Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Journey Through Twin Peaks


This series was selected as one of the "best video essays of 2014" by Kevin B. Lee at Fandor

Twin Peaks has entertained, frustrated, and challenged generations of viewers - and will continue to do so when it returns in 2016. Once you fall under its spell, the presence of this moody, mysterious world is hard to shake. I created Journey Through Twin Peaks as a companion for all kinds of Twin Peaks fans: the passionate enthusiast, always looking for new clues and avenues; the veteran viewer, who hasn't seen the show in years but is considering a re-visit; the enthusiastic newcomer, fresh from a first viewing and bursting with questions; and even the curious outsider, ready to take a first trip into these dark woods.

Each chapter avoids plot spoilers for upcoming episodes, but you should check my descriptions and spoiler warnings just to be on the safe side. If you don't want to know anything about the narrative shape of the story - if/when the mystery ends, who/what the film is about - don't scroll beyond the episodes you've seen. I would love to hear feedback from anyone who watches these videos alongside their first viewing of Twin Peaks; however, there's also something to be said for flying blind. I had no idea what I was getting into when I pressed play on that first disc years ago, and have been reeling from the aftershocks ever since.

Journey Through Twin Peaks analyzes the Twin Peaks narrative in chronological order, from pilot to feature film (with occasional character/subject asides that look back but not forward). You can break it into installments, watching each chapter as it becomes relevant to your own journey. Or you can jump directly into the chapters that interest you most - "The Twin Peaks Mythology" and "7 Facts About Fire Walk With Me" have proved particularly popular as standalones. Some have also marathoned the videos immediately after finishing Twin Peaks, treating them as a lengthy documentary epilogue. "What did I just see?" is a pretty common response to a first - or even second, third, fourth - viewing of the show and film. I've asked that myself many times, which is how this project came to be.

The first Twin Peaks cycle was born an acclaimed television phenomenon and died a reviled box-office flop. In between, David Lynch's and Mark Frost's visions sharply diverged, on everything from the central mystery to Cooper's character - they even disagreed on what the show was fundamentally about. These videos do visit the creative differences between Lynch and Frost, and touch on the larger context of Twin Peaks' reversal of fortune (a subject explored more extensively elsewhere on this blog), but their primary purpose is to reveal the series and film, together, as a complete, effective work of art. Despite the detours, dead ends, and disagreements involved in its making, Twin Peaks is not simply the failed experiment that media narratives lead us to believe.

So pour the coffee, slice up the cherry pie, and queue up the pilot episode. The journey starts right now, with this preview (cross-posted on YouTube)...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Images from a journey through Twin Peaks


First, let me mention that Part 4 of Journey Through Twin Peaks ("Laura is the One") just went up. Instead of posting these images with that presentation, I wanted to give them their own space. One of the most enjoyable parts of this video series for me has been using superimpositions and split-screens to juxtapose scenes from different episodes or films. I've also been mixing printed quotations with images, and Part 4 upped the ante on both counts. So here are some of the comparisons, contrasts, and complements I created for the final stretch of Journey Through Twin Peaks. I have included explanations and context to go with the pictures though you should watch the videos for the full picture. There are spoilers for Fire Walk With Me and Twin Peaks.

Journey Through Twin Peaks: Part 4 - Laura is the One



With this entry, Journey Through Twin Peaks is finally complete. It took over four months and this entry is appearing exactly two months after it was originally scheduled. I had no idea how in-depth this project would be, but it's become a tremendous opportunity for me to use all of the Twin Peaks knowledge and ideas I have been gathering over the past year, to explore new avenues (I knew virtually nothing about Theosophy or Hinduism before I researched them for these videos), and to challenge myself with writing and editing a lengthy video series.

I thought Part 4 would be the easiest because I've already written so much about Fire Walk With Me and besides, it's just a feature film (the last entry covered over a dozen hours of material from the show). Instead this became the longest entry yet and brings the total length of the series to over four hours. This is such a rich work to dig into and doing so has taught me so much more about it. A year ago, as the world of Twin Peaks began to lure me back in I considered Fire Walk With Me a brilliant but messy, flawed masterpiece. Certainly I still see its compromises and complications, but there is a more fundamental unity there than I realized. Most of all, it makes an effective conclusion to the original Twin Peaks cycle and has a spiritual core that I initially missed. Chapter 25, my reading of the train car sequence, is probably my favorite entry in the whole Journey.

Part 4 also covers the impact of Twin Peaks on Lynch's later work, additional entries into the saga (like the Missing Pieces) and looks forward to 2016. After this goes up, I will also be posting dozens of images from "Laura is the One" - usually I combine these with the video posts but there were so many juxtapositions, superimpositions, and quotations in these chapters that I wanted to give them their own space. And tomorrow, hopefully, I will post a complete round-up of the entire Journey Through Twin Peaks in one convenient spot. For now, you can visit the individual posts to watch Part 1 (Harmony of the Dark Woods), Part 2 (The Center Cannot Hold), and Part 3 (The Whole Damned Town).

I hope you like watching these videos as much as I liked making them.