A man goes to sleep, and has a dream of a room shrouded in red. What does it mean? Who is this man, this eccentric detective, and how should we understand him and the world he operates in? Twin Peaks famously leaves many of its odder moments open to interpretation, and if you’re not attuned to its wavelength you might find even its more straightforward character beats difficult to process. Watching David Lynch’s work if you haven’t done so before can feel a bit like being dropped into Dante’s vision of hell without a Virgil to guide you.
I’m not saying Joel Bocco, who operates under the name Lost in the Movies, is a Lynchian Virgil, but he does make good video essays. In particular, he’s the creator of the hypnotic, lengthy, and informative “Journey Through Twin Peaks” series, which sets itself up as a guide into the world of Twin Peaks, from one element to the next.
It begins with the original two seasons, folding in details about tie-in novels, the TV and critical environment of the early ‘90s, alongside biographical and critical insights into creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, before moving forward into Fire Walk With Me, the much-maligned-but-actually-amazing prequel film and now, starting last month, into the third, revived season of the show. The original parts of the series were made in 2014, uploaded to YouTube the next year, written and produced in anticipation of the third season, and now Bocco is back to work writing looking back at it for the 30th anniversary of the show’s pilot episode. When he’s done, a finale planned for sometime this summer, it’ll be a six-part, nearly 40 episode examination of Twin Peaks and its supplementary materials from beginning to end.
Confession: This video series is what got me into Twin Peaks, and from there into David Lynch more generally. Bocco produces good videos, and they’re compelling even if you haven’t seen Twin Peaks before, as I hadn’t. When I am not sure if I’m going to like something I often want to have it spoiled for me, to see if there’s going to be anything in there I feel like I want to engage with. This video series convinced me that Twin Peaks was made for me, and pushed me to watch it all the way through.
I know that’s not the normal way people usually experience media, so be warned: there are spoilers all throughout this. But if you’ve seen Twin Peaks and didn’t get it, or want to hear more about it to see what all the fuss is about and you don’t care about spoilers, this is the way to go. I especially like this series because, while it offers interpretations, it never goes into the overly simplistic literalist fandom readings that are so common on YouTube and so hopelessly boring, particularly when applied to weird, dreamlike material like the better parts of Twin Peaks.
Almost as dreamy and entrancing as Twin Peaks itself, but a lot more bite-sized, “Journey Through Twin Peaks” is one of my favorite things to throw on on YouTube when I just need something playing. And now, with it almost complete, it seems silly not to recommend it.
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