David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive
This movie belongs to a genre my wife and I have made up, called “mind fuck movies”. It really should be a genre. This movie is right up there with the best of them. It will most likely leave you with your jaw agape, scratching your head after the first viewing. The more you think about it, the closer your head will come to exploding. However, upon my second viewing I believe it all came clear to me. Suffice it to say, if you like mysterious movies that totally mess with your head, check it out. Now onto the spoilers and my analysis…
AHOY! THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD! YE BE WARNED!
So upon my second viewing I noticed one shot that I hadn’t noticed before which locked a lot of things in place for me. The opening shot in fact. I guess without knowing the story, this little shot just flew by me unnoticed the first time, or I just attributed it to Lynch’s weird, artistic randomness. The opening shot is a blurry shot, from a first person perspective, of someone lying down on a pillow. Fast forward 2 hours and Diane Selwyn wakes up on this same pillow. The first 2 hours of the movie is Diane Selwyn’s final dream. The last part of the movie is a combination of flashbacks to what really happened, mixed with “current” shots of Diane dealing with her guilt and coming unglued as her world falls apart. Diane (who is Betty in the dream) won a jitterbug contest and came to L.A. to try and be an actress. Unfortunately she found this much harder than she expected. She got involved with Camilla Rhodes (Rita in the dream), who later left her and got together with a director (Adam). This crushed Diane, and was the beginning of the end for her. Camilla invites Diane to a party, where, it turns out, she and Adam announce that they’re getting married. This is the final breaking point for Diane. Diane hired a thug to kill Camilla. The thug told her that when the job was done, he would leave the blue key in a pre determined location. What the key went to, I’m not sure. We see the key on Diane’s table meaning that Camilla has been killed. We also see one of Diane’s friends come by for her stuff (I believe this to be Diane’s ex from the tense vibe between them, and the general feel of the situation). She also mentions that 2 detectives were looking for Diane. Most likely because they suspect some involvement in Camilla’s murder, I think. Diane, now dealing with the guilt added to her unraveling mental state, goes over the edge and kills herself.
The dream portion of the movie is incredible to me in that it actually does an incredible job of exemplifying something that’s fairly intangible; the strange ways in which our minds concoct dreams. Many of the characters and elements are merely things that were on her mind, but twisted and put into some other role in her dream. I’m sure most of us have experienced this. Your mind places some random person you saw that day into a seemingly random role, or takes some concept that you were thinking about earlier, and applies that theme somewhere else. Everyone she saw at the dinner party takes on some role in her dream, because her mind needs to put faces on these players, and these faces were the ones most recently on her mind. A random cowboy becomes head of some conspiracy. “Rita” has people attempting to kill her, drawn from the fact that Diane has put a hit on Camilla. “Rita” has a purse full of money, just like Diane had in the real world to pay of the thug. All the various facts stored in Diane’s mind are twisted and re-applied in this dreamland. Diane overheard Adam saying that in his recent divorce, he got the pool and his wife got the pool man, and thus this is manifested in the dream.
The dream is also sort of a “perfect world” in Diane’s mind too. She has an awesome audition that impresses casting directors. She is together with “Rita” who has no memory and therefore it’s like a fresh new adventure where they are both starting anew, and “Rita” can be whoever she wants her to be. Adam has an absolute crap day, which you have to wonder if that’s Diane’s mind wreaking some vengeance. In the real world we hear that Diane lost a leading role to Camilla, but in the dream the only reason “Bettie” loses the role is due to a vast conspiracy. Then there’s the blue key. The blue key, in the real world, symbolizes Camilla’s death to Diane. She sees that key, and knows Camilla is dead. In the dream, once Rita is about to insert the blue key into the box to find out what’s inside, Bettie is suddenly gone. Perhaps Diane was starting to come out of the dream at this stage or couldn’t bear to be there when Rita found out what the blue key unlocked; her own death. Rita turns the key, the camera zooms into the box as if sucked in, then the box drops to the ground. Just as the key was symbolic of Camilla’s death in the real world, it also brought an end to Rita.
Diane wakes up. That was the last dream she’d ever have.