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Auteur Onderwerp: Mullholland Drive
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Ik heb deze film gisteren weer gekeken, en was weer geintrigeerd door het verhaal. Ik begrijp het nog steeds niet helemaal, maar de volgende review(s) helpen daar wel goed bij.
Let op! Niet gaan lezen als je de film nog niet gezien hebt!

All the mysteries explained, all the references cleared up; a site for all Lynch aficionados, as well as ordinary cinema fans. Is the second part of the film, the first in fact ? What is inside the blue box ? And does the prologue actually mean anything in relation to the story ...

"Mulholland Drive" -apparently- tells the story of wannabe "Betty", arriving in L.A. , where she meets a rich brunette in hiding after surviving an assassination attempt. The brunette (Laura Harring), an amnesiac, calls herself "Rita" (after a poster of R. Hayworth). The blonde ingenue decides to assist her in her quest for her identity; they become lovers; at some stage, the two women find themselves in a cabaret, where they find a blue box. THIS is the moment.

The film then presents the blonde girl as a failed actress finally committing suicide, whereas her lover achieves fame and fortune, marrying the director of the film's sub-plot (who has been forced to accept an unknown actress for his forthcoming musical).

But it's not what happens...

"You don't know what you're missing".

Other films to look for, with similar problematic structures :
-L'Appartement -Memento
-Lost Highway -The Twelve Monkeys
-The Usual Suspects -Unbreakable

Theories :

It has been argued that the first half is, in fact, a dream : what the blonde actress (Naomi Watts) imagines her life will turn like, when in Hollywood; the 2nd half is the reality : she is a failure. But there is always a detail not quite making sense, such as... they bump into the (future) corpse of the blonde . What has the hit-man got to do with it ? Especially since he is searching for the disappeared brunette.

Viewer Charles Rainey thinks all one woman actress, at different stages of her career.

Also, take a look at this : "hi,
I saw Mulholland drive yesterday and was thrilled from the magnificent plot. i
started searching the web to find explanations about the plot and opinions
about the movie. all the sites i found were determined that the first part of
the film was diane´s imagination about how her life should have been and so
on... i was surprised that no-one seemed to have interpreted the film like i
had. if one splits the film in scenes and arranges the scenes in chronological
order (what i assume is chronologically correct) the story goes like this:

The blonde girl wins this contest, gets to LA, wants to be an actress
she meets camilla at the audition, camilla helps her get roles and their affair
starts. everythung goes as we know, diane hires a hitman to kill camilla cause
she is jealous, finds the key, thinks camilla is dead, kills herself when the
memories, the expectations and remorse hit her. Camilla is not dead. she
stumbles in to a place she knows, her mother in law is a landlady in this
house. she doesnt remember anything but starts gathering the pieces of her
memory. in my theory betty exists only in camillas imagination/dream. she finds
this key (to open her memory). finds her ex-lover dead (the neighbour obviously
knew her) she remembers things like the lyrics and the words of the show they
play in this theatre and how they had sex. she finds this memorybox from the
theatre and when she is about to open it she remembers everything. (thats why
and when the betty of her imagination disappers suddenly). the aunt comes back
and finds the apartment empty, camilla has left. the end.

This theory leaves lot of questions too im sure, but the main propblems are
solved better, like: how (or why on earth) could diane dream of seeing camilla
her memory lost, cause she didnt have any idea of her state, she rather
imagined her dead. plus she ran to the bed in the end she didnt have time to
dream in there (the dreamer showed in the beginning must have been camilla).
and the other mistake is to think that diane could have seen herself dead in
the bed. nope. she was dead when camilla went back to the apartment.

Well, i must go see the film again to see if my theory is fireproof, and of
course there might be many layers in the movie and things that just do NOT make
sense, but think about the movie this way too." From reader Samppa, thank you.

Another reader suggests : "Here is another Mulholland theory, claiming that the second half is a dream too
(mainly based on the "Dan at the Diner" scene) and that Rita and Betty are
the same person (mainly based on a loose, Lacanian reading of the nightclub scene.)

It is rather long and in English, but.... in case you are interested.


Timothy Takemoto (ne Leuers)
Kurume, Japan

Mulholland Dr.
Double Dreams in Hollywood
Timothy Takemoto

"David Lynchfs Mulholland Dr. belongs to the genre of film where the audience discovers that what they have been watching is a
fantasy of one or other of the films protagonists. This is a genre that has seen increasing popularity in films such as An
Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962), Angel Heart (1987), Total Recall (1990), The Truman Show (1998), The 13th Floor (1999), Sixth
Sense (1999), The Matrix (1999), Joan of Arc (1999), Fight Club (1999), Sixth Day (2000), Vanilla Sky(2001), Waking Life (2001) and
Beautiful Mind (2001) to name but a few. These films the audience is shown a series of events and a viewpoint on the world, which,
in the last part of the film, is shown to be fantasy The end of the millenium say a veritable "Plague of Fantasies," (Zizek, 1997)
about whichi Zizek has had a considerable about to say. Zizek's criticism of the films in the list above is their revelation of a
clear and definate reality to which the hero and audience can return. The truth, Zizek claims, is more unsettling: there are only
layers of fantasy behind which, at best, a "grey fog." Incipt Mulholland Dr.

What is special, and wonderful, about Mullholland Dr. is, I believe, the fact not only the first part of the film is clearly a
dream, the second part is another dream. There is (almost ) no reality to which the film returns. The film is made up of two
interwoven dreams, each of which present a different interpretation of the only event that we know is for real ? someone has died
and it is probably a suicide.

This review is intended for those that have seen the film and attempts to unravel the plot. In that sense it is a spoiler, and so it
is not recommended to those who have seen the film less that once.

First of all we should note that the film is in two parts made up of the first 105 and the last 30 or so minutes, where the names,
personalities and fate of most of the characters change. About this break in the narrative (for the most part) only the actors
remain the same, their names, their situation in life, even their characters are different.

The film starts the credits are displayed on a background of a fifties style semi animated dance. We may later presume that this
depicts the jitterbug dance contest that Diane (appearing in the last 30 minutes of the film) won, enabling her to come to

We then find ourselves on the back seat of Limousine cruising alone gMulholland Dr.h with someone who will call herself Rita. The
drivers of the car pull up and go to blow out Ritafs brains but just as they are about to pull the trigger, a group of youngsters
come careering around the corner in two cars, one of which pounds into the limousine killing most of the youngsters and the would be
assassin. This is one of three or four explanations of the shooting, or in this case attempted shooting, of a girl and there is
reason to believe that most or perhaps all of these explanations are describing the same event. Rita now with amnesia crawls out of
the car and ends up in an apartment building that has just been vacated for a holiday.

The film then switches to a scene where a young Jewish man called Dan is talking to his shrink in a diner. Dan relates that he has
brought his shrink to where they are sitting since he has had two dreams, both of which figure this diner. He says that what the
dreams have in common is that he discovers a horrible face behind a wall behind the diner. Dan and the Shrink leave the diner to go
and check behind the diner where there appears the blackened face of a homeless man. Dan falls over dead or dead faint. We do not
see this homeless person until the last scene of the film, when it the same face appears to Diane when she blows her own head off.
So what we have here is a man awake, briefly, attempting to interpret two frightening dreams in front of an audience (his shrink)
only to find that his two dreams were prophetic to face his own death at the point of realisation. The only connection with this
scene with the rest of the film is that Diane sees Dan in that Diner at the cash register. This otherwise unconnected snippet is, I
believe a hint, provided by the Director to the interpretation of the rest of the film ? which bears the same structure. A woman
awakes briefly and sees two dreams (perhaps as she dies a la American Beauty), which prophesise her own death, at which point in
reality she sees the face. This face can perhaps be interpreted as a glimpse of true reality, in Lacanian terms, the real that lies
behind all the facades and gdiner wallsh in the film. It is a face that is scene at death, when the fantasy ends, and it is
surprisingly evil.

The film changes to show the arrival of Betty (who becomes Diane in the second half of the film) in Hollywood. Her ridiculously
naivety and is alluded to when she is made the subject of derision by two old folks riding away in their taxi. The same couple
appear in miniature under the door of Dianefs apartment at the point of her suicide. It is possible that they represent her
parents. She arrives at apartment managed by an old woman called Coco, only to find that Rita is hiding in the shower.

The next one and an half hour of the film shows Betty trying to help Rita (taken from the name of a poster ? Rita has no name in the
first half of the film) find out her identity, interspersed with scenes showing a film director, sporting a David Lynchian hair cut,
be forced by a Mafiosi midget in a wheel chair to change the leading lady of a 50fs style film he is directing.

Betty and Rita go the diner. Rita that finds a clue to her own identity, a name that she vaguely remembers. Looking up the name in a
telephone directory, they find the corpse of someone called Diane in another, more run down apartment. When they return to their own
Rita dons a wig, which makes her took strikingly like Betty. They have a lesbian sexual encounter. And then Rita dreams of a
nightclub called gSilenzioh which Rita and Betty go to see.

The nightclub scene, like the Dan in the diner, is another of the more analytical scenes giving a clue to what is going on. The
nightclub MC explains that the show has all been recorded and then we are shown two demonstrations of this fact. A trumpeter comes
on an plays a few notes but then falls (or is pushed?) over while the notes, from we now find was a tape recording, continue
playing. A woman comes on and sings a Roy Orbinson song in Spanish, with great emotion and it really looks as if she is singing the
song. But when two people come on and drag her off stage we find that she two has only been miming. As the MC has explained, the
action has all happened before, what we are seeing is an apparent (but illusory) coherence between to streams of irreal events ? a
tape recording and people miming. Rita and Betty, who are watching burst into tears. They have reason to; the nightclub is
explaining who they are, and what is going on in the film.

Rita finds a blue box in Bettyfs purse, which fits the key that she found in her own purse. This is where the audience becomes
aware that all is not as it seems and that there is a connection between Rita and Betty. Returning to their apartment Rita opens the
box only to fall into it and darkness, and that is how the first half of the film ends. It is important to note that falling into
the darkness of the box, is very similar to the falling into darkness that we see at the end of the film. We should note that the
black face is shown holding the blue box - in other words both the first dream and the second half of the film end facing that
monster behind the diner.

The second half of the film starts in the squalid apartment where Rita and Betty found the corpse where we find that Betty, now
called Diane, lives. She is no longer a fresh-faced dreamer just off the plane but a jaded would-be actress come Hollywood groupie
that seems to having an affair with Rita, who is now called Camilla. Camilla/Rita is getting married to the Director, who she kisses
in front of Betty. Diane, out of jealousy hires goes to the diner again and hires the hitman (that we have seen earlier in the film
seemingly employed by the mafia-midget) to bump off Diane. The hit man tells her that he will leave a blue key when he has done the
deed. She sees the key and goes into her bedroom and blows her brains out.

A number of reviewers have supposed that the first part of the film is Dianefs romanticised, idealistic dream and the last half
portrays the seedy reality. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the first half of the film is a dream. The film's title
might be an abreviation of "Mullholland Dream" as much as "Mulholland Drive." The logo on the poster is "a love story in the city of
dreams." The film starts with a shot of the camera falling into a pink pillow. Betties own words, as she steps off the plane into
Hollywood, gI am in dreamland,h could not be more overt. Added to that, her over the top kindness, naivety and idealism, her
meteoric success (she bowls everyone over at her first audition), and her luck in seducing a mysterious rich and beautiful female
all within two days of her arrival in Hollywood.

According to this explanation, Diane, when she is spurned by her lesbian lover, hires a hit man to kill her and then dreams of what
she wishes her life is would have been, before she, overcome with guilt commits suicide when she finds out that the hit man has
carried out his job (and hears detectives at the door). While this interpretation is plausible I do not think that it sufficiently
explains the film, and in particular two scences: the nightclub scene or the scene with Dan in the Diner.

It seems more plausible to me that the second half of the film, in which we see Diane (was Betty) and Camella (was Rita) fall out,
is also a dream. And moreover there is reason to believe that Diane/Betty and Rita/Camella are really the same person.

This interpretation is suggested first of all by the scene with Dan and his psychoanalyst in the diner. He has had two dreams both
of which lead him to the same place, both of which forsee his own death. It is tempting to see this isolated scene as a precis of
the film as a whole.

Secondly, and this evidence will only be persuasive to those that admire David Lynch, the presumption that the second half of the
film expresses "the reality of the situation" assumes a reality which is Hollywoodishly melodramatic and contrived. Like Bettyfs
success in the first part of the film it is all too Tinsel Town and about as believable. What is some woman in a run down apartment
in Hollywood doing having an affair with a movie star, that is about to get married to a famous director? Where does she get the
money to pay for a hit man? How would she even get to know such a cold, calculating gun-swinger? In his earlier films such as Blue
Velvet and Eraser Head David Lynch is described as being the master of demonstrating the macabre of the mundane. Why would he resort
to a reality thick with hit men, limosines and failed love affairs with film celebrities?

Thirdly, in that little piece of reality that we are shown in this film ? the sordid flat and the death, possibly by suicide ? there
is enough to provide material for two dreams. First of all we are told that Diane used to live in the flat 12. We see the anonymous
next-door neighbour, one of only two characters in the film that maintains her identity. She is a rather dikey looking woman in both
the first and the second half of the film. In the first half she says that Diane used to live with her and that she wants to pick up
her things. In the second half she wakes up Diane to pick up her things. The irritable way that she behaves in both these brief
scenes is plausibly like the way that one would expect an ex-lover to behave. It is clear that the two females, Diane and this woman
from number 12, used to live together so this draws into question the existence of Dianefs other lover ? Camilla/Rita. We are told
that she picks up her stuff that Diane had from the time when they used to live together, thus suggesting their final separation. It
is also quite possible that the girl from number 12 leaves behind the blue key that we see on Dianefs coffee table ? an event which
would also signify the death or estrangement of her as a lover. We also see Diane masturbating. That is plausibly mundane enough,
but the luscious Rita/Camella who says gWe should stop doing thish seems more like she is part of a masturbatory fantasy.

Fourthly, there is a parallelism between the two main female characters that suggests that they are parts of one and the same
person. Further, noting that David Lynch has integrated psychoanalysis into the film, it seems plausible that Rita is the
unconscious of Diane/Betty. In the first half of the film ? which all agree is a dream ? Rita is the hopeless doting, big breasted
beauty that takes Betty into her arms. In the second half she is the equally attractive but betraying lover that drives Diane to

The first half of the film ends with Rita finding a blue box in Bettyfs purse which fits the blue key that she has in her own
purse. Betty is mysteriously absent. Rita opens the box, and with the box falls into 20 seconds of blackness. There are a number of
reasons why does not fit in with the gstandard interpretationh of the film. If we are in Diane/Bettyfs dream then why is it that
it Rita wakes up out of it when it would be more plausible the other way around. It is clear that the dreamer is at least for this
part of the dream, identifying with the Rita character. This is certainly a dream, but perhaps it is more plausible to suggest that
this is not Diane/Bettyfs dream at all but a dream experienced by Rita.

Both Rita and Diane take, or are about to take, a bullet to the head. Camellafs death, signified by the key on Dianefs coffee
table, precipitates Dianefs suicide. So it is clear that like Ritafs fall into the blue box, the key in the second half of the
film is what plunges Diane into permanent darkness. Do we need to assume a hit man (who elsehwere kills three people - I will come
back to that) and an double death? I think that it is more plausible to assume that Ritafs demise is Dianefs demise because they
are the same person.

We see that both Rita and Diane pick up a name in a diner. Rita sees the name gDianeh and thinks perhaps that her real name is
Diane. Diane sees the name Betty, which is the name she is given in the first dream sequence.

Rita and Diane do almost everything together. We hardly ever see them apart in either half of the film. In one of the rare occasions
that we do it is when Betty does her wonderful, and out of character, audition that we see her practice with Rita. In the audition
we see Diane suddenly flip out of her Disney land character to give an outpouring of oedipally motivated sexual desire ? the actor
she is playing against is a friend of her father. But later, in the second half of the film we are told that Camella/Rita beat Diane
to the leading part of a film by the same third-rate director. We are told that the film was likely never to be made. Did gthe
realh Diane really get the part in that audition? Did she allow the sexually seductive Rita side of her personality to win the
audition for her?

Both Rita and Betty have a lot of money in their purse and we are given no explanation of how it got there. Even more unexplained is
the significance of Camilla Rhodes.

The character of Camilla Rhodes, that we are told so little about, blurs the distinction between Betty/Diane and Rita/Camilla still
further. Camilla Rhodes is exists as an overlap between the two characters. Camilla Rhodes shares the same name as Rita/Camilla. But
at the same time, Camilla, like Diane is Ritafs lover, as is suggested by the kiss at the party. Camilla like Rita is a blonde that
like fifties songs. When we are first shown her photograph by in the scene with the man that spits out espresso, the photographic
image is sufficiently similar to Betty for us to suppose that Rita was to be murdered to secure a part for Betty. It is to make way
for Camilla Rhodes that the mafia take out a hit on Rita. It is to make way for herself that Diane takes out a hit on Rita, who has
robbed her of a part.

Betty dresses up Rita as a blonde ? looking very much like herself ? in the first part of the film and Camilla is everything that
Daine wants to be in the second. Rita/Camilla and Betty/Diane come as pair, bound by an ambivalence that turns from sensual motherly
lesbianism to bitter rejection. In the last image of the film we are shown Betty and Camillafs faces followed by the woman from the
Silenzio nightclub that sings the song gcrying for youh who says gSilencio.h I think that she is saying that Betty and Camilla
are that night club, like the tape and actors that do the miming, they are both void of intent, fantasies taking place after the
event. Like imaginary and the symbolic according to the Lacanian theory, Betty/Diane and Rita/Camilla and only give the appearance
of self-hood and authenticity by their misperceived identity. In the end, the one certain reality of the film is that a
self-loathing woman, (and with long hair it would seem from her corpse) comes face to face with her reality, the black face and

This interpretation sheds light on the blue box and blue key. Rita has the box, Betty has the key and the black faced man in sitting
semi-darkness holding them both is the cinematic equivalent of Lacan's Borromean knot. By the end of the film two sides of the
dreamers personality have fallen back into the chaos that preceded them.

This assumption throws light on the reason why so many people have to die when the hit man kills his gbrother,h in the first half
of the film. In an apparently comic interlude, a hit man kills a man with long hair, who has apparently survived the car crash (like
Rita) and then kills an overweight woman in the next office after a stray bullet passes through the wall. He is then forced to kill
a third person, the cleaner before shooting up his vacuum cleaner. What was the necessity of killing two extra victims when he only
wanted the book of secrets held by the first? I suggest that the triple homicide mirrors the way in which the only real event of the
film, the suicide of a woman in an apartment, causes the death of her in her reality (and of indeterminate age ? we presume that has
won a jitterbug contest so she is likely to be older than either Diane/Betty or Rita/Camilla), and the death of her two (alter-)

Finally, the fact that the director is one of only two characters (I believe) that remains in character, with the same name, in both
halves of the film suggests a third interpretation of the film that may have been less intentional. The director maintains his part
throughout. He also bears a resemblance to David Lynch. Why is this director making 50fs films, just like the world that Diane and
Betty stepped out of?

I think that this is another hint. David Lynch was born in 1946 and would have been exposed to 50fs music and the jitterbug. In his
films and in his dreams he can appear as about 30 for as long as he wants. This not something unique to David Lynch, in our
narcissism we all presume that we are immortal. As was claimed in the famous lines from gThe Sheltering Skyh by Paul Bowles:
"Because we do not know when we will die we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well and yet everything happens only a certain
number of times and a very small number really. How many times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon
that is so deeply a part of your life that you can't even conceive of your life without it. Perhaps four or five times more? Perhaps
not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise, perhaps twenty, and yet it all seems so limitless."

If both the lead females of "Mulholland Dr." are, in both of their roles, fantasies then "the real dreamer is elsewhere". It is
probably unfair and neurotic even look for her but I think that she may be a much older woman, possibly rather similar to
1) The lady on the balcony in the nightclub scene.
2) The psychic that came to Betty/Rita's flat in the first part.

Further evidence for this is that we are told that Diane came to Hollywood after having won a jitterbug contest. Unless she was
really retro then that would mean that she was in her teens
in the 50's and about 60 years of at the time of the action of the film (there are various reasons why it is clear the film is set
in the present, e.g. the director's car). This explains to me why the director in the film is directing a 50's style film.

The Director in the film is clearly modelled on David Lynch. The hair cut, the rabid attempt to keep control of his film, the arty
detachment ? the guy is just like out of Eraserhead. But why so young? And if he is so young what is he doing directing films about
the 50's? Lynch would have been about the right age for the jitterbug and late fifties music (he was born in 1946). What we see here is a parody of David Lynch who
despite being a man of 56, in his films he can be forever young and he is not ashamed to use the facilities that hollywood provides
for narcissism to the full, while making a joke at his own expense. This young david Lynch making films about the 50's is a hint. He
is like the dreamer that we never see, of the dreams that we do see, in "Mulholland Dr."

I think that this makes the film all the more macabre. Even the Diane at the end of the film is still a lot younger, a lot more
chipper than the reality of the corpse and the black face that is felt at the end of the film. In reality, it is only this black
face, that was there from the beginning.

I have no idea what is going on with that cowboy but I think that the "you will see me twice" has something to do with the double
dream structure that I am proposing for this film."

Why, thank you, Timothy !

The real story is : from the very start, we are actually shown the film is a dream. Much much later the dreamer will be revealed : it is Diana, the failed actress, who has ordered a hit-man to kill her lover, famous movie star Camilla Rhodes; the hit-man will tell her, at some stage, that her discovery of a blue ring will mean the hit has been executed; indeed, she wakes up to find the blue key; haunted by remorse, she kills herself.

So that the first two thirds of the film are, indeed, a dream : her idealised version of reality ...but Naomi Watts never existed. She is a projection.

Dream Logic. The genius of the film is to multiply "McGuffins", red herrings and wild goose chases ...but that's precisely how dreams work. A detail will get blown out of proportion, and the real message can only be expressed through distortion. For ex., "transference" : real names appear, but on other bodies ("Betty" is in fact a waitress, "Diane" is not the brunette but the genuine héroïne of the film, "Camilla Rhodes "is not the actress presented through her photo and her audition but the brunette's new lover; and so on.

Hence, should we try to accept the first half of the film, we are confronted with chronology impossibilities : they discver her future corpse; Naomi Watts attends the audition for the film which already made her companion famous, and so on.

Viewer Ellen Gwynn -and others- suggest that the film conveys the failed blonde actress's return to wakefulness; according to this theory, she has ordered the murder of her (ex-) lover, and is dreaming, in the first half, that she hadn't. But the presence of the blue key, as she gets awakened by knocks on the door, attest to the reality of the assassination (attempt).

Just like the sublime "Lost Highway", also the work of Lynch and Glifford, the film could be decomposed in several parts that would make sense, but only if we were to accept them without reference to the others ...-there is always a fly in the ointment, in the general scheme. So the films are rather similar in their structure, mainly based on a pivotal a break separating the two stories. Cf. Robbe-Grillet and the "nouveau roman" in France in the fifties : in particular that novel wjose title escapes me, with a blank page in the middle ...which makes all the difference to the second part of the story and actually back it up (the narrator has committed a crime which he then blanks out of his mind); or, more recently, Martin Amis's "Money" : there is a crucial tiny line at one stage, where the narrator is told something that upsets him and explains his predicament ...but that he refuses to take on board and divulge to us, the readers.

Doubles :

-innocent Betty / bitter Diane

-amnesiac (weak, no sense of identity, under the blonde's spell) Gloria / star
(famous, independent, and even cruelly teasing) Camilla

-Coco / Cookie

But, more importantly, I would suggest, and way more perversely (as if !), Lynch continually sows red herrings with abandon by (briefly) introducing "near doubles" , flashing them at us without giving us time to properly analyse these characters :

-the cow-boy the pimp / hit-man

-is the scruffy junkie prostitute outside the dinner in fact... Betty the failed actress ? (No, but she sure looks like her : about four or five actresses with half-long blonde hair are featured.)

-some even wondered about the frightening old soothsawyer neighbour and the scary tramp (Pandora / death figure);

-the blonde to be cast in the musical film : the director's suddenly anguished look, as he discovers our ingenue, makes it quite clear that Betty should / would have been his choice, given her proper chance; and guess what the name of the "this is the girl" imposed starlet is... Camilla Rhodes (i.e. the brunette's name as a star).

-Lynch seems to have this thing about blonde dinner waitresses ("Twin Peaks", bien sûr); one of them ' s name tag is...."Betty". (see chapter on dream logic.)

-brunette Rita sports a blonde wig, in remote resemblance to Naomi Watt's own hair.

-the angelic old dears at the start of the film, coming back as demonic figures at the end. I personally wouldn't give too much attention to these two characters, (some have even assumed they were Betty's parents -no chance of that), which I did interpret as typical hallucinations of past loved figures, clearly (?) modelled after "Requiem For A Dream" or even "Trainspotting"'s gameshow hosts.

For a thorough, insightful, analysis of the story, where else to go but to Salon.Com : fabulous article by Bill Wyman, Andy Klein; Max Garrone the editor.

Concepts to bear in mind :

-"McGuffin" (the blue box), red herrings (the Mafia producers plot : unrelated ?), hairpin bend (has everyone already forgotten "Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me" ? Its original story, with the two FBI agents in the trailer park, simply aborts, and off we go back in time, far away, in Twin Peaks town).

-"Wild Goose" : take the audition scene, it's quite obvious that the director falls for Naomi Watts, who we have just discovered to be a talented actress; watching this scene, how can one not expect him to turn down the "Camilla Rhodes" character and choose her, "Betty", instead ? ..but he doesn't.

Lynch plays a triple joke on us : the first part of the plot would have us believe that the brunette is the subject of the film... then the blonde turns up; but she is not the main protagonist either, since she doesn't exist : it's the half-glimpsed waitress who is. Analyse the scene in which the two girls enter Diana's house. They / we imagine it's to establish the brunette's identity, but in fact it's about the blonde visualising herself.

-"Echoes", or if you prefer scénaristique genius. The batty old neighbour declares that "someone's in trouble in there", refering to the amnesiac bunette; well, she is, but not for the reason we have been given (i.e. apparently surviving assassination in her Limo) ...but because the narrator of this sequence (the first 90 minutes of the film) is trying to get her killed !

Coco the landaldy seems disapproving of Betty sheltering the brunette (possible hint of lesbianism here ? hmmm... funny one should think that, as future scenes will confirm); later Coco the mother doesn't seem too impressed with her son's choice for a bride either : Camilla hardly hides her tendencies. Plus of course Coco was a mother figure, she turns out to be a proper mother.

Both girls in the limo are stopped on Mulholland Drive at night and ask their driver : "What are you doing ? We are not stopping here..."

-"Tracks"(potential angles of study) : brunettes and blondes. Kundera once claimed, in one of his novels, that blonde equals fake, as it's almost every single time brunettes who bleach their hair, not blondes who dye theirs
darker.Studies show that men do react more compulsively to a blonde walking down the street, on the perimeter of their vision. Quite literally : "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", with Marilyn. Mais "les brunes ne comptent pas pour des prunes" (Lio) ! In the film, the constantly more active of the two women is the blonde one, the other one being... mainly shellshocked. The uncompromising hitman / cowboy is not exactly latino looking. The black clad director, of course, has startingly black hair : he is the one who naturally refused to be dictated who to cast. And finally, of course, Rita dons a platinum blonde wig, as she falls under Betty's spell.

Mise en abyme (a FilmIncoherence favourite topic) : the Silencio nightclub Musicians and singers pretend to perform, but the music is all canned. Says the MC : "This is all a tape recording. It is an illusion." . Should prick up your ears, dear viewer... The audition : the director tells Betty (that is to say Diane's idealised alter ega -ha !) ) The director tells Betty (that is to say, Diane's idealised alter-ega, ha !) : "don't play it for real, until it gets real" ...which should clear things up.

Numbers : Diane lived at 12; now what is number twelve ? ...not number 13, that is. (And we may do well to remember that the Pixies, well-known Lynch fans, once penned a song "Please No Number 13" on "Doolittle" !). But then moved to 17. The director took refuge at number 16 (Roy Keane's number). The director's address is 6980 : 6+9 = 15 + 8 = 23, the magic number; or 15 = 1+5 = 6 + 8 = 14, aha ! ...so what is truly missing is number 15 : is it the Winkies Diner ?

Doesn't the finished product -the film itself- reflect what is being said about Hollywood, in the scenario ? The fact that "MD" came out at all is a testimony to artists' determination to overcome the producers' callousness. As explained elsewhere, the film was supposed to a pilot for a TV series for the ABC company, that did "green-lighted" the script at first, and then balked at the result, and pulled the plug at the 11th hour. Probably the most extraordinary thing about it is that the company happens to be noone else but ABC ...the studio that produced a certain "Twin Peaks" series, a dozen years ago... a series that didn't do too badly for their image, did it ? In other words, they can't exactly pretend they hadn't heard of Lynch.

But it gets more complicated (life always manages to) : frustrated, Lynch then went to French Canal Plus to complete the film. Little did he know, these twelve months ago... Canal Plus , launched in the eighties by the Socialists, was the first suscription, cultural channel in France. It was hugely influential, and funded tons of French / European art movies. Enter Jean-Marie Messier (moi-meme Maitre du Monde, as he is known : "J2M me myself master of the world"), a media billionaire that has recently set camp in the USA, where he proudly unilaterally proclaimed (December 2001) the end of the French / European "Cultural Exception". In other words, if the moghul has his way, we can kiss goodbye to films like "Mulholland Drive".

Ultimate turn of the screw : of course... the fact that this was not meant to be a self-contained work. "MD" is a re-cut salvage job, that therefore may or may not perfect in its structure. Moreover, representing a potential series, it's no wonder it does lead in all sorts of directions.

Quick note, from the horse's mouth. What does Lynch say to people whose theories about his films differ from his original intent? "I would say, 'Very good.' Every translation is valid. In a way ideas are like music on the page. The notes may come one at a time, but the translation of that music has to do with the ability of the musicians to play and the conductor interpreting them. You can get huge variations, but it's the same notes on the page." (-from Salon article).

Remarks :

Most critics get away with "explaining" the film as an exploration of the dark side of Hollywood : how a fresh face's illusions get shattered. But then, there is nothing new here. Most of Lynch's oeuvre has been based on this very idea : the good old American dream gone rotten; ideologically, as well as visually . Cf. "Twin Peaks", of course, and "Blue Velvet"'s Rockwell setting : the ugliness beneath the white picket fences of apparent model / postcard communities.

Technically, I would like to point out Lynch's trademark incomplete, half-fade transitions between one scene and another, which cleverly suggest a half-baked link (maybe causal relation, ...maybe not) without being too self-explanatory about it. What do I mean ? People always go on about "Blue Velvet"'s opening scene, which allegedly flows from a zoom inside a severed ear into the dark and murderous word of insects inside / underneath it. But it doesn't, really. Pay attention to the editing, and there is a visible cut between the two dimensions / the two worlds (grossly speaking : innocence outside, evil in the subconscious, blah blah blah). Particularly obvious if you compare it to, for instance, the technical tour-de-force of "Highlander" (yes, I know) seamlessly passing from an underground carpark to the surface of a Scottish lake (or is it the other way round ?). Lynch's refusal to formally conclude scenes in "MD" literally leaves it all to hang in the air.

Oh, Dave, and this wouldn't be a FilmIncoherence spin-off if we didn't note it, but : what exactly happens to Naomi Watts' suitcase, when she walks into her aunt's house ? ...hmmm... disappears into thin air ?

The Lynch Moment

I based this theory on a phrase / concept devised by Douglas Coupland. One of these incidents (good or bad), unmistakable of a certain tone/attitude.

"Lost Highway" : Bill Pullman's ambiguous party guest informs him that he is at his house right now, in fact.

"Eraserhead" : Jack Nance tries to carve the meat on his plate, that starts to bleed.

"Wild At Heart": two that stuck in my mind. Cage and Dern find themselves next to an incomprehensible man at a bar (J. Nance again, methinks), who insists on holding a conversation with them; they nod politely. It's kinda funny, it's very bizarre, and of course it's totally realistic : we've all found ourselves in that situation. Other piece de resistance : car crashed Sherilynn Fenn loses her brain as she speaks, unaware of her condition. Beauty and disgust; poetry and horror.

"MD".Obvious, this one : terrifying producer Badalamenti testing American coffee; the menace, the ineluctable violence, the sudden vital importance of what could, after all, be a trivial detail; and then his deliberate, thorough regurgitating and spitting; the eruption of bodily fluids into rich, formal, decorum obsessed society.

People are like pieces of a puzzle. We all fit together, but not all of us connect.

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But while "Mullholland Drive" is odd and surreal, fractured and dreamlike, it's not as complicated as these experts make it out to be. For another interpretation, I recently discussed the film with Dr. Frederick Lane, a Freudian dream analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia Medical School. Unlike the film experts, Lane saw "Mulholland Drive" as the product of someone intimately familiar with dream analysis. And when he shared his interpretation with me, stray plot lines clicked satisfyingly into place.

It's true, as several critics have reasoned, that the film's broad-brush examination of illusion, desire, control and identity should be neither obscured nor ignored in an examination of plot. (Which is a way of saying that you don't have to understand the film or follow the plot in order to like it.) But the fact is that there is a nearly flawless -- if anachronistic -- structure that allows you to see the way Lynch examines the parts of lost love, jealousy, revenge, regret, guilt and suicide that get lost in the unconscious.

As with "Eraserhead," "Mulholland Drive" begs for multiple viewings. But also like "Eraserhead" the effort is rewarded once you find and accept the film's internal system of rules. As you might suspect of a modern-day master of illusion, it's deceptively simple.

The film can be divided into two parts. Part A lasts for two hours; Part B for the remaining 20 minutes. Either part, or both, is arguably any of the following: one, an ordinary dream; two, a lucid dream in which the dreamer knows he or she is dreaming; three, a waking hallucination, or daydream; four, a sexual fantasy; or five, an out-of-body experience. What's your professional opinion?

A hallucination is some sensory experience where there is no real stimulus except from inside your head. Dreaming is hallucinatory, you know. I think Part A is a dream, and the dream is about murder, money and success. For a dream, it's not terribly surreal, but if you want to present something that's dreamlike, you have to mimic dreams. The pace in Part A is very slow, and dreamlike in the abrupt switches from one continuity to another. Lynch includes some smoky, dark scenes -- little flashes of images you can hardly make out, as in a dream. There are long periods of silence on the soundtrack, or there's the low buzz underneath [of Badalamenti's original score], like the beginning of the film. Most dreams are completely devoid of sound, but in some you can hear human speech, or completely hallucinated sounds, or incorporate a real-life noise outside your window, like the siren of a fire truck which becomes the howling of a wolf in your dream -- representing that you're still getting sensory input from your body when you're asleep.

The dream [in Part A] involves two themes: One is the love affair with this mysterious woman Rita, and the other is the machinations of Hollywood, producers and Hollywood politics, expressed in a kind of dreamlike, exaggerated way.

Part B begins when she opens this blue box and everything fades to black. Betty is now Diane: She looks different, she's living in a different place -- this crummy apartment, she's has lost that golden glow, and presumably brings you back to reality.

I agree that Part A is a dream, and I think the beauty of this is the extended metaphor to the anything-goes aspect of film. Like films, dreams mean nothing in the real world except for their emotional impact in your memory. Did you recognize the dream immediately?

No, but then I caught on: The second part is less dreamlike, much faster paced, and there is a soundtrack, as opposed to an absence of a soundtrack in Part A.

Part A of film, the "dreamlike" part, lasts two hours. In dream time, how long is that?

No dream is dreamt for two hours at a time -- they're usually 20 minutes to half an hour. A dream that seems like it's taking 15 minutes actually takes 15 minutes. That's been determined in sleep labs. So, contrary to popular belief, you can't dream a whole story running for two days in 30 seconds: A dream is a working of the mind; you can't think two hours worth of thought in 30 seconds.

So, really, dream time and actual real time are very similar. During some dream research I was doing, a subject told me, "I dreamt I was at the museum and I saw a friend running up the stairs huffing and puffing, as if he was in a hurry." I asked that person, "Did you actually see them running toward you?" He said, "No. First he was there, then he was right in front of me, and I just made up the huffing and puffing to tell the dream." The point is, the narration of a dream is not identical to the dream itself. What people experience visually in dreams is a bunch of quick clicks. So the person down there is suddenly right next to the dreamer, but the dreamer can't say that -- that doesn't make any sense, so instead he says the person ran toward him. Dream experiences are kaleidoscopic. When you wake up, you're left with this peculiar experience you have to convey in a verbal narrative, and your mind puts it together in a much more cogent way than you dreamt it, so you can tell it.

The dream experience is a series of hallucinatory flashes, and is actually different from what Freud called the manifest dream. The manifest dream is the dream as told: scenes, thoughts, sounds. In order to tell it you put together a story.

Was the movie more like a manifest dream?

Yes, the movie was Lynch's version of a manifest dream. It's like a told dream, not like a dreamt dream.

Why are dreams so difficult to remember if you don't write them down?

Freud thought dreams that are remembered in the morning and forgotten by the afternoon have threatening material in them, and therefore are repressed. But that's probably not true. Dreams are dreamt in a certain mental state called the dream state, which is different from the waking mind. Dreams record in the memory banks much more poorly than the waking experience does. So even though you can remember a dream when you first open your eyes, by the time you're sitting down for breakfast, it could be gone and you can't remember what it was. The most you can recall is, "I had a dream."

The memory of a dream also changes with time: A patient tells me a dream on Day 1; when he refers back to the dream on Day 3 it's going to be different. It's already been revised from Day 1 by the mind -- sometimes expanded, sometimes simply altered. Sometimes absurd things that happened in the dream are rationalized and explained.

So your mind is too busy manufacturing the dream to record it?

Except if the dream contains powerful emotional or visual content, or vividness. If the dream was a repetition of an actual traumatic experience you'll remember that because the original incident is so imbedded in your consciousness.

Along these lines, why do dreams often make internal sense, or follow a dream logic?

They don't. They are "secondarily revised." Secondary revision is what puts the dream in tellable order. Freud thought it occurs upon waking up -- during the transition between dreaming sleep and waking. A lot of people think secondary revision occurs after you wake up as you're recalling the dream. You're not recalling "and then I saw this, then I saw that."

So it's impossible to recall the dream the way it actually happened, because your mind won't let you?

No, you won't. In fact, you may be left only with a little memory of one image, but there's a whole story that seems to be connected with it, and your mind makes the leap. You don't know if you actually dreamed it, or if you're putting it together in your waking mind.

"Mulholland Drive" is an incredibly moving, lush, sensual dream -- you not only see things, you can hear the gravel under car tires, feel the tropical breeze of the swaying palms and warmth of a streetlight. Is it realistic for a dream to give as much sensory stimulation as we get in our waking life, with as many tastes, touches and textures?

Dreams do use all five senses -- including taste and smell. Having said that, the film's more Lynch-like than dreamlike: Lynch likes that slow, spooky pace; slow dialogue and slow music. The only thing fast that happens in Part A is the singing audition.

Can you tell me about the symbolism in either Part A or B?

It's about wish fulfillment. Diane has a lot of horror at taking out a contract on someone, and hopes to bring back the lover, although she saw the blue key left by the hit man (representing the completion of the job) before the dream. On the other hand, she wants to be successful as an actress. Lynch wanted to show you what went into the dream, and he shows it after the dream.

But that's what we do in analysis -- you tell me the dream, and I say, "Did anything happen to you yesterday that could have promoted this dream?" I would then take the narrative of the dream and look for emotional motives: anger, fear, guilt.

I'll give you a little lecture on Freud's dream theory. Freud felt that when you're asleep, your mind's working; it's not entirely at rest. While the mind is working, wishes, impulses and drive states threaten to wake you up. There are two major drives -- aggressive and sexual -- that are responsible for all behavior. These drives don't disappear when you go to sleep, but are pushing you toward awakening. If someone insults you during the day and the anger is reverberating within you, you might dream of some violence during the night. So sleep is threatened by these wishes. Let's say they're bodily wishes: You have a full bladder which threatens to wake you up, and instead you dream you've gone to the bathroom; if you're lying on your arm and it falls asleep, you'll probably incorporate that into your dream in some way. The dream helps you stay asleep.

Freud saw dreaming as a way the mind has of keeping the wishes which are threatening to wake you up down, and converting them into dream thoughts, which are largely experienced in a hallucinatory way. So that these wishes, or impulses, are pushing up toward consciousness which will wake you up, and they are altered by the unconscious mind into dream images, which tend to try to conceal the raw data of the wish. So what you experience then in dream is elements of the wish, as well as elements of the mind that are guarding you against the wish ... and they all come out in usually hallucinatory images. You can also have cognitive thought in a dream, actual thoughts like the ones you have when you're awake.

People have dreams that seem like nonsense and have no meaning to them, or really have a dream that's repugnant to them, that's some distressful wishful feeling sort of breaking through into the dream. And if you have a nightmare, which usually is accompanied by a lot of anxiety, the dream is not containing the wish or impulse. When you use dreams in therapy, you help a person find out a lot about himself.

So if you think of the dream [in "Mulholland Drive"], it's full of wishes.

That makes a lot of sense. So dreams are formed strictly through wish resolution?

One part of what forms a dream are these wishes and impulses. The other part is what Freud called the day's residue: people, images, whatever, occurring the day the dream takes place. So you'll have people you've glanced at, an image you saw. If you saw something traumatic and full of horror and intensity -- which is the case for many eyewitnesses of the WTC disaster whom I've counseled in trauma therapy -- then you might have recurrent dreams about what you've seen. Your dream blends the day's residue with deep-seated emotions: You have an argument with your spouse, then see a poster about the circus. Then you go to sleep and dream the image of a man going into a lion's cage about to get torn to pieces. The dream isn't formed by cognitive thought; your rational mind doesn't consciously formulate the dream. But in the dream, you might ask yourself why that man is walking into the lion's cage.

Is there such a thing as shared dreams, as telepathy within dreams? Could Diane and Camilla, for example, have been sharing a dream?

No, that's not possible.

If it's your dream, does the narrative ever leave your point of view and go to someone else's? Someone of the opposite gender perhaps, such as Adam the director?

Sometimes the dreamer is represented at a distance, and sometimes the dreamer's not in the dream at all. Diane could have certainly dreamed her dream from the hit man's point of view, for example, and had a guilt dream involving the death of two innocent people.

The hit man in Part A represents a guilt dream?

Yes, it's a guilt dream about the hit man committing not only one murder, but accidentally killing two other innocent people; Diane's worried she's sent this guy out to do terrible damage. I'd analyze a guilt dream as, "What have I done?" The wish element there involves guilt.

Would dreaming something from a different point of view be an out-of-body experience?

No, it's still a dream, but it's like watching a movie. Most often the dreamer's in the middle of the experience, and the dream is from her point of view. A dream within a dream is an attempt to distance yourself from the impulse behind the dream. Let's say you're sitting in the living room, and you've just had a fight with your husband. Then you turn on the TV in the dream, and you watch a war movie, and people are killing each other. So the impulse is a wish -- an aggressive wish -- that's stimulating this dream. However, being threatened by that aggressive wish and trying to disown it, the dreamer will distance the violence of the dream onto the TV set. So instead of dreaming you take a knife and plunge it into your spouse, you're dreaming that you're watching TV; you're attempting to disown your aggressive impulse. You're just watching a movie, but you're really taking it out on your spouse.

Do you think Lynch studied dreams before he made the film?

I think he knows dreams; perhaps because he's been through his own analysis. Yes, this is clearly someone who knows dreams are composed of impressions from the day, and also deep-seated emotions.

What about the reality of the transitions between sequences, and between Parts A and B? Transitions between film sequences are typically a slow fade to black, with the introduction of the next scene. In "Mulholland Drive," transitions occur this way, but there is also a wavering between Parts A and B. Do dream transitions occur the same way?

It's not at all the way it would happen in a dream. Dream scenes can shift in a moment. Instead, your mind jumps from one image to another -- there's no similar finesse.

Could Betty, the main character in Part A (Naomi Watts' character), be aware she's dreaming, and take control of her dream?

A lucid dream refers to the dreamer realizing in the middle of the dream that he or she is dreaming: That realization -- "Oh, I know I'm dreaming" -- is part of the dream. In no way can that person control what's going to happen in the dream; it's just a dream thought. I've heard about lucid dreams, but I've never seen a situation in which someone can control what happens in a dream. A teenager once told me about a dream in which he was in a museum looking for girls. He's young, full of raging hormones -- because it's a dream you can do anything you want, find girls, tear off their clothes or whatever -- but in his dream, he couldn't find any girls. Supposedly this was a lucid dream in which he knows he's dreaming, but he was not in control of what happens. When you dream, you're asleep; you're unconscious. People who claim to be able to enact lucid dreams can maybe enact very vivid waking fantasies, but they can't do it in their sleep, because the will of the conscious mind is simply clicked off.

Dreaming's only in the mind, though, none of it actually affects real life. That must be what the sequence in the "Silencio" nightclub was all about.

That's true. We now know that everybody dreams every night, in REM sleep, which is not the deepest stage of sleep. Sleep labs hook people up to electrodes, and in the light stage of sleep, their eyeballs are moving because they're looking at things in their sleep. If you had a dream a truck is coming at you from the right, the sleep lab person would see your eyeballs going to the right. You're hallucinating, you're dreaming, your heart is beating fast, your blood pressure is up, but your muscles are totally cut off -- in other words, while you're asleep if anyone lifts your arm, it's like dead weight. In a deeper stage of sleep, your muscles are also cut off, but you can still move around, although it's not in response to a dream. Unless they have a rare kind of sleep disorder, people, unlike animals, don't move in REM sleep at all, not in response to a dream.

After Part A, which is beautiful, we're plunged into Part B in all its drabness and dreariness. I wanted the beauty of the first part to continue, like that feeling you get when you have a really good dream, and you wake up, and you want to get back into your dream. Is that kind of longing common?

Yes, especially a pleasant dream you want to continue. I've seen dozens of examples just recently. After the terrible tragedy of the WTC, I started to do some crisis counseling, and one night I spent the whole night digging up bodies. However, the bodies were in beautiful glass cases; they were dead but beautifully dressed, flawlessly presented. I was repairing the bodies in the dream, and trying to undo a little bit of the horror in my own dreams.


People are like pieces of a puzzle. We all fit together, but not all of us connect.

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Je verwacht toch niet serieus dat iemand dit gaat lezen [Confused] [blink]

Signatures zijn zooooo 2003!

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Origineel van Budha:
Je verwacht toch niet serieus dat iemand dit gaat lezen [Confused] [blink]

Toevallig heb ik het wel allemaal gelezen. En geloof me, als je die film ooit wilt begrijpen, dan mag je dit niet missen.

People are like pieces of a puzzle. We all fit together, but not all of us connect.

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Ik krijg ineens een stuk minder behoefte om Mullholland Drive te zien.

Waarom moet je zoveel extra weten wat niet wordt uitgelegd in de film?

Signatures zijn zooooo 2003!

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Origineel van Budha:
Ik krijg ineens een stuk minder behoefte om Mullholland Drive te zien.

Waarom moet je zoveel extra weten wat niet wordt uitgelegd in de film?

NIET GAAN LEZEN! Ga eerst de film kijken voordat je hier uberhaubt aan begint.
En je hoeft het niet allemaal te lezen, maar na het kijken van de film, maakt het je een hoop duidelijker wat je hebt gezien.

People are like pieces of a puzzle. We all fit together, but not all of us connect.

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