Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)

Twin Peaks : The Return

ICYMI, Film Twitter has been getting itself in a bit of a tizzy over the past couple of days about David Lynch’s return to TV… film… TVfilm!TV!!FIL— you get the idea.

So, respected British film magazine Sight & Sound went and named Twin Peaks: The Return as the second best film of 2017. Except it’s a little more complicated than that, in the sense that their list is voted for (i.e. no one person or team specifically decided to place Peaks at #2) and that voters were expressly told they could include TV series, or indeed any other form of visual art (although Peaks was the only non-film to make the top ten, Sight & Sound have since tweeted a list of music videos, computer games, and other such things, that also received votes).

Some people seemed to find the very notion of counting Twin Peaks’ third season as a film to be personally offensive. It must’ve been like rubbing salt in the wound when respected French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma went and ranked it 1st on their list.

Happy times in Twin Peaks

Many digital column inches have been spun out of this, naturally. Two of the more interesting / accurate ones I’ve read are Matt Zoller Seitz’s 25-tweet thread/rant and Vadim Rizov’s kinda rebuttal at Filmmaker Magazine. For my part, it’s nine years almost to the day (just one day short!) since I wrote this piece on the TV vs. film shebang, albeit from a slightly different tack (TV movies vs. ‘real’ movies). My main point was that it’s a kinda arbitrary distinction nowadays. That’s only become more the case in the almost-decade since.

Similarly, I think most of the handwringing over Peaks’ inclusion in these lists has been stupid. As I said, Sight & Sound specifically okayed the inclusion of TV — The Return wasn’t singled out as “yeah, it’s TV, but it’s so good we’ll count it as a film”, a notion that’s been projected on this news by some commentators (mainly TV critics) so they can then take great offence at it. But if Sight & Sound’s voters had considered any other season of 2017 TV to be worthy of inclusion, it had just as much chance of making it in. I don’t know what Cahiers’ rules were, but I’m going to assume they were similar — and they’ve included TV before (of all things, the first season of 24 made their top ten back in 2002).

Personally, I’m not really sure where I come down on the issue of Twin Peaks: The Return in particular. I mean, it’s definitely a TV series, isn’t it? But it’s also virtually an 18-hour movie, isn’t it? Can it be both? Why can’t it be both? As I said, I kind of err towards the broad position of “why differentiate?” As someone put it in a comment I saw somewhere else, it’s all linear non-interactive visual media. Still, I probably won’t be including it in my own year-end best-of list, but is that because I don’t think it should be on a movie best-of list or because I wasn’t wholly convinced/entertained by it as a work?


And if you were wondering what I did think of it in more detail, here are all the posts I reviewed it in while it was airing:

2 thoughts on “Twin Peaks: The Return (2017)

  1. Have you gotten hold of the bluray? I watched some of the first episode last night and it looks bloody brilliant & much better than the Sky broadcast looked over my in-laws. Gorgeous. The extras look pretty stonking too- a ten minute perusal of the fly on the wall documentary turned into a fascinating hour and I had to tear myself away from it.

    As for films vs TV, Hollywood cinema lost that argument years ago by going the bubblegum blockbuster route whilst TV shows like The Wire quietly aired. HBO/Netflix etc have kicked cinema into the curb the past few years so it’s a pretty redundant argument now. Fair play Sight & Sound flagging it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did pick it up, though it’s still sealed right now. I’m intending to dig in to the special features, though who knows how much they’ll reveal — a lot about process and little about meaning, I suspect. And there’s so many of them that I’m not sure when I’ll make time.

      It’s interesting how much film and TV are moving towards each other. Game of Thrones must cost the same per hour as a lower-end blockbuster, and could certainly hold its own on the big screen. Meanwhile, film series like the MCU and Fast & Furious are essentially producing TV series with extra-long episodes and spread out releases. Heck, Transformers even hired a writers’ room for its fifth and future movies, a completely TV-derived method of production.

      I think Sight & Sound are definitely the ones going in the right direction (apparently TV series have been eligible for years, they’ve just not had one get enough votes before), but maybe the list needs a name that isn’t “best film” so people get the point.


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