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Your thoughts/interpretations of Mulholland Drive

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4 years ago
  • Beau S.
    Feb 10th, 2013

    I recently watched Mulholland Drive for the first time in many years, and many of my suspicions and curiosities about this strange but brilliant film have returned to my mind.

    Obviously this is a film that is open to multiple interpretations, and I’d like to see what you all think as this is a very intelligent group of movie-watchers.

    (for the purpose of clearly communicating the basic idea, I will refer to each character by the actor that plays them, since character names may or may not be reliable)
    The most popular and accepted theory is that the first two thirds of the film is Watts’ dream world: she is a bright young star who is immensely talented and quickly gets a big break in Hollywood, while Herring is a totally helpless amnesiac who is a nobody and is unlikely to develop a normal lifestyle ever again. The final third of the film reveals this to indeed be a dream where everything is the exact opposite: Watts is a struggling and unhappy actress driven to depression by her unrequited love for Herring, who is now a wildly successful actress.

    Of course this is simply a vague plot summary, and there is obviously some heavy symbolism in many unmentioned aspects including (but not limited to): the key, the box, Club Silencio, the cowboy, the man behind the diner, etc.

    What is your take on this film and what do you think is the significance of these aspects? Remember that, since no word from Lynch on the true meaning of the film exists, nothing is wrong and nothing is right. Even if you think your interpretation is silly, it could be beneficial to somebody else’s understanding of the film.

    Nov 4th, 2010

    I’d love it if Cederic would answer this question again. His ‘essay’ on this is just as interesting as the film itself. As for me, I’d have to watch it again to recall if I feel the same way or not. Funny thing, each time I’ve reviewed MD I come away feeling it makes so much sense, and then, second guessing myself in retrospect.

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    Oct 11th, 2011

    Feel similarly to babypook with the “second guessing” oneself. I have a good article about it, but it’s way too long to post (and it doesn’t come with a link). If anyone’s interested, just message me and I’ll send it to you. Begins like this:

    Lost on Mulholland Drive: Navigating David
    Lynch’s Panegyric to Hollywood
    by Todd McGowan

    Abstract: In Mulholland Drive, David Lynch creates a filmic divide between the
    experience of desire and the experience of fantasy, thereby revealing that, at the
    same time that it disguises the Real, fantasy also offers us a privileged path to it.

    Almost everyone who sees Mulholland Drive (2001) notes that the first part of the
    film makes a good deal of sense—at least for a David Lynch movie. In contrast to
    the beginnings of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) or Lost Highway (1997),
    the opening of Mulholland Drive is relatively straightforward. In the first part of
    the film, a woman emerges from a car crash without any memory and, while hiding
    out in an apartment, meets another woman who helps her recover her identity.
    While they are living together, the two women fall in love. This, in brief, represents
    the narrative trajectory of the first part of the film, and although there are
    bizarre spinoffs from this trajectory, the basic narrative makes sense. In fact, it
    seems to belie entirely film reviewer Stanley Kauffmann’s claim that “sense is not
    the point: the responses are the point.”1 While one might be tempted to agree with
    Kauffmann concerning the film’s conclusion, the opening definitely has a great
    deal of coherence. Yet there is also a fantasmatic aura around the opening section
    that serves to undermine this coherence and give some credence to Kauffmann’s
    contention that the first part of the film is meant to be more evocative than sensible.
    By combining sense with the texture of fantasy, Lynch uses the first part of
    Mulholland Drive to explore the role that fantasy has in rendering experience coherent
    and meaningful.

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