Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

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WILDSTYLE
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Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby WILDSTYLE » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:27 pm

I am interested to know what other fans' reaction is to the different ways Coop sees (or doesn't see) Laura, Ronette and Josie, the three "women in trouble" in the town of Twin Peaks who have close connections to BOB.

BOB either causes each woman's death or is involved closely in their deaths. indeed, Cooper himself, a future host of BOB, contributes to the fear that causes Josie's death, just as the BOB-mad Leland kills Laura and tries to kill Ronette. There are deeper connections. All three "walked with fire" and might be compromised by BOB's temptations to some degree- or depending on one's viewpoint, they might be seen as having defiantly resisted BOB's attempts to colonize them, even choosing death over BOB- whether as a conscious choice, or an instinctive matter of conscience, fearing BOB more than death.

In Josie's case, that is clearly true- whereas Laura briefly toyed with becoming a host of BOB herself, Josie seems to have never gone that far (we were never shown evidence of it, anyway) even though she, too, played the ruthless femme fatale, and she too was close to BOB in that she had a childhood history of abuse (and, unlike the well off Laura, desperate poverty). Despite their personal struggles with both human and spiritual torments (which are identified with BOB in the TP universe), even at the cost of their own lives, both Laura and Josie were braver than Coop in rejecting BOB.

This of course, is not the way Coop sees Josie or talks about her in the episode after her death. Coop's divergent responses to Laura and Ronette, and then Josie and Laura, seem to say more about Coop than they do about these women. I want to make clear the purpose of this thread is not to diminish Laura Palmer, neither her courage, or her unique trauma and its place at the absolute center of the world of Twin Peaks, and especially her presence in FWWM or the diary. However, the problem in talking about Ronette or Josie is that neither of them, unlike Laura, ever had their stories told in that way. We never heard anything from their perspective- only from Coop's. And, unlike Laura, neither of them ever elicited any sympathy from Coop. Coop does recognize the exceptional nature of Laura, regarding her as a "worthy victim" whose salvation he must fight for, and indeed, a cosmic soulmate who he communicates with in dreams. Ronette? He doesn't seem to notice her at all. She is simply the not blonde, not model-like girl who got beaten up and has severe brain damage, and whose dad works at the burnt mill. Who cares right? Josie is the dangerous exotic dragon lady, who Coop is proud to say he never trusted (and of course he proved himself right by cornering her). At least we know some things about Josie, filtered through Coop's anti-Josie bias. As for Ronette, we still knew virtually nothing until FWWM- partly because Coop never seemed to care much about her. He at least felt threatened enough by Josie- sexually? racially?- to find her worth paying attention to. But Ronette was just white trash in his eyes. He didn't even bother interviewing her family! Beyond any insensitivity, that was unprofessional- as far as he knew, Ronette might hold the key to the mystery of Laura's killer. (And looking closer at her story may indeed have helped save Maddy.)

We must leave aside Ronette on many questions here, as she didn't die (yet, anyway), but the connections between Laura and Josie- in both life and death- are profound. It's no secret that Laura and Josie were set up to mirror each other as doubles in many respects from the start. There are the similarities in their history of abuse and the fact they once shared- though sadly never on screen- a friendship and even a romantic relationship according to Jen Lynch. Both Laura and Josie's deaths could be (and have been) interpreted in all kinds of ways, but one thing that was common to both was a final revulsion toward BOB so strong that it prevented BOB from possessing them, and either he- or the fear of him (but aren't they the same?)- killed them instead. They differ in this regard from the only other person we see BOB try to possess (besides Leland, who he already does control) in the series- Coop. Coop did not resist BOB with very much strength- ultimately, he welcomed him. Coop's fear of death (his own and others' death) was ultimately greater than his revulsion toward BOB.

If we regard Laura as a heroine because of her brave endurance of suffering and her final refusal to allow BOB in, we must see Josie in a similar light. If, after all, time is cyclical, then the man standing in the doorway was none other than BOB. When BOB taunts Josie, she is in pain and dies, and merges with the furniture most of the writers and directors in this show (though not Lynch) had always seen her as.
Last edited by WILDSTYLE on Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby N. Needleman » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:39 pm

I don't think Cooper didn't have sympathy for Ronette or Josie. I do think he turned on Josie when he became suspicious of who she was.

I talked a lot about how I think Josie fits into Lynch's subset of "women in trouble" over in the Episode 23 thread in the Episodes section - she is a classic noir archetype and her story, however convoluted and at times tedious, follows that arc. I think she's a prime example of a Lynch (anti)heroine caught between light and dark, but unlike other characters, the darkness in the woods swallows her up amidst her deceptions upon deceptions. I think that link to so many of his other characters plays a role in why he focused on her in the opening of the pilot, and why Lynch himself chose to step in and give her character a fate tied into the show's deeper mythos; he had also intended for her to appear in the Red Room in Episode 29, and we all know the stories about Chen possibly being tied into FWWM at one point.

I don't necessarily think Josie was closely linked to BOB - I think her pain and suffering simply became an attractive target for the Black Lodge. You can draw a potential parallel between her tortured history with Eckhardt to Laura and Leland, I suppose, but I didn't get the sense Josie, unlike Laura, resisted the darkness or asserted herself. I think Josie's life and survival was built on so many lies, the one she told others and herself, that she no longer knew her way in or out, and that's why she became lost, in her own sins and (like Cooper) her own history. And that's when the Red Room takes her away.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby LostInTheMovies » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:01 am

WILDSTYLE wrote:I am interested to know what other fans' reaction is to the different ways Coop sees (or doesn't see) Laura, Ronette and Josie, the three "women in trouble" who have close connections to BOB.

...


Many great points. This really makes me feel all the more what a wasted opportunity Josie was (she opens Twin Peaks, for Pete's sake - no pun intended) and hope that Lynch finally gets the chance to do her character justice in 2016. Josie may or may not be a victim of Bob, but she was certainly a victim of the show itself! No wonder Lynch put the character in a drawer (pull), as if for safekeeping.

I'm not sure I would be quite so tough on Cooper (hey, maybe he followed up with Ronette's parents offscreen - although it's also worth noting he never speaks to Maddy either, that we see!). And he does get some scenes with Ronette in season 2. But in general yeah, it's hard to argue that he (and the whole town) seem totally focused on Laura. The neglect of Maddy after she's dead - neither Leland nor Sarah even mention her! - is particularly egregious. The Ronette comparison is particularly interesting for the reasons you mention: Laura is wholesome-looking, well-off, popular, and conveniently dead while Ronette's background, appearance and continued suffering make her less convenient a focus for everyone else.

Which makes it all the more effective that Laura DOES ultimately seem to see Ronette as someone important and worth caring about (admittedly after associating her Ronette with her own darkness/corruption - but then this is also the moment where Laura realizes she herself is worth caring about). Indeed, arguably the only reason we even meet Ronette at all is because Laura saw her in this light.

Ronette has become a character who really fascinates me, especially for the role she played in Fire Walk With Me. She seems to have interested Lynch quite a bit as well. Take a look at episode 1 - the girl shown in the window behind the Pulaskis as Hawk interviews them is not Phoebe Augustine. Which suggests that Ronette's purpose had been served in the pilot and they didn't even bother to fly the actress down to L.A.; her part was over and she was to be forgotten.

Except that then Lynch brings her back in the season 2 premiere and she becomes an integral part of the story again for a few episodes. Then she is further forgotten (presumed to be convalescing in the hospital interminably, her survival unresolved) until Lynch re-introduces her in the finale, looking clean-cut and healthy, as if to finally resolve her arc (while simultaneously reminding the audience of Laura's trauma). And then of course he makes her a key element of Fire Walk With Me not only in the inevitable cabin/train car sequence but in the Pink Room and Teresa's motel, where she is established as the projection of Laura's "bad side" just as Donna is the projection of her "good side". Note also that Ronette tries to help Laura when she is screaming in the cabin, before Leo restrains her - a parallel to Laura saving Donna in the Pink Room and an action which establishes Ronette's good will and gives her brief part extra dimension.

And of course it's my opinion that Laura is the one responsible for Ronette's angel in the train car (without loosening her bonds, Ronette couldn't open the door which may save her and certainly allows Mike to throw the ring in to Laura and seal the deal against Bob).

Yet another reason to say No Lynch No Twin Peaks. He looks harder at the stuff other people take for granted and discovers what's really there.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby MasterMastermind » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:18 am

I'm not sure I agree 100% with your stance on Ronette in that Cooper seemed to care for her when the writers remembered she exists, but it's a fair observation, and you've really brought up some interesting points concerning Josie. I've always liked her more than most fans, but you've ably pointed out there was a lot of untapped potential there.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby Jonatan Silva » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:32 pm

I think most of time Josie is boring.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby Rami Airola » Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:05 pm

Yeah, I always found it sad that Ronette was so neglected in the series. Whenever a scene with her appeared, my interest would spike up very high. I always felt like "please, give me less Packard sawmill shenanigans, and more Ronette Pulaski!"

One of the reasons I love Fire Walk with Me so much, is how it deals with Leland and Ronette too, and not just Laura. Well, Ronette had only a few scenes, but still. This movie is such a powerful story for all criminals struggling with their inner demons and all the poor people who are victims of those criminals. It's heartbreaking to see Leland walking towards the circle of sycamore trees and see the short moment of his soul screaming in pure sadness and torment. That image is, in my opinion, one of the most definitive images of what Twin Peaks is all about. It isn't only Laura who is having a rough time, but also Leland himself is deep down inside extremely broken.

I will talk about Ronette after this quote from LostInTheMovies:

LostInTheMovies wrote:Except that then Lynch brings her back in the season 2 premiere and she becomes an integral part of the story again for a few episodes. Then she is further forgotten (presumed to be convalescing in the hospital interminably, her survival unresolved) until Lynch re-introduces her in the finale, looking clean-cut and healthy, as if to finally resolve her arc (while simultaneously reminding the audience of Laura's trauma). And then of course he makes her a key element of Fire Walk With Me not only in the inevitable cabin/train car sequence but in the Pink Room and Teresa's motel, where she is established as the projection of Laura's "bad side" just as Donna is the projection of her "good side". Note also that Ronette tries to help Laura when she is screaming in the cabin, before Leo restrains her - a parallel to Laura saving Donna in the Pink Room and an action which establishes Ronette's good will and gives her brief part extra dimension.

And of course it's my opinion that Laura is the one responsible for Ronette's angel in the train car (without loosening her bonds, Ronette couldn't open the door which may save her and certainly allows Mike to throw the ring in to Laura and seal the deal against Bob).


First of all, I have to say that there is something I don't quite like in that theory of Laura being responsible for Ronette's angel. I don't quite like the idea that Laura is the center of everything.

When Albert questions Cooper about the next victim, Cooper says she uses drugs, is sexually active and is crying for help. Albert then sarcastically answers to Cooper's rather naive thinking: "that really narrows it down, that's half of the high school girls in America!" (or something like that)
Yes, what Cooper said might be naive, but that is the reality. There are so many people in the world crying for help. Not all are victims of incest, but they all are crying for help deep inside. Some have bigger troubles, some have smaller troubles.

To me, Ronette represents all of the troubled teenagers in the world who are still alive, and still crying for help.

I feel that saying it was Laura who was responsible for Ronette's angel is diminishing Ronette's role in the world quite a lot. I mean, she was a troubled girl, she hung out with wrong people. She might not have been a victim of incest, but she was abused, if not by his parents, then at least by seedy men and women wanting to take advantage of her lust for sex and drugs. There were two equally distressed young women in the train car that night. Not that things done to them or things done by them were the same caliber with each other, but that they both were in the train car, about to be murdered.

We could say that Laura had a rough history with Bob and Leland, and it infact was her own father who was about to kill her now, so of course Laura was in the worse spot. But then again, we could say that because Laura already had this bad history with Bob and Leland and he has known them both for a long time, this all comes in as much bigger surprise and shock to Ronette.

Ronette was raped by Leland (I recall they tell in the series that Ronette was raped by the attacker) - which reminds me that it's a pity they either never filmed or never released the shot described in the script where Leland rapes Ronette while looking at her daughter in the eyes. That's some truly shocking and nasty stuff right there. Then she was dragged to the train car where she witnessed her friend about to get murdered. Now, she ended up seeing her angel, yes, but unlike Laura who is having tears of joy and relief in the presence of her angel in the afterlife, Ronette is left to suffer the trauma this kind of an extremely horrible experience must cause. She might've seen the angel, but does she ever see that angel again? She will have these memories for the rest of her life whereas Laura lives in eternity with her angel.

So, seeing Laura being the one who summons the angel seems to be, at least for me, a thing that dismisses the "worldly" context of the incident.

As Albert noted, half of the girls in America are in trouble. Laura is just one of them. Ronette is one of them too. Imagine seeing FWWM from Ronette's perspective. She lives her life, has an orgy with one young woman and two men. She not being aware of any of their history is surprised to see a third man appear and attacking them. She possibly doesn't have a clue that this has happened because of the history between the attacker and the other girl. She is at the wrong place at the wrong time. She is raped by the attacker, and dragged to the train car. She hasn't got a clue of what's going on, but she is sure that they both are going to get killed very soon. She has a moment of pure regret and repentance. An angel appears! To her surprise she notices her arms are now miraculously untied, and she hears that someone is outside, asking to get in. As she now is able, she opens the door, in hopes to help a saviour to get in. This is the only chance! Her friend is just about to get killed! Can she open the door in time? As soon as she opens the door, she sees the man outside to have only one arm - he's not a police officer and he even wouldn't be able to climb in - and now the attacker comes towards her with (presumably) a hammer in his hand. She is beaten and loses consciousness. When she is awaken, it's morning. It's cold. She's hurt very bad. She has been raped and nearly killed. Her friend has been killed. The memories of the incident crawls in her head, even when in coma, and when she finally awakes, the sheriff comes and forces her to look at the drawing of the terribly scary man who did it. And even much later, when she has recovered a bit, she is made to relive the memories by letting her smell the oil she smelt in that horrible night.

From that perspective, which is nicer: to think that the moment Ronette was able to see that beautiful angel was because of her heartbreaking moment of repentace and that the angel really was her own angel who had listened to her, and that she really had a full interaction with her own real angel, or that after the repentance, the other girl happened to send an angel for her?
Of course it's not about what feels nicer to me, but I think that from the perspective that Ronette represents tormented girls still alive, it is much more meaningful that Ronette was the active force in making the angel appear.

By the way, is Ronette asking for her father or her Father (God) if he's coming to see her if she dies? I remember initially thinking that it was some kind of a prayer for her own father to come to see her grave or something like that, as here in Finland we don't use the word Father as God as much as they use it in (Catholic) America. But as I think of the scene as a scene of repentance deep from her heart, it is much more interesting to think that she is asking for God if he would come to see her after her death. I take it as Ronette not feeling worthy for Heaven, and believing that for sure if she dies now, she won't be where God is, but she is still asking if God would still care to come and even see her for a moment. This feeling of "unworthiness" comes from the fact that she really feels she's dirty, as she directly says so - quite like rape victims see themselves. And because of that, I think the appearance of Ronette's angel is hugely important, and it really is important that it is Ronette's cry that gets a divine response. For people who are still alive and still tormented, it is a beautiful thing to see that their cries really are heard.

So, in my opinion, it is essential to Laura's story, and through that to the whole world of tormented people, that Ronette's effort was a very important thing in that horrible night in the train car.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby LostInTheMovies » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:46 pm

Re: Rami Airola

Great post and really eloquently stated. I see where you're coming from and I actually agree with a lot of what you say. I even think it's quite plausible that this was the intention (although I tend to think there was no specific intention, it was just something that occurred to Lynch as "working" in an intuitive sense and left for us to put together!). And yes, as Ronette's character gets a bit more development and screentime it is nice to see her at the center of the action and not only continue to be a component in someone else's story.

But here's why, even aside from the subtle visual evidence, I prefer to think that Laura is responsible for the angel.

If it's Ronette's prayer that summons the angel, what does that tell us? Essentially, that her shame and guilt are rewarded by divine intervention. I don't particularly like that for a few reasons.

- One, this implicitly suggests that Laura is NOT sufficiently repentant (which doesn't really seem consistent with the film's generally non-victim-blaming tone).

- Two, the arc of the story has not really been about Laura's need for remorse so I'm not sure what Ronette's example would demonstrate. The arc has been about Laura's need to recognize her own worth, her own possibilities, and her father's responsibility for her condition. She doesn't need to embrace shame (which she already feels, too much), she needs to embrace hope. The angel provides this of course, but if it is responding to Ronette's prayer it sends a much more mixed message about what is necessary to "open the door" (literally and figuratively).

- Three, rewarding "I'm so dirty" with an angel doesn't seem consistent with Lynch's spiritual outlook, not only in his life but in his work, in which negativity only breeds more negativity. On the other hand, if Laura's compassion is what triggers the angel, then it recognizes both the sincerity of Ronette's prayer AND the need for something more positive than pure shame. Throughout the film it has been subtly suggested that the characters' psychological states have something to do with when and how the spiritual forces appear and this would be the perfect fulfillment of those hints: Ronette's sorrow triggers Laura's compassion which in turn triggers the angel's grace.

Finally, while Phoebe Augustine gives a really, really underrated performance (in the series and the film) and it's good to see Ronette gain agency (which I think we do see at several points - most notably when she tries to rescue Laura even though Leo prevents her - and of course she is the one who opens the door that lets Laura's ring inside)...this is still Laura's story. If Laura does not bring the angel into the train car then she is reduced to a passive presence/witness once again, not much different than her original role in the screenplay. And the climax of the film passes without a real turning point for her character.

It could be argued that Laura taking the ring is the crucial moment where she becomes an active force (John Thorne says as much) but I'd argue that it doesn't truly play that way. There is no moment of consideration as Laura puts on the ring: the way it is edited feels more like an inevitable conclusion (of what came just before) than a true choice/climax. Instead, the rhythm of the montage (and ESPECIALLY the sound design) seems to me to coalesce at the point when a crying Laura watches Ronette and then - bam! - light flashing, sound drops out, angel appears. The rest of the action follows from this central event and the angel's appearance is the fulcrum of the sequence (and the film, and the saga). If Laura is its audience but not its initiator I think the film is missing something dramatically.

Anyway, that's my personal take. I do love the fact that Lynch created something so powerful yet ambiguous enough that we have to really wrestle with it to come up with the answer that feels right.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby Rami Airola » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:05 am

LostInTheMovies wrote:If it's Ronette's prayer that summons the angel, what does that tell us? Essentially, that her shame and guilt are rewarded by divine intervention.


Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it. I don't think it's necessary a "reward" from being shameful, but it shows that even in times of self-loathing and/or regret there is an angel around.

- One, this implicitly suggests that Laura is NOT sufficiently repentant (which doesn't really seem consistent with the film's generally non-victim-blaming tone).


Well, at that point there seems to be only two options for Laura:
1. Be so corrupted that Bob will possess her.
2. Die.

It would seem to be that at that point of her life, she IS beyond redemption. She either dies or becomes the host of evil.
That's very bleak. But the movie ends up telling that even after death, there is hope. And at the very least Laura has the capability to end the circle of violence and abuse in her part. And of course, Laura's story didn't end there. It continued in the lives of people who knew her.

- Two, the arc of the story has not really been about Laura's need for remorse so I'm not sure what Ronette's example would demonstrate. The arc has been about Laura's need to recognize her own worth, her own possibilities, and her father's responsibility for her condition. She doesn't need to embrace shame (which she already feels, too much), she needs to embrace hope. The angel provides this of course, but if it is responding to Ronette's prayer it sends a much more mixed message about what is necessary to "open the door" (literally and figuratively).


I'm not sure if David cares about story arcs.

I think shame isn't mutually exclusive with hope.
I think we shouldn't shame the sense of shame. Shame is a genuine human emotion.

- Three, rewarding "I'm so dirty" with an angel doesn't seem consistent with Lynch's spiritual outlook, not only in his life but in his work, in which negativity only breeds more negativity. On the other hand, if Laura's compassion is what triggers the angel, then it recognizes both the sincerity of Ronette's prayer AND the need for something more positive than pure shame. Throughout the film it has been subtly suggested that the characters' psychological states have something to do with when and how the spiritual forces appear and this would be the perfect fulfillment of those hints: Ronette's sorrow triggers Laura's compassion which in turn triggers the angel's grace.


As I said above, I don't think it's a reward. I don't quite understand why the feeling of dirtiness is only a negative thing. For some people, it might be the most extreme thing that purifies. What I get from Laura in the whole story of Twin Peaks (including the diary) is that Laura has several moments when she feels to be "dirty" but she starts to embrace that feeling. She ends up loving to be dirty. If she doubts her lifestyle because she feels dirty, she soon forgets that and continues doing what she does. This is something people in real life do too.

Also, the feeling of dirtiness is not necessarily a bad thing. I don't quite get why people in general tend to think that being ashamed and regretful is absolutely a negative thing. As a very mild example of "negativity" as an empowering force is David Lynch regretting and possibly being ashamed of the way he did Dune. He has been part of something he didn't feel was where his heart were at. But he learned from it.

The biggest thing Ronette said wasn't that she feels dirty. The biggest thing was "I'm sorry."

Now, it would be awful to say that a victim of abuse should be ashamed or sorry of something. But if someone is a victim, and he has lived a life where he has caused tons of trouble to lots of people and has done things he wouldn't want to do, but has enjoyed doing, then if he feels ashamed, I think it wouldn't be a good thing to go and say this feeling of shame for those things is a bad thing. Of course if it's all about being ashamed of something someone else has done to him, then it's not good at all. But you really can't put the blame of future bad actions to what has been done to you. Sometimes shame is the most powerful thing that makes one understand that the bad things one has done really are bad, and it's something that needs to be felt to be able to stop it.

Finally, while Phoebe Augustine gives a really, really underrated performance (in the series and the film) and it's good to see Ronette gain agency (which I think we do see at several points - most notably when she tries to rescue Laura even though Leo prevents her - and of course she is the one who opens the door that lets Laura's ring inside)...this is still Laura's story. If Laura does not bring the angel into the train car then she is reduced to a passive presence/witness once again, not much different than her original role in the screenplay. And the climax of the film passes without a real turning point for her character.


Again, I don't think David has that big of an interest in whose story he is telling. I think he shows tons of compassion and understanding to the minor characters too. This thing about "passive presence" is a thing that critics and essayists endorse. It's not necessarily a real thing at all, or something one is "reduced" into. Sure, Laura is the center of the story of Twin Peaks, but as much as it means that Laura has been affected by people, it means that people have been affected by Laura. It ties a town full of people to her and to each other. And each individual ties people to their lives just as Laura does. It makes even the smaller things the less relevant people have done, relevant. It doesn't have to be Laura who has the biggest turns in events, as all the other people count too.

It could be argued that Laura taking the ring is the crucial moment where she becomes an active force (John Thorne says as much) but I'd argue that it doesn't truly play that way. There is no moment of consideration as Laura puts on the ring: the way it is edited feels more like an inevitable conclusion (of what came just before) than a true choice/climax. Instead, the rhythm of the montage (and ESPECIALLY the sound design) seems to me to coalesce at the point when a crying Laura watches Ronette and then - bam! - light flashing, sound drops out, angel appears. The rest of the action follows from this central event and the angel's appearance is the fulcrum of the sequence (and the film, and the saga). If Laura is its audience but not its initiator I think the film is missing something dramatically.


It's not unusual in Twin Peaks that a person who is sensitive to the otherwordly things would sense something happening before it actually happens. There are situations in the series where this ominous light appears before anything else. I feel that the expression in Laura's face and the lighting shows Laura realizing the moment. She sees Ronette's remorseful cry, and senses something odd is happening.

Maybe we could even see the situation as Laura now truly understanding that there is no way out. She understands she doesn't have what Ronette has to get rid of Bob. She is too deep in the rabbit hole to ever get out without turning into Bob. She already embraces the "Bob-lifestyle" so much that either her cries for help wouldn't help or she even wouldn't be able to cry for help anymore. There she makes the final choice to die. Now, maybe the sight of a real angel gave her an ounce of hope that after death things could be positively different, and that helped to make that final choice. After all, the only other resolution to this situation is to become Bob.

I personally think the whole situation is less dramatical the more Laura shows activity. It also makes the final scene of Laura finally seeing her own angel less powerful. To see Laura very hopeless in a situation out of control and where her subconscious intuition, at most, makes her grab that ring, firstly lets the tragic murder be tragic. It lets a horrible situation be horrible. And then after all that hopelessness, to see her cry for joy when she sees her angel, it's something extremely powerful.

Anyway, that's my personal take. I do love the fact that Lynch created something so powerful yet ambiguous enough that we have to really wrestle with it to come up with the answer that feels right.


Definitely!
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby LostInTheMovies » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:33 am

Re: Rami Airola,

I wouldn't say that Ronette feeling shame is a BAD thing. I'd say that ONLY feeling shame is too limited to open the door. Diane Selwyn feels shame, and it's a start but one can't stop at shame in Lynch's world if one is to realize the beauty of what lies beyond. I agree that negative feelings have probably been a positive force in Lynch's life. But I'm not sure he agrees or that it is an ethos he would seek to express in his movies.

As for not caring about arcs, maybe not consciously, but Lynch, however unconventionally, is a storyteller and a dramatist. All of his films take characters on a journey in which they realize something about themselves, through a combination of personal choice and outside intervention. Laura is ashamed from the first time we see her - it's almost her defining emotion. Necessary as it might be, it is not something she needs to learn. What she does need to do, the film hints over and over, is break out of her sense of powerlessness and limitations and denial.

I know most people see her as choosing death in the end. I did for a while too but I don't anymore. I think Bob chooses death (for her), because of a choice she makes for something else. I think the significance of the ring throughout the film is tied to acknowledgement/recognition of evil, resistance to the smothering power of Leland, and acceptance rather than avoidance of painful knowledge (usually trauma-related). Cooper (or his good side anyway), who has failed this test himself, tells her not to take it. Teresa is not wearing the ring when she is killed but she is wearing it when she realizes who Leland is. Mike/the Little Man wields it when exposing Bob or showing her the Red Room, a space beyond her suffering. I think death is, at best, a secondary result (if that) of taking the ring and that's because Bob can now ONLY win physically having lost spiritually.

Is this subjective? Yes! Is it possible Lynch had something else in mind entirely? Absolutely. But for me, the climax becomes much less effective any other way (in fact for a while the train car scene felt like a letdown to me, though I could kind of sense there was something more there, a disappointing finish to a great movie). I would still love Fire Walk With Me because it is such a powerful cinematic experience but as a complete story in its own right and especially as a culmination of the cycle (something it was admittedly not meant to be - or maybe it was, depending which contradictory Lynch/Engels comments we close to believe!) the climax would fall short to me. Maybe I'll feel differently after 2016!
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby LostInTheMovies » Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:06 am

Oh and good point about Ronette's prayer. I think it has double meaning - the prayer is referring to God as "Father" (that language is especially common in Catholocism and Ronette's last name - and the Access Guide! - suggest she is Catholic) but Lynch is using the coincidental language to highlight the fact that Laura's father is the one tormenting her. Laura could never use the words of her friend's prayer.

Anyway, it would be really cool to catch up with Ronette in the new series. I have a hunch we will. Someone even suggested her and the Log Lady having a bond. I don't know why exactly but I could see that too.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby Rami Airola » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:50 am

LostInTheMovies wrote:I wouldn't say that Ronette feeling shame is a BAD thing. I'd say that ONLY feeling shame is too limited to open the door. Diane Selwyn feels shame, and it's a start but one can't stop at shame in Lynch's world if one is to realize the beauty of what lies beyond. I agree that negative feelings have probably been a positive force in Lynch's life. But I'm not sure he agrees or that it is an ethos he would seek to express in his movies.


I think there were several other things going on that just shame.
I think all four(?) things Ronette says, has a different deeper meaning.

"Father, if I die now, will you come and see me?"
"Look at me."
"I'm so dirty."
"I'm sorry."


As usual, I can't really find the words on what deep meanings these lines hold, but I have a great sense of tons of different stuff going on inside Ronette.

Well, no matter what these lines mean, Phoebe did fantastic work there. I just listened through that scene without watching it at all, and oh my god, those lines are horrifying to listen to when you only focus on what she says and how she says it.



What comes to Mulholland Drive and Fire Walk with Me, I think that the ultimate change in the main character in both movies comes only after or during the moment of death. In Mulholland Drive she commits a suicide, and we see filled with joy after her death. In Fire Walk with Me, Laura is STILL seen to be sad after she has died, or at least to me her expression is very melancholic, but after she sees her angel, she starts to feel joy. To me, both movies are about people whose troubles have grown way too big for them to handle. The troubles and distress are so big that the only way for them is to either allow themselves to be killed or to actually commit a suicide.

A pessimist could see the message as pro-suicide, that everything is "better" after you've died. But I don't think that's the case at all. I think that David wants to show compassion for both moral and immoral people, and for both dead and alive. He offers hope for those who are still alive, and for the families of those who have had to encounter a tragic loss of their loved ones.

As for not caring about arcs, maybe not consciously, but Lynch, however unconventionally, is a storyteller and a dramatist. All of his films take characters on a journey in which they realize something about themselves, through a combination of personal choice and outside intervention. Laura is ashamed from the first time we see her - it's almost her defining emotion. Necessary as it might be, it is not something she needs to learn. What she does need to do, the film hints over and over, is break out of her sense of powerlessness and limitations and denial.


Why would she need to realize exactly that? To be true to a cinematic character arc?

I know most people see her as choosing death in the end. I did for a while too but I don't anymore. I think Bob chooses death (for her), because of a choice she makes for something else. I think the significance of the ring throughout the film is tied to acknowledgement/recognition of evil, resistance to the smothering power of Leland, and acceptance rather than avoidance of painful knowledge (usually trauma-related). Cooper (or his good side anyway), who has failed this test himself, tells her not to take it. Teresa is not wearing the ring when she is killed but she is wearing it when she realizes who Leland is. Mike/the Little Man wields it when exposing Bob or showing her the Red Room, a space beyond her suffering. I think death is, at best, a secondary result (if that) of taking the ring and that's because Bob can now ONLY win physically having lost spiritually.


In the series it was said that she allowed herself to be killed. In her diary it reads "tonight is the night that I die."
Maybe saying she chose death is wrong, but she definitely allowed it to happen. She knew it will happen. In her mind the only thing possible, to get rid of Bob, is to allow herself to die. Surely the person who has decided to kill, is the only one truly responsible for the killing, but in this case it's sort of a "Sophie's choice", where there are two options and both are equally bad but has to be done, except of course here the choices really weren't equally bad, but really really bad. She made the less bad choice for her, as she thought continuing living would be worse (as revealed in the series when Donna read's Laura's secret diary to Cooper).

Is this subjective? Yes! Is it possible Lynch had something else in mind entirely? Absolutely. But for me, the climax becomes much less effective any other way (in fact for a while the train car scene felt like a letdown to me, though I could kind of sense there was something more there, a disappointing finish to a great movie). I would still love Fire Walk With Me because it is such a powerful cinematic experience but as a complete story in its own right and especially as a culmination of the cycle (something it was admittedly not meant to be - or maybe it was, depending which contradictory Lynch/Engels comments we close to believe!) the climax would fall short to me. Maybe I'll feel differently after 2016!


Yeah, I think the train car scene isn't as good as it could be. I think it's absolutely fantastic until the actual moment of murder happens. I think the choices for music and images just aren't that effective, especially when compared to the murder flashback in the series. The music goes overboard and the very short images aren't as powerful as they could be. It kinda doesn't live up to what the scene has been building. The quick images of Laura screaming and Bob killing were much more rough and brutal than what we got in the movie. It's not a bad moment, not at all, but for the central moment where Twin Peaks as a whole was leading up to and going further from, it's a bit of a disappointment.

For me, the thought of Laura being the one who summons the angel just doesn't feel as powerful. I feel there should be something else shown either earlier in the film or in that moment, that it could give me the same feeling of effectiviness that it gives to you. It's kinda like when I'm reading the script for the movie and there is the moment written where Laura demands Leland to kill her and yells at the Bob-reflection "No, you can't have me!". If that was there, I think it would lessen my liking of the scene a lot. It would have an impact on what has happened earlier and what is about to happen. I'm glad it was never put in the final film (if it even was shot at all). Kinda like that, I feel that Laura summoning the angel makes the situation as something that would lessen the value of what has happened just a moment ago and lessens the value of what is about to happen.

But then again, I understand that you feel exactly the same but in opposite way.

Maybe I'm against this theory, and also against the theory brought out in Wrapped in Plastic magazine where it was suggested that the first half hour of the movie is Cooper's dream, because it has come up pretty much as a result of feeling there is something faulty in the scene and thinking of a theory that would make it feel better. In the "Cooper's dream" theory the writer quite clearly said he felt the first half hour doesn't make any sense and is pretty bad as such, and this theory would make it much better. There is just something odd in a theory that is there to make the theorist feel less uneasy about the possible faults of the film.

Now, maybe I'm off with my thoughts on what has caused you to bring up this theory. Maybe it's just a lucky accident that a thought that has come up to your mind happens to make the climax better. And, heck, even if it isn't, I'm sure I have made theories and reasonings based on the same exact thing I'm now blaming you and the writer of the "Cooper's theory" of :D So I kinda feel bad for even thinking about it. Who the hell am I to judge the hidden meaning of theories and the intentions of theorists! :D

And maybe your theory in fact was exactly what David intended with it, who knows. No matter what the truth is and no matter what I like, it's still tons of fun to read about theories like that and toy around with them a bit.
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Re: Josie, Laura & Ronette: women in trouble

Postby LostInTheMovies » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:23 pm

Well no, I would definitely say a sense of dissatisfaction with the ending pushed me toward that theory, so that's a fair assumption! However I would say it isn't ONLY the sense of dissatisfaction. It's also a feeling that the ending isn't really consistent with the rest of the film or with Lynch's general outlook. And most importantly, recognizing evidence in the film itself that leads me toward this conclusion. So it's a combination of factors but yes, I will definitely admit that dissatisfaction with the other interpretations contributed!

It's funny you mention Wrapped in Plastic because one of the crucial ingredients in my own conclusion was reading John Thorne's take on the ending of FWWM (which is somewhat different from my own). It arose from a similar source as his Deer Meadow theory: that something didn't quite land about that scene in the train car on a surface level, and yet there were subtle clues that something deeper was happening. And in both cases, you have very specific practical reasons for the compromised nature of what we see: in the first, Kyle MacLachlan backed out of the Teresa Banks investigation, in the second Laura, the story's heroine, had to be murdered to set the TV series in motion.

John's theory was that, inspired by the angel, Laura "steals" the ring from the Lodge creatures. I can't quite get in board with this for several reasons: it essentially puts Bob and Mike on he same side which I don't accept, I don't believe that the ring is "bad" (despite Cooper's warning), I DO think Mike throws the ring into the car, and most importantly I just don't see enough clues to accept that this is supposed to be what happens. Laura seems to receive the ring rather than steal it. However, a lot of things about John's essay really intrigued me and got me thinking.

The real "aha!" moment occurred when he described Donna and Ronette as doppelgängers, essentially correspondences for Laura's perceptions of her innocent and corrupted sides. I started thinking about all the times they are linked in the movie. He mentions the transitions inside the Pink Room but it also occurred to me that Leland sees his flash of Laura and Ronette while looking at Laura and Donna in the living room. And I started thinking about the parallels in the two characters' appearances and actions and storylines.

Donna's part of the story effectively climax when Laura leaps to Donna's rescue in the Pink Room. I had long seen this as a crucial sign that deep down, despite her feelings of resignation, Laura was still resisting Bob on an instinctive, emotional level. Where does Ronette's arc climax? Obviously when she is rescued by the angel in the train car, just as Donna was rescued in the Pink Room. In both cases, the rescue is preceded by a close-up of Laura's face, staring intensely at her friend's condition, with light flickering. The two moments were clearly very symmetrical in presentation and it seemed reasonable to suspect a a similar purpose between them: one presented at face-value, the other (as Lynch likes to do) more mysteriously and intuitively. And that's how my theory was born.

Now that's my take and it's obviously open to interpretation, requiring a bit of a leap of faith if you will. Nothing in the film contradicts it, but nothing in the film confirms it either. On the other hand, I really feel the idea the ring brings death simply isn't borne out by the movie! The two main reasons it seems to be accepted are that Teresa wore the ring and she is associated with death throughout the film (indeed she is killed in the very first scene) and that Laura takes it just seconds before she dies (in screentime if probably not real time). But look closely and there really isn't much else to associate the ring with death during its numerous appearances (Teresa does NOT wear the ring when she is killed). Instead it is most routinely associated with knowledge - specifically knowlege of Leland's crimes (and hence, his possession by Bob).

Chet searches for it as he fumbles through the perplexing Teresa Banks case (and touches it only when he disappears from the narrative). It is revealed on Teresa's finger when she realizes who Leland is (and is concealed when she doesn't - "Who am I?" "I don't know!"), shown in flashback montage as Laura ponders "Who are you?", waved in Laura's face while Mike screams "it's your father!", and presented to her in the Red Room dream, which offers her passage into a place beyond her earthly trap (note that Leland, even with his good side ascendency, closes the door on Laura just befor she places the open door on the wall), following her question "Is it true?" I think the ring serves a lot of other purposes as well but death is really the least of it. Hence, when she takes the ring at the end I really don't feel "choosing death" is the primary significance of the gesture.

As for why its important for Laura to realize her essential freedom to fulfill a true character arc, it's because otherwise she does not go anywhere. She is the same at the end of the film (spiritually if not physically) as at the beginning. I can't think of any other Lynch film with that sense of static characterization and I don't see why FWWM, focused on the character he arguably cared most about in all his work, should be the lone exception EXCEPT that Laura's original role (in the series) was not to be a character who grows but a character who spurs growth/revelation in others. She is, as David Fister Wallace put it (in the essay that spurred John Thorne's) an object rather than a subject.

This is the central challenge Lynch faced in making a film about Laura Palmer and I would like to think he overcame it (in my eyes, he did). But if he didn't, yes, I would consider that a failure in the film's part. Actually to be fair he DID overcome it in part, because the central narrative arc is Laura's investigation of who Bob really is (and hence her discovery that Leland is abusing her). But the film continued long after this point is reached. Why? What is left for her had yet to do, except die? This is the reason the film's ending dissatisfied me at first and why I feel my interpretation makes it stronger.

Anyway, that's my long-winded response! Hope you are enjoying this as much as I am. This is why I love dugpa so much...
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby WILDSTYLE » Thu May 07, 2015 7:32 am

ps. if we're going to go off-topic, the movie Tian yu (released here in the States as Xiu Xiu the Sent Down Girl) which was directed and co-written by Joan Chen and filmed illegally under difficult circumstances in Tibet, is not only a masterpiece, but especially interesting (required, really) viewing for Twin Peaks fans, as it shows Chen as an artist in her other work being inspired by FWWM (although I have not read critics saying that, it is probably because most critics at that time- late '90s- had avoided seeing FWWM) even while telling a story linked to her own personal experiences in China growing up in the Cultural Revolution. Chen does not appear on screen in Xiu Xiu (which will be applauded by the many who feel her Twin Peaks performance is somehow artistically inferior to Madchen serving pie or Sherilyn playing with a cherry) but the young female title character and her intensely beautiful and harrowing subjectivity, which Chen explores as the filmmaker, turns out to be what the network or fan expectations never allowed Chen's Twin Peaks character to be, although Lynch and Frost had apparently intended her to be: a mirror of Laura Palmer.
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby N. Needleman » Thu May 07, 2015 10:15 am

I like talking about Josie too but I don't think anyone's trying to hijack your discussion. Threads have their own organic rhythms, they go all over the map because of the way people's minds work - especially TP fans.
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Re: Josie, Ronette & Laura: fire walking women

Postby LostInTheMovies » Thu May 07, 2015 3:09 pm

Conversation about Teresa & Annie moved to another thread: http://www.dugpa.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2911

(This comment has been edited twice)
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