The movie Mulholland Drive is a very interesting one. The sequence of events is so unexplainable that when the movie ends, there’s an overwhelming feeling of confusion and shock. Throughout the whole movie, there is no background information on the characters; the sound focuses on what is happening in the main scene, so there’s no background noise; and we are thrown into a mystery case with no idea how we got there. The ending doesn’t provide any answers to the questions we develop while watching the movie and we are left to interpret the events in our own way.
According to the Mulholland Drive website, there are multiple theories about the true meaning of the movie and what happens. The main theory is the one that I agree with the most. The events that occur towards the end of the movie support that Betty is actually Diane and that she pays a hit man to kill Camilla. Diane is so overwhelmed with the guilt that she falls into a psychological trauma and ends up committing suicide. The events that happen from the beginning to when she wakes up are actually events in her alternate reality. In this reality, she helps Rita (Camilla), they fall in love, and she gets an amazing part in a movie. Here, she has done nothing wrong, she is innocent, and she is having a successful start to her acting career.
Mulholland Drive definitely falls under the narrative complexity idea because it is a very distinct form of telling the story. It draws upon past techniques of filming but showcases them in a way that is not typical. While we have drama, characters, and relationships between these characters, the scenes and events seem as if they have been jumbled up and then played as a film. The alternate reality and psychological breakdown of Diane reminds me of the movie Fight Club. In Fight Club, the main character, Jack, also creates an alternate life/personality, Tyler, as his mind deteriorates. Tyler does things to liberate himself from the problems that Jack has in his real life. In both films, the characters create another personality and reality in order to escape the truth. Both films received critical acclaim for the techniques and methods they used to present the story. While most movies guide and lead the audience to the end, Mulholland Drive and Fight Club make it difficult to see what is really going on. It seems that what is shown on screen is really what is occurring to the characters, however, when a closer look is taken, the truth comes out. While in Fight Club, the film actually reveals that Jack and Tyler is the same person, in Mulholland Drive it is up to the audience to come up with their own explanation of what happened. Here is where the two films differ. One answers the questions that have been brewing all along while the other leaves you with even more questions.
I believe that narrative complexity and audience pleasure don’t always go hand in hand. What tends to be popular is usually not complex or hard to understand. A lot of people watch movies to be entertained not necessarily to think, thus they dislike films with narrative complexities. In my personal opinion, I enjoy films that are unique and filmed in interesting ways. However, this movie confused me and required me to think about it even after finishing it. I do recall a comment that my friend who is studying film at Ryerson in Toronto, Canada made one day. He said that he wants to make movies that make people leave the movie theater and still think about it. He wants his films to stay on the audience’s mind because whether they liked it or not, if they can’t get over the film, then they were impacted by it. He said that film makers want their films to impact people, to be remembered.
If going by my friend’s comment, then I must admit that that is exactly what Mulholland Drive did to me. While I may have been frustrated because I was so confused when the movie ended, it definitely succeeded at getting stuck in my mind. I thought about it more and more because I wanted to figure out what happened. I believe that you can definitely have good storytelling with narrative complexity; however, it is probably something that not everyone will like or approve of. But if the film maker’s goal is to impact people and leave them thinking about his or her film, then storytelling with narrative complexity can definitely achieve that, and Mulholland Drive does that.