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Closeups: accessing emotion and limiting information

by Sarah O'Brien

The part of Episode 2 that I’ve chosen is when Donna Hayward visits the Palmer house to talk to Laura’s mother. During this scene, Donna cautiously approaches Mrs. Palmer after being warned by Mr. Palmer not to upset her. Donna and Mrs. Palmer discuss how much they miss Laura and hug each other. However, the scene becomes more frightening at the end when Mrs. Palmer sees a creepy unknown man at the end of her bed and screams. The stylistic choices allow the scene to be so significant. For much of the two minutes, the camera focuses on the characters in close-up shots of their faces. This gives the audience a better window into the characters’ emotions not only because the camera is so concentrated on their faces but also because it limits the audience’s view of anything that might be ongoing in the background. The dialogue is simple, repetitive, and emotional; both women repeat how much they miss Laura as they cry. Emotion is more evident in the portrayal of Mrs. Palmer, who becomes shocked when she looks at Donna and sees Laura’s face instead. This is shown to the audience by physically editing the shot so that Laura’s face looks almost photo-shopped onto Donna’s, allowing the viewer to see what Mrs. Palmer sees rather than what is actually there. Somewhat similarly, this scene adds to the characterization of Mrs. Palmer as even more emotional and potentially even unstable when she is once again shocked and afraid as she sees a strange man watching her from the end of the bed. The background music at this point becomes dramatic with what sounds like a gong in addition to the music. The music combined with Mrs. Palmer’s facial expression and prolonged scream add to the thriller aspect of Twin Peaks’ genre as well as characterizes Mrs. Palmer. In addition, when focused on the man, the camera zooms in to an even further close-up, signifying his importance but also the surprise of seeing him there. This scene is significant because it exemplifies aspects of different genres present in Twin Peaks such as drama and thriller/horror. It also adds to the plot by providing a potential new suspect in Laura’s murder, the creepy man. It is also significant due to its characterization of Mrs. Palmer; as the mother of the murder victim, she is an important character who may be even more meaningful now that her mental state has been called into question. -Maeve

Twin Peaks, Season 1, Ep 2, "Traces to Nowhere"

Donna visits a very upset Mrs. Palmer

from Twin Peaks (1990)
Creator: David Lynch
Posted by Sarah O'Brien