walk With Me.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, the much anticipated sequel, chronicled the last seven days of Laura Palmer’s life, giving fans of the show an explicit look into the central mystery of the television show. In true Lynch fashion though, the film raised more questions than it gave answers. The first thirty minutes of the film deals with new character Agent Chester Desmond’s investigation into the death of Teresa Banks (BOB’s first victim), and his subsequent disappearance.

Then we are introduced to another strange new character, the long lost Agent Jeffries (David Bowie), and his uncanny reappearance in the FBI offices of pre-Twin Peaks Agent Cooper and his colleagues Gordon Cole and Albert Rosenfield, further foregrounds the power of Lynch’s other-worlds over the reality of its inhabitants. This scene is central to the film, and the most striking example of the control these binary worlds over the realities of the Twin Peaks universe. The editing, doubling and dreamlike aesthetics of the scene all mirror the tropes surrounding the Black and White lodges in the series, and further their ascension and control over the real world of Twin Peaks, as well as extending the Lynchian universe to other parts of America.

“We live inside a dream!”- Agent Jeffries, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

The scene begins with Cooper telling Gordon that he was worried about the date because of a dream he had told him about. Cooper then leaves to the security room and watches the security monitors of where he has just been standing in the hallway. He does this three times and on the third time his image stays on the monitor after he has left the hallway and entered the room. As he does this, Agent Jeffries enters the hallway from the elevator and walks past the image of Cooper on the screen, and into Gordon’s office. Cooper follows worried, having an uncanny realisation that his dream is being replayed in real life. Gordon relays the fact that Jeffries has been missing for a long while, and then Jeffries begins to cryptically recount where he has been. He proclaims that he had been living “inside a dream” saying that he had “been to one of their meetings”. As he says this, flashes of smoke, red curtains, television static and power lines fade into the screen, as well as images of a meeting between the other-worldly characters we have become familiar with, such as The Man-from Another Place and BOB. Agent Jeffries then disappears into thin air just as quickly as he arrived, and Albert calls the front desk who tell him that Agent Jeffries was never really there. The scene ends with Cooper and Gordon back in the security room, looking at the image of Cooper in the hallway with Jeffries, realising that Jeffries had actually been there. This scene expands the symbiotic relationship between the two worlds of dreams and reality, both through its unconventional editing, uncanny imagery and its manipulation of narrative.

The identification of dreams is central to the scene, Cooper relays to Gordon that he has dreamed about this date, foreshadowing the appearance of Jeffries. Also, the declaration of Jeffries himself, who states that “It was a dream, we live inside a dream”, cements the arrival of this dream world into the reality of the FBI offices. The editing is key to how this dream worlds asserts itself upon the scene, the image of the red curtains that fades in between the images of Jeffries and the spirits of the Black lodge, calls back to the entrances into the lodges from the TV series (Glastonberry Grove and the Roadhouse).

Furthermore, the red curtains and the images of the meeting of the residents of the Black lodge are superimposed over the images and audio of Jeffrey’s explanation of his
disappearance. Images of the two scenes are interspersed with each other via transitioning jump-cuts of static electricity. The images exist symbiotically with each other, both existing at the same time as the other. This editing displays Lynch’s other world and its spirits transposing themselves into his cinematic reality. Both narratives co-exist as one, just as both worlds do. Moreover, the scene displays the manipulation of both time and space of the “real-world” of the FBI offices, reinforcing the fact that these other-worlds can manipulate the worlds that they exist within.

fwwm bowie
The long lost Phillip Jeffries – Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Cooper is doubled (foreshadowing his doppelganger that he will meet in the finale of the TV series) existing in the hallway whilst he watches himself on the screen. This double is caused by the appearance of Jeffries, who has lived in the dream world, and it is this security footage of the double that asserts the fact that Jeffries was actually in the reality of the FBI offices at the end of the scene. Jeffries is another emblem of the dream world, like Leland and Cooper when they were possessed by BOB, and his appearance has disrupted the conventions of reality (time and space) within the FBI offices.

This whole scene serves as a furthering of what was previously established in Twin Peaks, that the dream worlds of light and dark existing behind the back drop of Lynch’s worlds, can manipulate and control the narrative and its characters.

Blue Velvet established the dualities of light and dark inherent in Lynchtown, and melded its association with desire and fantasy within the human condition, as well as highlighting the dark underbelly hiding behind the wholesome veneer of small-town America. Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me advanced these fantasy worlds into supernatural worlds of dreaming and consciousness, centering them in the central narrative and physical worlds of Lynchtown, creating a place that is “both wonderful and strange“.

“I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange” – Agent Cooper, Twin Peaks (1990)

The evolution of these binary oppositions in the Twin Peaks universe, from subtle oppositions of fantasy and desire into dual worlds of dreams that are central to narrative disruption, would lead to further evolution of these worlds into the realms of consciousness in Lynch’s later films.

Both Lost Highway (1997) and Mulholland Drive (2001), would take what Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks started, these binary worlds would become further entrenched in the narrative, and the distinctions of dreams and reality would become even more blurred.

The small idyll of Lynchtown, would turn into the dark and beautiful city of Lynch Angeles.


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