“This is the water. And this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within” The Woodsman in Twin Peaks – Season 3 Episode 8
Spoiler alert: some mild spoilers ahead
We won’t forget soon those words we heard in the latest episode of Twin Peaks together with the instant classic: “Got a light?”. In the end credits the man, who gets darker in face as his actions get more violent, is credited as “woodsman”. As you know if you watched the series the woods around twin peaks hold a terrible secret and… are the battlefield for the clash between good and evil. Fire is related to the black lodge and represents the evil power, that’s why the movie that explains what happened before the first season is named “Twin Peaks: fire walk with me”. We could start analyzing what the water, the horse, the wood (remember the log lady?), the woodsman and his requests mean but this is not the point and I think it may be counterproductive. Here I want to give you a key to better enjoy this work of art and Lynch in general.
What to watch first? If you haven’t seen Twin Peaks and Lynch’s filmography I would start with some movies just to familiarize with who you are dealing with. Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire can be sufficient. As for the Twin Peaks series and movie(s) I would start with the first season, then I would watch the Movie “Twin Peaks: Fire walk with me” without forgetting “The missing pieces”, scenes that didn’t make their way into the movie but should have. The 1990 first season is pretty easy to follow, it’s narrative and there are not a lot of metaphysical elements, it’s misterious and entertaining in a dense 8-episode package. The movie, instead, is much more Lynchian; the director was constrained by the network’s requests in the series and finally affirms his vision giving space to the mythology. It received negative reviews by the critics and it holds a 28/100 on the Internet Movie Database. Non professional reviewers score is much less severe with a 7.2/10 and a 8/10 for The missing pieces. The 22-episode second season was much less successful in terms of audience. It was inserted later and later in the tv schedule and the words pronounced by Laura Palmer in the black lodge: “I’ll see you again in 25 years” sounded like a promise that couldn’t be fulfilled. Viewers complained about its length and, back then, they weren’t prepared for the insertion of abstract and metaphysical elements. I can agree with this statement, some narrative threads (like the liaison between James Hurley and Evelyn Marsh) are overstretched and the show loses its momentum. The first season was innovative as it debuted serialization to the point of being called the mother of all tv series and it contained all the winning elements: teenage drama, small town secrets, a murder of a young and beautiful girl, quirky characters, a compelling and reassuring mountain set that jarred with the ongoing horror and an unforgettable soundtrack. The diktats of the greedy TV executives and the bonded genius undoubtedly produced a masterpiece but an artist should claim his own freedom. Lynch declared that he has thought long and deep into what happened in Twin Peaks during these 25 years and he achieved the remarkable result of having total freedom by the broadcaster. This is what happens with the 2017 third season, an 18 episode movie with the unleashed vision free to roam among the mythology, the subconscious, metaphysics, and a (still) weak narrative.
How to watch it? First of all I would say you shouldn’t watch it to understand, reject your reason and your amazing rational judgment. Give space to feelings and emotions. It doesn’t matter if the narrative is going somewhere or not. Sometimes your patience will be tested to the limit. Don’t forget that Lynch’s first passion was painting, therefore this is not just a chain of events, it’s visual art. Our time is full of brilliant tv series where a lot of schocking plot twists take place in an heartbeat. But the quality is measured by the lasting mark left on our soul. If you are flung into a whirling cloud of matter’s particles where pure evil is spit out in globes by an undefined creature (okay I’m spoiling a bit here), just feel. After all this is what the aesthetic experience is made of: an emotional response to perception trough senses. Lock your door, dim the light, silence your phone and enjoy the meaningful images, the top-notch audio editing and the evergreen soundtrack. There’s also a musical raid by the Nine Inch Nails. The proposed approach is not easy because we have to deprive our mind of its basic a priori shapes: space and time. When such cosmic forces are at work those concepts bend to an unbearable degree. Let’s make some examples. The Man from another place asks to Cooper: “Is it future? Or…is it past?”. The gas station scene is a time lapse. When the woodsman approaches the couple in the car the scream of the woman sounds in slow motion, probably time slowed down. In the black lodge characters run after each other in never ending identical rooms and their age can change suddenly. Welcome to the “Inland Empire”, the realm of eternal and mighty powers, the subconscious you have to surrender to if you want to take this journey. And it will be an unforgettable one.
App for tv series: TV Show time (iOS only)
App for movies (it has tv series as well): Imdb
Twin Peaks: Fire walk with me on Imdb
Twin Peaks: The missing pieces on Imdb
Twin Peaks: season 1 and 2 on Imdb
Twin Peaks: season 3 on Imdb
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