Mullholland Drive : Making Common Sense Out of a Not So Common Movie

After reading Alan Shaw’s detailed and well thought out analysis of Mulholland Dr., along with other credible theories on the Lost On Mulholland Dr. website, I have come to the conclusion and logical interpretation that coincides and is somewhat analogous to Shaw’s insights and comprehension of the neo-noir film that proves to be a labyrinth to most intrigued viewers who yearn to fulfill their insatiable thirst for the knowledge of what is reality and what is fantasy In my opinion, the first three-quarters of the film is all fantasy, and the final quarter is reality with short sequences of flashbacks. It was not until the dying minutes of the film that I was able to make some sense of the events and close some loop holes that remained salient for the majority of the movie. In general, I believe that Betty is a self-projected dream persona of Diane. Betty lives as a personified entity of Diane’s greatest aspirations in Diane’s drug induced dream, along with other personified entities and symbolic personas. Betty is everything that Diane once was; an energetic, and enthusiastic newbie in Hollywood. However, Diane experienced the cold reality of the movie industry and became tangled in a web of seduction and betrayal by her former lover Camilla, who’s depicted as Rita, an amnesic with a mysterious secret who Betty becomes part of. I agree in whole with Alan Shaw’s logical assumption that the first three-quarters of the film is Diane’s drug induced fantasy, as she dreams of the life she yearned for but in reality could never attain.

Diane’s dream world represents multiple things in her real life. It is obviously a dream of a world in which her relationship with Camilla was different — a place where Camilla relies on her and loves her. But her dream world is also a sanctuary for her failed ambitions to be an actress. As the story unfolds, Diane eventually wakes up from her dream and the viewer is experiencing the reality of Diane, which is bleak and depressing. Diane is a nervous and depressed woman who lives in the same apartment where Betty and Rita found the deceased body of Diane Selwyn in the dream. At this point in the film, Lynch allows you to view troubled life of Diane Selwyn through a series of flashbacks. These flashbacks depict the intricate love triangle between Camilla, Diane, and Adam, the director, which in contrast are twisted and altered into a more favorable image that Betty experiences in Diane’s fantasy.

The movie winds down with Diane shown to be ordering a hit on Camilla, who betrayed her and embarrassed her by finding comfort with Adam. However, Diane is not able to deal with the guilt of Camilla’s demise and falls victim to the hallucinogenic torment of the sinister elderly couple that accompanied Betty from the airport at the beginning of the movie. To me, the elderly couple represents the schizophrenic nature that Diane has grown to possess due to the constant haunting of unrealized dreams and a broken heart. Ultimately the guilt, embarrassment, and anxiety become too much for Diane to handle, and she commits suicide by shooting herself with a gun conveniently placed in drawer next to her bed.

As for loose ends, such as the meaning of the blue box and key, and the monster behind Winkies’ Diner, I believe they are symbolic representations that all relate to some intrapersonal aspect of Diane’s life.  The blue box that makes brief appearances throughout the film represents Diane’s knowledge and  realization that Camilla is dead. The key represents the revelation of this information. When you put the key and box together in symbolic form, it represents Diane’s ultimate acceptance of her role in Camilla’s death. In addition, the monster behind Winkie’s that is briefly seen in the beginning of the film represents Diane’s personal demons and the monster she has become that drove her to commit an unforgiveable act she can’t live with.

This is just a basic premise of the movie and one of the many interpretations that have been applied to achieve a further understanding of a complex narrative. What is coherent and justifiable by evidence is that David Lynch constructed and created one giant maze-like plot, filled with loopholes, and other strange and mysterious complexities.  I personally label this movie as a brilliant complex narrative.  Mitrell talks about the narrative complexities presented in television shows that are presented to an audience through hour to an hour and a half time segments.  Furthermore, these shows compile episodes that form a season long series that spans weeks to months at a time. However, the narrative complexity that exists in Mulholland Dr. is witnessed through the absurd sequence of scenes and the overall chronological distortion that leaves viewers baffled and perpetuates the development of multiple theories that assume a spectrum wide of possibilities. These hypothesized theories range from the movie being complete reality or, in utter contrast, a total dream of Diane’s. Like a majority of movies that people watch, a strict and coherent timeline of events are present and the audience is able to easily comprehend where they are at in the movie. On the other hand, Mulholland Dr. utilizes series narrative complexities by portraying events that leave the viewer in a state of ambiguity as to where in time those scenes fall into. The presence of narrative complexity is what gives Mulholland Dr. its energy and allows the audience to fully interact with the movie by generating plausible theories as to what is actually happening in the movie, what are the characters true identities, and other ambiguous information. Mulholland Dr. is unlike most common movies, due to its absurd sequence of events, contrasting characters and personas, and its notable open conclusion.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed Mulholland Dr. and the absurdity that came along with it. Movies that allow the viewer to interact and force the viewer to think outside the box are at the top of my list. Mulholland Dr. creates an immersive atmosphere for the viewer, and causes the viewer to pay close attention to even the smallest of narrative details. This movie is similar in effect to complex movies such as Inception and Memento; both

Even they're confused.

films have narrative complexity and chronological dysfunction.  I could see why some people would not take a liking to this movie due to its awkward and strange scenes, disorderly timeline of events, and mysterious characters. Most moviegoers I know are used to fully comprehending a movie and not having to think and concentrate too much on multiple dimensions of the movie. Mulholland Dr. offers exactly what most moviegoers are not willing to spend their money on mysterious characters, chronological dysfunction, and the need for the viewer to differentiate between reality and fantasy. David Lynch’s masterpiece is evidence that narrative complexity is able to coexist with excellent storytelling.

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