The Laura Palmer Project

Discussion of Twin Peaks TV Series, Fire Walk With Me, and Books

Moderators: Annie, BookhouseBoyBob, Ross, Jerry Horne, Brad D

Forum rules
Welcome to the forum. We know our members are passionate about their love for all things Twin Peaks. You wouldn't be here if that wasn't the case. Despite having differing viewpoints it is a policy that we all treat each other with mutual respect.

Posting abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, sexually-orientated, or any material that may violate any laws be it of your country or the country where this forum is hosted will get you permanently banned.

Posting of spoilers are allowed as long as you indicate (Spoilers) in the topic name and use the Spoiler Tag.
User avatar
LostInTheMovies
Posts: 1558
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:48 pm

The Laura Palmer Project

Postby LostInTheMovies » Sat Mar 07, 2015 4:26 pm

This thread exists to discuss the impact of Laura Palmer as a character on individual viewers, particularly based on her actual presence in Jennifer Lynch's book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer and David Lynch's film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The responses could be as personal or general as you see fit (and can be copied from previous threads on this or other sites for convenience).

The vague idea of this topic has been simmering at the back of my mind for a while but several responses to the "How did you react to Twin Peaks" question inspired me to finally give it a go as a standalone thread. I initially thought "The Laura Palmer Project" could exist as an individual website where visitors could contribute their own responses. But for a variety of reasons I don't really want to start or manage such a site myself, so hopefully if this thread keeps going for a while and if someone thinks it's worth it, they could transfer it to a standalone site themselves.

I've noticed that, more than any other character I know of in film and literature, Laura Palmer feels "real" to many people - more than once I've heard people remark that days after seeing the film, they would remember her at random moments and feel deeply, inexplicably moved. In particular, survivors of sexual and other forms of abuse connect to the character. As do those who have had a troubled adolescence; experienced similar issues (drug abuse, mental illness, depression); or witnessed/learned about abuse in their own family or circle of friends (one person told me that they had considered Laura an "over-the-top" character until they befriended a survivor of incest and discovered just how accurate FWWM was in its depiction of that trauma). And others may be quite distanced from the circumstances of her life yet still feel an unexpectedly deep connection. The character of Laura Palmer is very particular and also very universal.

It seems that for many people talking about, and reading about, Laura has a therapeutic effect. I find that reading responses to the character, the film, the book, this whole aspect of the Twin Peaks has really helped me clarify my own thoughts and reflections too. So this thread exists for those reasons. I'll probably share my own personal take further down the line, but wanted to get the ball rolling with this introduction. At some point sooner rather than later I may also return with some pertinent quotes from the Twin Peaks/FWWM media round-up I compiled a year ago.

Consider this thread dedicated to David Lynch, Jennifer Lynch, and Sheryl Lee, whom I would consider the primary authors of Laura Palmer as a flesh-and-blood character.
User avatar
The Grey Lodge
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:48 am

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby The Grey Lodge » Sun Mar 08, 2015 1:09 pm

I've never been able to rectify the character of Laura Palmer completely because I feel there's been three separate versions of her and, IMHO, they don't mesh:

    1) TV version (information about who Laura was is told to us by other characters or Laura herself is briefly shown via flashback).
    2) Fire Walk With Me version (which I think of as the "Sheryl Lee version).
    3) Jennifer Lynch's book version (The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer)

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer:
I discard this book because, even back when I read it in 1990, I felt Jennifer didn't have a handle on Laura's voice. In fact, I felt all the characters who appeared (like Leo) were way, way off. I was hoping that since the executive producers daughter wrote it, she'd have more insight into the character, but alas, it read like bad fan-fiction.

Fire Walk With Me:
I thought Sheryl Lee gave the performance of her life in FWWM, but the problem for me has always been this - this Laura was a complete wreck during her last 7 days. On the show, everyone is shocked to learn that she's dead and even more so when they discover the details of her secret life. At her funeral, Bobby screams that everyone knew she was troubled, but there's a major difference between a teenager being troubled and having a nervous breakdown every damn day. The FWWM Laura completely conflicts with how the TV show presented her.

Twin Peaks: TV Series
This is my favorite Laura. This is the one who looked like a teenager (via flashbacks) and not a grown woman. This is the one who could portray a certain sweetness ("James, guess why I'm so happy today?") while being revealed to actually resent it ("James is sweet, but he's so dumb."). This is the one who sounded like she was battling demons and didn't understand the world around her or the effect she had on people ("Why is it so easy to get men to like me?"). This was the Laura I wish we had gotten in FWWM. Alas, Lynch decided to retcon many aspects of the show.

For me, Laura Palmer was best left a mystery.
User avatar
StealThisCorn
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:53 pm
Location: Laying on Laura's lap in the Red Room / Gorging on garmonbozia with Bob Above the Convenience Store

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby StealThisCorn » Sun Mar 08, 2015 3:07 pm

Even more than Cooper, Laura Palmer is my favorite character in the series, for many of those reasons. First her mystery drew me in, who she was, what she went through, why she died. But then, getting to know her, I could strongly relate to her because of aspects of my own childhood and adolescence. And she was the only one ever who has shown strength enough to beat Bob, where others like Leland and even Cooper failed.
User avatar
Nightsea
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:56 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby Nightsea » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:46 pm

LostInTheMovies, thanks for the warm reply in the other thread. Maybe Gabriel will post here also. Forgive me, by the way, for taking a few days to respond. I had to take a breather and step away for a little bit after such a confessional post. Below is a slightly abridged version of my initial comments on Fire Walk With Me, which were originally posted in the Turning Points thread:

I've been a visitor to these discussion boards for a while, but didn't join until recently. One of the main reasons as to why I joined is to be able to respond to discuss Fire Walk With Me. There's no need for me to delve too far into this, nor would I, but I know what it's like to be abused at a young age. Essentially I knew nothing about Twin Peaks or David Lynch when this film was originally released. I was all of fourteen years old. I'd recently been through a terrible, terrible ordeal with a sexual predator. My father was absolutely horrible. So to say the least, I identified with Laura. On my first viewing of the film, I found the last twenty minutes or so incredibly difficult to endure. By the end of the film- the scene with the angel- it was as if a floodgate had been opened and I couldn't stop crying. Laura felt such relief in that final scene- to no longer be abused. I understood the relief that she felt. Over the years, I've gotten to the point where I can watch those last few scenes without falling apart emotionally.

I went on to discover Lynch's other work. I found out that he had directed The Elephant Man, which I loved. My mother purchased a box set of the original Twin Peaks series for me on VHS. Slowly I went through his work. Mulholland Drive is probably my favorite film, period, with Mysterious Skin by Gregg Araki coming in at a close second. If I could ever meet David Lynch in person, I would just want to hug him. For the longest time, I wasn't aware that the film had been received so harshly upon its original release. I just happened to see it in a local video store and the cover intrigued me. Little did I know that I would bond with it to such a degree.
Ferguson
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:26 pm

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby Ferguson » Fri Apr 24, 2015 11:55 pm

This is my firs post on this forum although I've been lurking around for years. (and picked the name Ferguson long before Ferguson, Mo. became infamous).

I love this thread and it has spurred me to finally write something. My love of Twin Peaks has always been steeped in the character of Laura Palmer. I saw the show when I was 16 and 17, and I connected to Laura on a visceral level. The themes in her life: loneliness, secrecy, the struggle of keeping a persona that doesn't match the inner workings of her mind and soul, and her fight all spoke to me and I identified. She was a voice for me when I needed one.

I love your explorations of Laura, LostintheMovies, and was especially taken with your words on Laura's journey in FWWM in your Journey through TP series. I had many mental 'Yeses!' when watching. Thanks for that.
User avatar
WILDSTYLE
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2015 12:30 am

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby WILDSTYLE » Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:46 am

My reaction is in the form of a mixtape.
http://www.mediafire.com/download/rk4km ... eet_17.zip
User avatar
Nightsea
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:56 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby Nightsea » Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:05 am

Ferguson and WILDSTYLE, thanks for participating in the thread. After I posted, no one replied for over a month, so part of me thought, oh no, I essentially killed the thread and maybe it wasn't such a good idea. Then I felt embarrassed about it... but just to know that the character and story of Laura helped others as well, it gives me some solace. *BIG hug*
User avatar
LostInTheMovies
Posts: 1558
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:48 pm

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby LostInTheMovies » Sat Apr 25, 2015 7:47 am

Glad to see the thread is still kicking, thanks guys. Nightsea, I for one loved your contributions so don't feel bad for them. My plan for this thread is to let it unfold/people contribute at their own pace and if it drops near the bottom of the page and threatens to slip off into the oblivion of World of Blue pg. 2 I will always pop up to update it and get it back near the top (probably with Laura-related posts/articles I gathered in my Gone Fishin' post last year).

I figure it would be a slow-moving process but over time people will chime in. I have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to posting/responding on dugpa threads so I figured with this one I'd rather lay low once I get the ball rolling and let others continue it. But I'm appreciating every response, and can't wait to listen to the mixtape.
Ferguson
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:26 pm

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby Ferguson » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:15 am

Nightsea, your brave post definitely helped me feel more comfortable to post too - so big hug back at you. :)
User avatar
Nightsea
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:56 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby Nightsea » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:42 pm

Ferguson, I'm so glad that this thread is here as a safe haven. And, it really goes to show just how powerful Fire Walk With Me is... that it's able to connect us here like this on these message boards, years and years later. LostInTheMovies, yes, I'm in agreement... maybe the thread will just take some time to grow, with members chiming in every so often. I was rereading your initial post in this thread by the way. You had mentioned how some people view Laura Palmer as an over-the-top character, but that once they become more acquainted with others who have survived abuse, that opinion tends to change. I had touched upon it in another thread, but there are things about Laura Palmer that I tend to see as over-the-top, but only in regard to how her character seemed to be spread a little too thinly at times. What I mean by that is, if we take all of the things into account that Laura was supposed to be involved in (as described in the series, movie, and the Secret Diary book), I can't help but think, how in the world did she keep up with herself? From tutoring Johnny, to working at One Eyed Jacks, to Meals on Wheels, and so on. So, I saw her as being a little over-the-top in that aspect, but I'm absolutely on the same page with you in relation to how the abuse angle was portrayed onscreen. It was very true to life. The denial. The confusion. The feelings of hopelessness. Yes, personally meeting and interacting with someone who has been through abuse certainly gives a more complete picture of its aftermath.

A few months back, I visited a close friend and his wife. My friend– he loves Twin Peaks and had yet to see The Missing Pieces, so I brought it over. While we were watching the scenes, his wife kept saying, "Why doesn't she just go to the police? If her father is molesting her, why not go to the police about it?" Alas, I think my friend's wife simply wasn't understanding that it's hardly ever that black and white (which, in my opinion, is one of the major points made by Fire Walk With Me). There are so many factors. She wasn't familiar with Twin Peaks either, so the whole Bob/Leland element threw her off a bit. My friend's wife is a smart person... but to your point, theoretically some sort of heart to heart with her about it would likely fill in the disconnect.

Lastly, a few scenes from Fire Walk With Me that helped to ground Laura in reality and balance out some of the more supernatural/out there elements:

Immediately after the Bob/Leland/Laura bedroom scene, we go to a scene in which the family is sitting at the breakfast table. Laura can't even eat, and her mother knows that something is horribly wrong. Before leaving for school, Laura gives her father the "Stay away from me" ultimatum. Then we see her at school, her day passing by in a blur. When I watch those scenes, boy, those are really powerful and hit hard. I don't know if Lynch had someone advising him or what, but those scenes are very, very poignant and capture the victim's emotional state succinctly. As Lynch would say, "It brings pure emotion to the screen/communicates pure emotion." I've heard that the cast and crew were worried about Sheryl Lee during filming, and I understand why. She had to reach pretty far into the darkness in order to deliver such a convincing and visceral performance.
User avatar
LostInTheMovies
Posts: 1558
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:48 pm

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby LostInTheMovies » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:23 pm

Many great points, Nightsea. A few thoughts in response:

Nightsea wrote:You had mentioned how some people view Laura Palmer as an over-the-top character, but that once they become more acquainted with others who have survived abuse, that opinion tends to change. I had touched upon it in another thread, but there are things about Laura Palmer that I tend to see as over-the-top, but only in regard to how her character seemed to be spread a little too thinly at times. What I mean by that is, if we take all of the things into account that Laura was supposed to be involved in (as described in the series, movie, and the Secret Diary book), I can't help but think, how in the world did she keep up with herself? From tutoring Johnny, to working at One Eyed Jacks, to Meals on Wheels, and so on. So, I saw her as being a little over-the-top in that aspect, but I'm absolutely on the same page with you in relation to how the abuse angle was portrayed onscreen.


The person I mentioned (I think it was on a Reddit board) was definitely referring to the character more than her situation - the screaming, the crying, etc. I've heard other people claim that too, which I've never really understood. It seems to speak to an inclination to see the abuse as just a "story element," something meant to push the plot along which is not where Lynch was coming from. He wanted to plunge us into the experience not just use it as a passage into something else. Hence the screaming and crying. But they didn't mean it in the way you mean it, I don't think.

I agree with you about the over-the-top storylines. As big a fan as I am of the Secret Diary, the weakest parts to me come near the end as it rushes to include all of Laura's manic activity about town! And here we reach the crux of the problem Lynch had to deal with in making Fire Walk With Me. Laura Palmer, initially, WAS just a passage into something else. He was always fascinated with her duality, the mixture of beauty and pain, but her story function (perhaps more Frost's field than Lynch's) was to take us into the world of Twin Peaks.

As such, and especially in the soap opera tribute/parody world of Twin Peaks' first season, the extent (and wild range) of her activities was supposed to be over-the-top. It worked both as a way to link Laura to all these different characters and locations but also as a winking acknowledgement that she was more of an archetype (or rather a mash-up of archetypes) than a person: the prom queen/femme fatale in one pretty package.

In Fire Walk With Me, turning this icon into a flesh-and-blood character was a huge challenge. That's why I think it was smart of Lynch to avoid most of the fanservice aspects, interesting as they might have been: Laura tutoring Josie, caring for Johnny, delivering food around town (the only part that gets a brief nod in the movie, though she doesn't even make it to the drivers' seat), working on One-Eyed Jack's, etc. This stuff isn't denied, and in some cases it's even alluded to onscreen (Lynch's retcons seldom actually demolish canon), but we are allowed to focus on a more realistic-seeming girl. Her multitude of personalities and experiences are brought down to earth while still treading in slightly exaggerated Lynchian territory.

Actually, reading the script, hearing the original ideas Lynch & Engels tossed around, and even paying close attention to details in the finished film (take the stuttering mechanic, the swaying half-naked cowboy in the Pink Room, the whole school dancing alongside Bobby, all of which are easy to miss in the final edit) it seems that this more realistic, straightforward tone was discovered on set and even as late as editing. Going into the film, Lynch very well may have intended to make something as near-cartoonish as Wild at Heart but I'm glad he didn't, instead striking a balance between surrealism and seriousness that would have been harder to achieve if the style had been closer to Felliniesque carnival.

Ultimately, this is most noticeable in Laura herself and Sheryl Lee's performance. On the series, she was encouraged to playfully present a Laura who was slightly unreal, always filtered through others' perceptions of her (which, of course, works brilliantly for what the show is doing). Seeing her in James' flashback, hearing her coo to Jacoby on those tapes, we are totally unprepared for what the film brings to the table.

Incidentally, responding to this point really got me thinking about how Fire Walk With Me works and is accepted/rejected as a standalone film, but my thoughts started to get OT so I started a new thread here:
http://www.dugpa.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2892

Immediately after the Bob/Leland/Laura bedroom scene, we go to a scene in which the family is sitting at the breakfast table. Laura can't even eat, and her mother knows that something is horribly wrong. Before leaving for school, Laura gives her father the "Stay away from me" ultimatum. Then we see her at school, her day passing by in a blur. When I watch those scenes, boy, those are really powerful and hit hard. I don't know if Lynch had someone advising him or what, but those scenes are very, very poignant and capture the victim's emotional state succinctly.


Agreed completely - that's one of my favorite sequences and it's really the culmination of the "realistic" part of Laura's story (what we get afterwards has more to do with setting up & delivering on Laura's internal spiritual struggle). And I think Sarah Palmer is presented just so perfectly, limited as Zabriskie's role is. What we see both ties into the series (her nervousness, vague sense of what's going on without putting her finger on it) and works on its own as an all-too-true portrait of the mother who knows but doesn't really want to know and isn't even sure what to do with that knowledge.

There's a pretty upsetting story I've heard - I think it was the former Miss America who revealed that she was a survivor of incest - about the daughter hearing her mother's footsteps outside in the hallway, pausing near the bedroom, and then turning around and walking in the other direction. Sadly, I've heard many others like that too. The Palmer family denial is captured so perfectly in that breakfast sequence. Also the "wash your hands" scene when Laura shoots her mother a horrified look and Sarah finally speaks up, hesitantly and uncertainly, as if trying to reason with Leland's irrational fury but is only able to stop him - temporarily - with a scream (and then a look of baleful concern when he torments Laura again from a seated position). Zabriskie and Lynch really nail this aspect of Laura's home life.
Dalai Cooper
Posts: 385
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:15 am

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby Dalai Cooper » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:30 pm

yeah sarah's awareness of/complicity in the abuse is def there in the series (as early as the "WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS HOUSE" stuff in s1) but the film really spells it out, doesn't let you look away
Dalai Cooper
Posts: 385
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:15 am

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby Dalai Cooper » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:31 pm

like no amount of mickey finn'd milk and white horses accounts for the hand-washing scene
User avatar
LostInTheMovies
Posts: 1558
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:48 pm

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby LostInTheMovies » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:55 pm

WILDSTYLE wrote:My reaction is in the form of a mixtape.
http://www.mediafire.com/download/rk4km ... eet_17.zip


Having trouble downloading, sadly. Can you provide a track listing (and/or another method of listening)?
MasterMastermind
Posts: 119
Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:17 pm

Re: The Laura Palmer Project

Postby MasterMastermind » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:58 pm

Dalai Cooper wrote:like no amount of mickey finn'd milk and white horses accounts for the hand-washing scene


Plus, the scene of her drinking the milk was so powerful. So much resignation and evasion.

Return to “Twin Peaks Movie, TV, Books”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ManBehindWinkies and 28 guests