When Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the prequel film to the cult ABC TV series, was released back in 1992 it was met with considerable backlash. Critics didn’t understand it, fans were perplexed by it, and the film was reportedly so negatively received it was booed at the Cannes Film Festival.
It’s not hard to see why the film would have been booed. Fire Walk With Me is a hard-to-decipher story about a father who brutally rapes and murders his daughter. There are also scenes that seem to add nothing to the story, like Laura Palmer shouting, “I’m the muffin!” or an opening 30 minutes featuring two federal agents that seemingly have no connection to the Laura plot.
The film only managed to make $4.1 million domestically on a $10 million budget. For years afterward, Fire Walk With Me’s negative reception at Cannes was forever linked to its history. Retrospectives on the film usually mention it within the first paragraph. The booing at Cannes became the ultimate sign, at least for die-hard Twin Peaks fans, that Fire Walk With Me was misunderstood and far ahead of its time.
But what if it was actually never booed at Cannes?
According to the films co-writer, Robert Engeles, the story is totally untrue. Speaking to The Blue Rose Magazine, he remembers,
“I was there (at Cannes); it didn’t happen. I was sitting with Mary Sweeney (the film’s editor) and David Lynch. The audience didn’t boo. You remember when people hate what you wrote.”
He further upends the long held myth when he recalls the after party for the film at Cannes.
“There was a big party near the water. In the middle of the party, a boat pulled up, and all these fireworks went off from the boat spelling out “Fire Walk With Me”. People went nuts. I didn’t have the sense at all that people didn’t like it.”
While this doesn’t change how Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me performed financially and with critics in general, it does at least address one of the long standing myths about the film.
Now when fans defend Fire Walk With Me, they don’t have to reach to the oft-repeated Cannes story. Now they can focus their attention on the viewers who, in their eyes, didn’t give the film a fair shot.
Shamus Kelley is the muffin. Follow him on Twitter!