Having been a massive Twin Peaks and David Lynch fan since when the first season aired back in 1990, the recent return of Twin Peaks has been a satisfying and excellent piece of television art, with so many themes that I’m sure many articles, books and academic papers will be written about it in years to come. For me however, the Twin Peaks story ignites an obvious recognition of occult themes, some of which I touched upon in a recent article. One particular aspect of Twin Peaks that I found interesting were the parallels with The Wizard of Oz, something Lynch has conveyed before in his film Wild at Heart, a film that also portrayed a journey and one that featured a number of Twin Peaks actresses.
The surrealist imagery that Lynch used such as the steaming ‘kettle’ that was Phillip Jeffries, played by the late David Bowie in the film Fire Walk with Me, can be paralleled with the translucent image of the Wizard made by a machine – the cinematic images portraying an ethereal and arcane all-knowing figure who guides both the evil and good Cooper on their way. This imagery is compounded with the use of orbs in Twin Peaks to portray the evil Bob character and the goodness of Laura Palmer, especially in episode 8 of The Return, and with the orbs seen in the Wizard of Oz. The ethereal beings are free visually to move around on film in a magical way, the good and evil orb being projected by the use of colour – the gold for good and dark for evil. The use of colour film and black and white film is also used in The Return in a similar way to The Wizard of Oz, the contrast being especially used to portray different ‘dimensions’. The imagery of red shoes also appears in Twin Peaks, reminding one of the ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz. The references to Judy and Garland Briggs in Twin Peaks also hints at an influence from the classic film, as does the use of the vortex to enter the different worlds.
The author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum, was a Theosophist, Theosophy being an esoteric tradition that concerns the mysteries of life and nature, the nature of Divinity and that hidden knowledge is the secret to understanding the path of enlightenment. Theosophy has promoted a way of understanding the Divine through meditation, and can be seen as a personal journey to discover enlightenment and the discovery of the true self. Some of these themes can clearly be seen in both The Wizard of Oz and Twin Peaks, both portraying journeys between different worlds, the never ending fight between good and evil and the awakening of the hero who has been guided to a new level of awareness. The central characters of both Twin Peaks and The Wizard of Oz had a longing to return home, but on coming home, it could never be the same again, for they had changed themselves and in doing so, they had also changed the world around them.