-Can you tell me how to get, How to get to Mulholland Drive?
Watching the film multiple times isn’t necessarily enlightening. Director David Lynch is known for his mind-warping stories and by now it just seems easier to fend off any notion of absolute truths. I agree with most theories that suggest the movie is broken into two parts. One half of the film is a dream (Betty), and the other a reality (Diane). However, this might be because Inception is still fresh on my mind and a mysterious box (or safe) and dreams are naturally linked like peanut butter and jelly. The core mystery of the film seem to revolve around the blue box. If we see the box as Betty/Diane’s consciousness, then the narrative seems to fit. The movie began as a dream, and when they opened the box the film shifted to reality. Additionally, this would explain all the weirdness that happens in the beginning (monster at the diner, the cowboy, the man in the wheelchair, etc). The non-sequitur nature reflects how dreams tend to not make sense. Admittedly, this sounds like the easy way out in dissecting the puzzle because I’m just shrugging off all the things that don’t make sense as dreamsense. However, the film’s plot devices seems to reflect a police investigation. You can gather all the clues, but obviously some of them don’t really solve the case. It’s important to pinpoint the crucial pieces and discard the extraneous red herrings.
An example of these extraneous puzzle pieces is the ominous, yet hilariously out of place cowboy character. Lynch brilliantly hooks the audience with this idea that if the cowboy appears a second time, then the director must of done something wrong and of course, the elusive cowboy reappears in the last third of the film leaving a party. However, this only strengthens the argument that the first half is a dream. When we see the cowboy leaving the party in the movie, it’s out of the corner of the eye. Diane integrated this brief image into her dream. It’s like when you see a poster randomly during the day, and that night the poster appears in your dream. (it doesn’t have to be a poster, any noun would work). Not all the confusing events are red herrings. The old couple, for example, could be interpreted as Diane/Betty’s innocence coming back to haunt her. But, even that sounds like a long shot. I also recognize I’m probably a minority opinion. With popular sites such as Lost on Mulholland Drive, Jason Mittel’s classification of complex narratives nails this film. Mittel clarifies, “Technological transformations away from the television screen have also impacted narratives. The internet’s ubiquity has enabled fans to embrace a ‘collective intelligence’ for information, interpretations and discussions of complex narrative.”
So, because I don’t want to figure out the mystery, probably due to sheer frustration (or delight), I rather view the film as a movie about Hollywood and common Hollywood narratives. Again, this is most likely fueled by Christopher Nolan’s latest flick (creating immerse dreams is akin to creating an immerse film) , but the film seems more like Lynch’s critique on Hollywood. Knowing that the film was suppose to be a ABC TV series that was later not picked up, the film is full of anti-Hollywood sentiment (i.e. everyone remotely related to the movie/tv business are depicted as helpless or straight up assholes. Cue Justin Theroux’s hipster director role or the skivvy foreign producers. Then there’s Diane too).
Furthermore, the film’s sexuality can’t be ignored when interpreting the film. Obviously, ABC couldn’t air a TV show with this much blatant sexuality. However, the lesbian narrative seems like the most obvious critique (of many, I’m sure. I just didn’t catch them all) in the film. The overtly-steamy sex scene highlights Hollywood’s tendency to use women characters as sexual objects. Bill Wyman explains this critique better in a Salon article back in 2001 where he states: “[Lynch] is playing explicitly with how Hollywood uses women predominantly as sex objects — except he’s turning the formula on its head, making the women’s world a closed one, at least in Diane’s fantasy of it. But of course, in the end she’s doing the same thing a Hollywood movie normally does to a Camilla — imagining that she’s an empty object that she can possess.”
This amounts to Lynch’s argument that female characters possess a lot of potential if they escape from the status of sex symbols. Betty’s character is a likable character not because she’s bubbly, but because she is optimistic and believes she can gain fame out of sheer hard work and determination. On the flip side, Diane failed in her aspiration for fame and ultimately commits suicide (we think).
Then there is the silencio theater scene. There are two key things to note. The first is the shift from a mainly visual focus to an audio-centric experience. The second is the transition from the audience watching a film about Betty and Rita to Betty and Rita becoming an audience to a stage performance (talk about meta). Betty/Rita witness something they don’t completely understand, and yet, they are flooded with emotions at the end. This foreshadows what the audience might feel when they finish watching Mulholland Drive. Lynch was well aware that people will continue to talk about this film days after watching it. The bigger question then, is not what is the mystery, but rather what is art. How do we look at a painting or hear a song, and suddenly feel even though we can’t quite explain it or put it into words. Perhaps words simply are not capable of reflecting emotions and sometimes silence is the best way to really answer all the questions. Lynch doesn’t want to reveal his mystery and he doesn’t want us to talk about his movie. He just wants us to feel. We know this because he ends his movie with the most fitting of words. Silencio.
-Until Next Time