Twin Peaks: White Knight in a Dark Wood

While 90s groundbreaking television series Twin Peaks doesn’t exactly fit the normal conception of Noir cinema, it certainly has a number of noir elements, despite the northwest small town setting: we might call it noir-west small town, given how little time is spent in the series establishing that no matter how dark the woods are at the edges of the town of Twin Peaks, it’s no match for the hearts of the people who live there. For the neophyte, Twin Peaks chronicles the investigation into the murder of Laura Palmer, the homecoming queen, whose dead body is found at the edge of a lake, naked and wrapped in plastic. The show was one part soap opera, one part crime story, and one part writer-Mark-Frost-mysticism plus director-David-Lynch-weird. Take The X-Files, Lost, and Desperate Housewives, mix well, and wrap in an enigma, and you’re getting close to the town limits of Twin Peaks.

Most people think “hardboiled” when they think Noir cinema. Yet French critics Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton identified five elements of noir cinema in their work, A Panorama of Film Noir. Among those elements were oneiric (dream-like) and strange. And Twin Peaks was certainly strange and dreamlike, not leastwise due to the prophetic dream-visions of Agent Dale Cooper, the FBI agent sent to investigate Laura Palmer’s murder: dreams that included dialogue spoken backwards, a dancing-dwarf, and a giant hiding in the body of frail old bellhop.

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