The Headless Angels Have All Gone Away...
(or, LynchNet's Fire Walk With Me DVD review)
| Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me|
Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Color, Closed-captioned, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound
Original documentary "Reflections on the Phenomenon of Twin Peaks" featuring the cast and crew
DVD ROM enabled
Widescreen anamorphic format
For Years now Lynch fans have been asking the question, when is Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me going to be available on DVD? It's New Line's most requested catalog title. The German disc is a waste and even the UK disc is from a poor print. After years of delays, and even a street date cancelation, the day of New Line's Fire Walk With Me DVD release is finally at hand. And for the most part, the disc is a winner. Since most everyone reading this is probably already familiar with the film (why else would you be at a Lynch site after all), I won't bother with summarizing it and will get straight to the disc details.
Put simply, this is the best Fire Walk With Me has ever looked on video. The image is a sharp and crisp. Sure, in some places it does show the age of the film (has it been ten years already? - man I feel old now!). It's not reference quality but very, very good. The color is nothing less than spectacular. NTSC is always hard on reds (and FWWM has a lot of red), but the colors on this disc are vibrant and there's almost no bleeding at all. And for the first time on home video, the 1.85:1 aspect ratio is framed correctly! The only other video release of Fire Walk With Me in the correct aspect ratio was New Line's original US laserdisc, which was framed too low in some places (the Japanese laserdisc opened up the frame to 1.66:1, but was still badly-framed and plagued by other quality issues). Below is a comparison of the original 1.85:1 laserdisc and the new DVD:
Framing on New Line's original FWWM laserdisc
Framing on New Line's new FWWM DVD
As you can see the original laserdisc has a serious problem with cutting people's heads off. It's nice to see the time was taken to make sure the correct framing was used throughout the film. Viewing the disc on an a progressive scan display in anamorphic widescreen is incredible, and you can't help but be drawn into the film. Also absent are the annoying scratches that plagued the UK DVD release. This is a new transfer from a very clean print. As I said before, it's not perfect, but still an outstanding transfer. The only small complaint is that the layer change is right in the middle of a shot, around 1:14:14 on the disc. Depending on your player, you might be annoyed with a slight pause there.
The disc really shines here as well. Included on the disc is both a new Dolby Digital 5.1 and a new DTS Surround soundtrack. Honestly, there's very little difference between the two that I could hear. But both mixes are great, yet subtile. There's nothing that yanks you out of the atmosphere of the film or distracts you. Most of the sound comes from the front stage, with just the music and a few isolated sound effects from the rear. It's a very similar mix to the original Dolby surround track, but opened up a bit more. Also, effects and more importantly dialog are a lot clearer than in the original mix. For instance, the dialog in the Pink Room scene is a lot more audible. There's really no need for the subtitles anymore (they're burned into the film so you're stuck with them anyway). The dynamic range on the disc is incredible. Both DTS and DD 5.1 tracks are set to a fairly low volume for dialog, which allows the headway to really blast you on the loud sequences (such as the a fore mentioned Pink Room scene). Also included on the disc are Stereo Surround tracks in both English and French.
Here's where New Line dropped the ball. Fire Walk With Me was originally planned as a part of their "Platinum Series" of DVDs, sort of New Line's version of a Special Edition. The final disc bares this logo nowhere on the cover. And there's a good reason: there's not enough extra content to really make an SE out of. Before we get to what's missing, let's look at what extras there are.
First, there's a new documentary by the same people that did the one for Artisan's Twin Peaks First Season DVD set. For the first minute or two, one starts to wonder if they didn't just pick up whatever pieces of footage were left on the cutting room floor from the series documentary and edited them together for this one. Thankfully, as it progresses, it improves. It takes a while, but we are treated to some insights from the cast on their feelings about the film. Some express their disappointment that the film wasn't more like the series. Others talk about their feelings on being cut from the final film. All express their admiration for Lynch. Over all, it's very much like the documentary on the series DVD. If you're looking for deep technical insights on the filming or thoughts from Lynch himself, you'll be very disappointed. But if you just want to see what the cast looks like today and hear their reflections on the whole Twin Peaks phenomenon in general, then you'll be satisfied with this documentary.
The only other extra is New Line's U.S. theatrical trailer. It's the same general audiences one previously available on the DVDs for The Hidden, Mother Night, Dark City and other New Line titles. What's most disappointing is that the alternate R rated U.S. trailer was not included on the disc as well. For a disc so lacking of extras, they could have thrown it in.
Then there are the deleted scenes. Or rather, there aren't any. Those familiar with the whole deleted scenes drama know the story well, but I'll recap for those who don't. Lynch selected a number of deleted scenes he'd like to include on the disc (somewhere between 13-19 depending on who you ask). The only problem was that new sound mixes needed to be done for the scenes, costing close to $100,000. And that's not counting the cost of the scenes themselves. New Line didn't want to pay the whole cost themselves, so they asked the French company who holds the rights to the film to help pay for it. The two companies negotiated back and forth as the months turned into years. Fans sent emails, letters and even cans of creamed corn to in support of getting the scenes. But in the end, New Line decided they didn't want to spend the money on the deleted scenes. Granted, FWWM is their most requested catalog title, and the cost of mixing the deleted scenes is probably less than New Line spent for one day of craft services while filming Lord of the Rings, but there's no room for logic and reason in the new AOLTimeWarner environment. What's sad is that now the French company MK2 is trying to release a FWWM disc with the deleted scenes, which will lead to one of two things, neither of them great. Either MK2 will decide that the extras are too expensive to include, in which case we'll probably never get to see them. What's even sadder about that possibility is that if they and New Line had just worked together, they each could have split the cost and there'd have been a much better chance for the scenes on both discs. The other possibility is that MK2 will release the deleted scenes, which means those of us in the U.S. will have to buy FWWM on DVD yet again. And keep in mind that very few people in the US are capable of playing back PAL media. Too bad New Line couldn't get their act together on this one.
Still, the lack of deleted scenes aside, this is a must own DVD. The film itself is what's most important, and New Line did an outstanding job in this department. At a street price of only around $14.99, there's no reason to not buy it (after paying for your davidlynch.com membership of course). Good job New Line on the film itself. But thumbs down on the lack of deleted scenes.
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