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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD 2.0 Surround
  • English DTS-HD 7.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • The Missing Pieces, ninety minutes of deleted and alternate takes from the film, assembled by Lynch
  • New interview with actor Sheryl Lee
  • Interviews from 2014 by David Lynch with actors Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, and Grace Zabriskie
  • An interview with David Lynch from the 2005 edition of filmmaker and writer Chris Rodley’s book Lynch on Lynch

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: David Lynch
1992 | 135 Minutes | Licensor: MK2

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $0.00 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #898
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: October 17, 2017
Review Date: October 27, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

In the town of Twin Peaks, everyone has their secrets—but especially Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). In this prequel to his groundbreaking 1990s television series, David Lynch resurrects the teenager found wrapped in plastic at the beginning of the show, following her through the last week of her life and teasing out the enigmas that surround her murder. Homecoming queen by day and drug-addicted thrill seeker by night, Laura leads a double life that pulls her deeper and deeper into horror as she pieces together the identity of the assailant who has been terrorizing her for years. Nightmarish in its vision of an innocent torn apart by unfathomable forces, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is nevertheless one of Lynch’s most humane films, aching with compassion for its tortured heroine—a character as enthralling in life as she was in death.


PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (the prequel to his popular television show) on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a 4K restoration conducted by CBS Television City and scanned by MK2 from the 35mm original camera negative. The film was previously only available on Blu-ray in the Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery box set (and then a slimmed down edition that followed) released by Paramount/CBS Video, featuring the original two seasons of the show, Fire Walk with Me, and The Missing Pieces. This edition marks the first time it has been available on its own on the format in North America.

Not in the least bit surprising but this does look striking. The restoration work has beautifully cleaned this film up and I would be very hard pressed to point out any print flaws or any other source related issues. The image is very sharp and highly detailed, from long shots to close-ups and film grain is present, rendered cleanly and naturally. Despite its dark nature the film is quite colourful, particularly in its use of reds, an important colour to the series and film. There’s the red outfit (skirt and wig) worn by the, uh, “coded message,” I guess you can call her, in the opening moments that pops vividly but never bleeds. Also impressive is a night club sequence doused in red light. For lesser presentations this would have probably been a macroblocking hell but here it looks smooth and clean. Black levels on whole are pretty good, looking inky and deep a good majority of the time delivering great depth and shadow detail in the darker scenes, but they can falter a bit, black crush sneaking in there on a couple of occasions.

Of course, the big question most will have is “how does it compare to the presentation found in the previous box set?” Well, in all honesty, Criterion’s presentation and Paramount’s presentations look pretty identical. They both come from the same 4K restoration, it doesn’t look like either have handled colours any differently, black levels look the same, grain is rendered well on both, details are sharp, etc. They essentially look the same. I’m sure someone would come up with something arguing that one is better than the other in a few ways using several analysis techniques that get right down to the individual pixels, and I certainly wouldn’t fault them or doubt their results, but simply watching them both on screen as one normally would there’s no discernable difference. If you’ve seen the series box set’s presentation of the film you’ve essentially already seen the Criterion’s.

So no, there is no major upgrade here, but it’s still a really wonderful restoration and final presentation.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Criterion includes both the film’s original 2.0 stereo surround track and the recently remixed 7.1 soundtrack, both presented in DTS-HD MA. My system is still only set up for 5.1 surround so I can only comment on the 7.1 track in that context. Unsurprisingly Criterion doesn’t carry over the other languages from the previous Paramount set, but these two English tracks replicate similar tracks on that release.

The film has a very dynamic soundtrack and both tracks do a wonderful job with it, but I would ultimately lean on the 7.1. Both present fully immersive experiences, but the 7.1 track does have a bit more fun. There is noticeable direction between the rear speakers in the 7.1 track and I thought the panning effects in the fronts are a bit more distinct and clean. I also found the bass in the night club scene, accompanied by the flatness of what little dialogue you could hear, to be far more effective and natural in the 7.1 track (reminded me of times from my youth of going to a club and actually trying to talk to people).

Either track ultimately will work and will come down to personal preference. Both are immersive to varying degrees and both sound sharp and crystal clear.

9/10

SUPPLEMENTS

With audio and picture not offering any sort of significant upgrade I guess I would have expected Criterion to blow away the previous edition in special features, but oddly they don’t even feel inclined to do that, carrying over a couple of features and only adding a couple of their own.

The big inclusion, and probably the big draw on the previous box set, are The Missing Pieces, an edited together collection of deleted and alternate scenes from Fire Walk with Me running a rather staggering 91-minutes (in an included round-table discussion, Lynch estimates with everything placed back in the film would run about 3-and-half to four hours). These scenes have been a sort of Holy Grail for fans of the show and/or film so finally getting them was a bit of an event. I hadn’t actually got around to watching them yet on the previous box set so this was my first exposure to them and the whole thing is a bit of a trip. I was first surprised on a technical level (they look to have been restored rather painstakingly and are also presented in 7.1 surround, though Dolby Digital here and not DTS-HD like it is on the old set), then surprised how well the whole affair actually does almost work as its own film, and then finally by how great the material itself is.

I was stunned to see a more complete and cohesive (as much as it can be) version of Bowie’s walk-on, explaining the fate of his character a bit more while also providing his whole office sequence without the trippy montage that features in the final film. There are a few other sequences film-specific that are amusing (a fist fight between Chris Isaak’s Chester Desmond and the local “steel rod bending” sheriff for starters) but I was most taken aback by how a lot of the deleted material is more specific to plot strands and other characters of the show that were missing from the finished film. Two of the bigger complaints against the film from fans are how the film is far darker and less quirky while also missing a lot of the town’s characters, which explains that missing quirk. Most of the deleted material features these missing characters and their own plot threads that would have tied the film more to the show, so we get scenes featuring Everett McGill, Kimmy Robertson, Jack Nance, Joan Chen, and more. Even the infamous Norwegians get nods in these scenes.

It’s obvious that while Lynch wanted the film to take place in the Twin Peaks universe (which it certainly does) he also wanted it to be its own entity, and far darker, trying to keep the focus on Laura Palmer and not let outside characters and their quirks distract from what is essentially more of a character study. Some of those quirks are still there but most of them (and the show’s humour) found their way onto the cutting room floor. You can also see how he only keeps plotlines that bleed into the show if they fed specifically into Laura’s downfall, but even then just the bare minimum: the drug smuggling plotline central to the first season of the show is still in the film since Laura does get tangled up in it, but the deleted scenes show this was actually fleshed out a bit more. Also, a number of scenes that clarify some plot points in the film can also be found here, and these cuts probably aided more in making the film indecipherable to those coming to the film with little knowledge of the show.

Again this is my first time viewing the material but it really is a goldmine of stuff that further expands the whole Twin Peaks universe and unlike a lot of other deleted material for other films these are essential viewing for fans. I guess it would have been insane for Criterion not to carry it over but even then I’m glad they still did.

Criterion does include two new interviews exclusive to this release, one with actor Sheryl Lee and another with composer Angelo Badalamenti. The Lee interview is a great one, the actor covering how she was cast as a corpse and how Lynch, who was impressed with her abilities, decided to write her into the show as another character. But what I liked most was her discussion about how much she unconsciously put into the character, admitting that once she was done with the show and the movie she found it weird to be thinking about herself and not this character. Badalamenti shares a couple of stories (starting with a funny one involving the Queen and Paul McCartney) but spends most of the time talking about how Lynch and him worked together on creating the music for the show and movie before he plays a sections from the film’s closing theme, “The Voice of Love.” His interview is also a strong one but Lee’s is the stand-out. They run 22-minutes and 20-minutes respectively.

This release then carries over one other feature from the Paramount set and that is the Actor’s Discussion, featuring a 28-minute roundtable discussion between Lynch and actors Lee, Ray Wise, and Grace Zabriskie. It’s not a terribly insightful discussion I’m sad to say (so I’m glad Criterion was at least able to get Lee for her exclusive interview) but it is still a lot of fun, the four recalling that time and their happy memories. What is most wonderful about it, though, is you get the idea these three actors really felt like a family while working on the show and film, a messed up family for sure, but a family no less. Their most positive memories involve the more intimate and happy moments that were shot for the film, including one scene that was ultimately deleted (and included in The Missing Pieces) but they revisit here on a laptop. Wise and Zabriskie talk a bit about their characters and the appeal the series has for fans but don’t stray too much from that. Again, it’s fun but not essential.

Getting new interviews with Wise, Zabriskie, or any of the other actors in the film (even MacLachlan) would have been great, but oddly Criterion didn’t or couldn’t. I was also surprised not to see anything new with Lynch here since he did participate on Criterion’s editions for his other films. Criterion doesn’t even include the 5-minutes’ worth of archival interviews around the film found on the Paramount release. They do include two theatrical trailers for the film (American and international) as well as a trailer for The Missing Pieces. A bit of a downgrade compared to the Paramount release is that this one doesn’t have chapter stops (I was always shocked that Paramount included them) and therefore doesn’t have what is otherwise Criterion’s fairly standard Timeline feature. It’s also rather shocking that Criterion doesn’t include anything in regards to the show, at least to contextualize the film for possible newcomers who may not be all that familiar with the show. Not having the entire series to reference like you could with the previous set is a bit of a hindrance, but getting little to no contextualization is almost deadly.

Making up a little for that slight downgrade and then the lack of much more to distinguish it from the previous set is the included booklet featuring an excerpt from Chris Rodley’s 1997 book Lynch on Lynch. Here you do get a little contextualization as Lynch talks about the show and its success before getting into the film (and his disappointment at its reception), but this probably won’t answer many newcomers’ questions. It’s still a great read, though.

Ultimately the features are fine, The Missing Pieces being the real draw, though again this was also available on the previous box set. Still, some new material from Lynch and maybe a feature at least offering something like a Cliff’s Notes version of the show would have made a far better release, aiding people that are coming to the film with little knowledge of the show.

7/10

CLOSING

This is, ultimately, a good edition for the film but it’s really held back one factor: there was already an even better way to get the film previously. I’m assuming that Paramount/CBS lost the home video rights to Fire Walk with Me so that is probably why Criterion has it now, and I’m going to guess that eventually there will be a new release for the original series from Paramount excluding the film. Still, despite Criterion adding two really strong interviews (and a nice booklet) the previous release had the advantage of not only including The Missing Pieces and the same wonderful audio/video presentation you get here, but it also came with the entire first two seasons of the show, providing the context one probably needs. Criterion missing this context hampers their edition.

In the end this edition is good for those that want to own the film but have no interest in owning the show, or even those who missed out on getting the Paramount release that appears to be now out-of-print (again, I’m guessing Paramount will eventually release a Blu-ray featuring just the show). Outside of that and all of the good things it has going for it the release still feels a bit redundant.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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