I’ve been working my way through the new David Lynch “Twin Peaks” series. DVD after DVD, all borrowed from the library as is my usual mode of TV viewing and one that requires a certain forbearance from reading about the show in question while it is being premiered and generating buzz.
As it is, I’ve just watched the pivotal central episode 8, an explanation as to the origins of the malevolent spirit that provides the oppositional force throughout the complete series and movie, “Fire Walk With Me”.
(Skip the rest if you wish to avoid spoilers.)
It’s an extraordinarily bold piece of TV that is going to puzzle many, up to and including many who are already aware of Lynch’s themes and motifs. It continues what has been apparent from the opening episode, a deliberate hommage to the work of Stanley Kubrick, from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in particular. This is most apparent in a lengthy montage that is close to the final ‘Through the Stargate’ scene in Kubrick’s movie in appearance and impact. The soundtrack to the visual is provided by Penderecki’s “Threnody for the Victims of Horishima”, seemingly an appropriate choice for a scene that begins with an atomic explosion. Yet, despite the powerful and unsettling music, I felt it wasn’t quite right. Too obvious, perhaps. Kubrick’s choice of Ligeti’s ‘Atmospheres’ made for a much better fit to his visual gymnastics. I would preferred Lynch to stepped a little further afield – Iannis Xenakis comes to mind as much better match with his electronic works such as “Diamorphoses” or “Concret PH”. These, and other Xenakis works, offer a more radical (although to many ears, Penderecki’s “Threnody” will be much more radical then they are used to) soundscape that actually hues closer to Lynch’s own industrial scores (e.g. “Eraserhead”) than to much modern classical music. I can’t help but feel that Lynch could have done better on his own than by using the Penderecki. All of which suggests the Penderecki piece was picked only part way for its actual sound; it was also chosen for association.
Fair enough, I guess. But I sense something of lost opportunity. Small quibble though – it’s already clear that this new “Twin Peaks” is both something of a summation and recapitulation of themes that have fascinated Lynch since he began making films and may well end up being his masterpiece. It’s already better than the original series, more involving and, ironically – despite the multiple marginally connected plot threads – more coherent too. Which, of course, means it is just about the best TV ever made.