Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | June 13, 2017

A testament to creativity

“I will see you again in twenty-five years.”

These were the last words Laura Palmer spoke to Dale Cooper in a dream at the end of the original series of Twin Peaks, which finished airing in mid-1991.

The Return of Twin Peaks to television in 2017 (the creators tried valiantly to get it done for 2016 to make it a perfect 25 years) is a testament to those who love fiction dearly and is nothing short of amazing, given the eerily accurate words of Laura Palmer.

It’s certainly a testament to the passionate fans of the Twin Peaks franchise who fell in love with the characters, the story-line, and most of all, David Lynch’s quirky film style. His movies are a must if you like abstract art in film and analyzing every detail of every scene to better understand what’s going on in the story.

But I think the celebration here means something more than just the world of Twin Peaks. David Lynch and Mark Frost, the creators of Twin Peaks, created a story that made the audience think. There are multiple ways of viewing what’s going on in the story. The use of symbolism and metaphor are used heavily throughout the series from the early days to the present.

Example: there are red balloons in the background of this one scene, and there’s a red deflating balloon in another. Are they connected? Are the characters in the two scenes related in some way? What if one is a dream sequence of the other?

A large portion of the movie and television viewing public will not appreciate this kind of product. But for those that do, the story keeps getting better. As I watch it now, I don’t know if the scene I’m watching is just a slowly filmed expression of silliness designed to ratchet up the tension or if something very significant is about to happen. I’m on the edge of my seat and I cannot wait for the next show.

The fans are going crazy right now (on mostly) and we have all grown up with Twin Peaks. Some are professional audio engineers or video editors now, and those skills come in handy when watching Twin Peaks and analyzing it afterwards. Oh, David Lynch is a musician and audio engineer as well. There are occasionally sounds or words whispered backwards. 😀

As for me, the lead character upon which the original story centered, Laura Palmer is 2 years older than me. A number of other characters were around my age as well. Now I see them twenty-five years later and it’s like seeing old friends. For those actors that were much older than I, these are their last years. Several have shot scenes and were not able to finish the series, including some that came out of retirement to do it.

All of this is, as I say, a testament to the lovers of fiction and what can happen in a story. But this is also a testament to another critical component in creativity: improvisation.

While reading many interviews of the actors that were in the original Twin Peaks (most expertly and wonderfully collected by a former fanzine publication named Wrapped in Plastic), I found that they all consistently remarked upon the spontaneous creativity of Lynch. Some of the finer points:
– He didn’t have them do any readings; he preferred just talking to them and getting a feel for their person.
– He often didn’t give anyone a script, or if he did it was only for a scene or two.
– He would often change the scene on the spot, basically rewriting everything in his head.
– He took many suggestions from the actors along the way who were getting to know their characters in their own way.
– He went with the moment, including making a prop staff member a major role (and star) because they accidentally were in a scene. This refers to the famous episode where Frank Silva, one of the prop hands, couldn’t get out of the way fast enough before the cameras started filming. David Lynch liked the look of Frank and asked him to sneak around toward the camera, making scary faces. The rest is history, as he became one of the most iconic images of the franchise.
– He has often said that “things happen for a reason”. If an actor isn’t available for filming, you have to go with something else in the story to accommodate that. It’s all a call for creativity.

There are many actors that were in the first series and wanted to be in the current one but there’s no room for them in the story. That reflects a loyalty and appreciation to David Lynch’s approach to creativity.

It’s been a while since I’ve had such a “crush” on creativity from something in a movie or television. Nothing I’ve ever seen or read comes close to this. Okay, I’m probably exaggerating here, but I still can’t get over that 25 years.

I’m looking forward to what influence this may have on my own writing. 🙂

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