Thanks for the great website explaining the movie. I agree 99.9%. I do think, however, that the old couple that appear in the dancing scene, as the couple arriving in LA with betty and as demons chasing Diane are actually Diane's grandparents.
I think they serve the same function and work equally well as symbols no matter wether they're parents, grandparents of judges, but in the pilot script Betty's grandfater calls Coco just before Betty arives, and then we later hear Betty having a conversation on the phone with her grandfather. Here is is...
No Grandpa, you wouldn't believe it.
It's more beautiful than I ever
dreamed ... no she left me a lot of food.
The refrigerator's full ... Aunt Ruthie
said she'd call me when she got
settled... it was real smooth. I sat next
to a lady who gave up her first class
seat to a boy with a broken leg. She was
so nice to me. She invited me to her
house sometime. It's in Bel Air which is
a place where people have a lot of
money... I will. Everybody's telling me
to be careful, but I sure love it here
Grandpa. Thank you for helping me get
here ... yeah, it's long distance. I love
you. Say hello to Grams. Give her a big
kiss for me. Okay, I love you
Grandpa ... bye.
So it looks like her grandparents had something to do with sending her to Hollywood.
Another interesting piece of the movie is the way the long Point Of View shots move at exactly the same pace and make the same arcs and turns as you would experience if you were driving down Mulholland. It's realy beautiful when you look at it as a visual thread that way.
Thank you and your readers for this utterly fascinating discussion of Mulholland Drive. Like you, this movie has held me spellbound for nearly a year now. No matter how many times I watch this film, I find it endlessly mesmerizing. I agree with so much of what has been speculated by Mr. Ruch and others.
Originally, I accepted the premise that the film is divided into two parts: the subjective revision of real life by Diane as she contemplates suicide or is actually dying, and the "reality" that explains and decodes everything that comes before. I agree that the second scene in the film -- the P.O.V. of the pillow -- is compelling evidence for a reading of Diane's reconstruction as occurring after she has shot herself. But I am left with the question: If the suicide has already occurred, why would she embark on this odyssey of revisionism and justification? Admittedly, this assumes that guilt is a motivating factor in the suicide -- that Diane recognizes she has, to quote the Cowboy, "done bad."
Diane's reconstruction, as I see it, is several things:
1. An attempt to shift a power hierarchy: In Diane's world, she becomes Camilla's savior and more powerful double. Camilla ends up becoming Betty. Betty achieves a temporary control and domination of someone she idolizes.
2. To rationalize, or explain away, all the incriminating aspects of Diane's life that she cannot face. As in Lost Highway, someone else temporarily becomes responsible for an act of homicide.
Theoretically, none of this is necessary from Diane's perspective once she has pulled the trigger. In this interpretation, the P.O.V. shot becomes not the actual suicide, but a laying of the head down on the pillow, assuming the fetal position, and a gesture of avoidance that occurs after Camilla has been killed, but before Diane takes her own life. Then we could possibly divide the film in a different way.
The first hour and twenty minutes constitute Diane's fairly successful, false, idealized view of what might have been, that occurs prior to her decision to take her life. It is false, but it serves a purpose -- perhaps she is unconsciously arguing with herself over whether to commit suicide or not. The fantasy is revisionism that argues "my life is not so terrible and has a purpose." The fantasy begins to collapse from internal contradictions when Diane is seen by Adam Kesher for the first time, and the fantasy gradually degenerates until right before Club Silencio, when the dreamer (Diane) loses control of her dream (Camilla). Once Camilla's transformation into Diane is complete, and they had made love, Camilla begins to take charge of Diane's fantasy/rumination. The sequence at the club marks the implosion of Diane's psychological strategy. As others have suggested, the thunderclap could represent the gunshot as, in the real world, Diane recognizes the failure of her fantasy to neutralize her guilt and pain. The cowboy literally tells her it is time to wake up -- this coping mechanism is failing.
What I am trying clumsily to say is that the fantasy suggests that Diane still has something to gain by playing with reality, by reconfiguring it, so I believe it makes more sense that this portion of the fantasy precedes the suicide. Why, then (one might ask) does Diane's body appear in the fantasy? Pehaps because it is important to Diane that she imagine Camilla's reaction to her own death (which she is contemplating). This expresses the suicidal desire to see the impact of one's death on those who the suicidal person believes are to blame for the suicidal act. The entire thrust of Diane's reconfiguration of reality is: "I am an important person and my life has value and my death would be painful to Camilla, who I really want to hurt." This is an immature fantasy rendered poetic by Lynch, who positions it in a concealed and poignant context.
The first two hours become a discourse between Diane and herself. People say the movie is a dream, but I am beginning to wonder if it is a "coping mechanism" that fails. Lost Highway uses a similar device, as a man who has killed his wife attempts to reconfigure reality to avoid culpability. In both films, the mechanism fails.
I was fascinated to see that Ebert and others view the "monster" as a symbol of Diane's decomposition. Actually, I wrote to a friend that I felt this was a symbol of Camilla's decomposition -- and he just laughed, so I abandoned the theory. My first idea was that Camilla's body was dumped behind Winkie's, and Diane's attempt to reconfigure the corpse as a monster was part of her rationalization process (i.e., "that is not Camilla's corpse they found in the dumpster, but a homeless person"). This might also explain why the man at Winkies (hired by the hitman, or a regular customer who discovers the body?) is particularly haunted by the homeless man. His dream, as relayed to his psychiatrist, expresses Diane's guilt. The pulsating red lights when the "monster" locates the blue box always make me think of the red lights on top of an ambulance. But I like the other theories better. In some of the interpretations on this website, the "monster" becomes analogous to the Mystery Man in Lost Highway, who represents toxicity in a character that is concealed by reconfigured fantasy.
One other thing I contemplated was simply that the blue box represents Diane's depression. This is a depression that is temporarily repressed by the more successful fantasy but is opened when the fantasy is revealed to be a concoction. The depression and self-abasement recurs after the box is opened, leading to the suicide and opened by the key of self-hatred/murder. The blue box may echo the blue-haired woman, with "Silencio" indicating the end of suffering that is the result of the suicide.
Lastly, most interpretations of Mulholland Drive assume that the last twenty minutes of the film represent "reality." This is probably so, but what about the possibility that it is just as slanted against Diane as the first two hours are slanted for Diane? In other words, this reality is no less subjective than the fantasy: every slight, every humiliation, is magnified exponentially by Diane's delusions that she is worthless, and that it is Camilla's intention to hurt her. Watching the last twenty minutes over and over again, although it is painful to see Diane humiliated, I can also see how it may not be Camilla's intention to humiliate Diane. A series of events conflate that merely reinforce Diane's fear that she has no talent and is a worthless human being. But what is the reality:
Camilla tries to terminate a relationship. ("We can't do this anymore" and later "It doesn't have to be like this.") She conducts these break-ups face to face rather than in a cowardly, immature way.
Camilla invites Diane to a party. Diane is late, and this irritates "Coco" who is responsible for the most painful humiliations experienced by Diane. (In Lost Highway as well, a condescending pat on the shoulder by Patricia Arquette is the cause of a major humiliation.)
The other humiliations are synthesized by Diane: whispers between Camilla and Adam whose content we are not privileged to know. Diane feels they are whispering about her. The glances that could be innocent or trenchant -- who knows? Then the actress who beat her out for a role kisses Camilla, whispers something to Camilla and gives Diane a condescending look. Glances seem to be contemptuous gazes -- but are they really? Or is this not "reality" either, but the total inversion of the fantasy -- where everything seems deliberately calculated to degrade Diane -- but may have an innocent explanation? For someone with Diane's weak self-esteem, every gaze seems to be an indictment. Lynch imparts her pain effectively, but it is from Diane's perspective and this has to be taken into account. And, if people are staring at her, could it be because she is behaving peculiarly?
If this were the case, then the fantasy demonstrates Diane being unreasonably flattering to herself, and the reality is a stark perversion in which Diane is unreasonably nasty to herself and hypersensitive to an environment that could be interpreted in any of several ways.
Of course, to answer these questions, we would have to know Camilla's motive for inviting Diane to this party. There seem to me to be arguments on both sides, but one I have never seen contemplated is that Camilla, like Sue Snell in Carrie, means well but is clumsy in how she executes a strategy.
Could she really be so devious as to invite Diane for no purpose other than to humiliate her? Or does she invite Diane because she thinks this is a civilized way of including her but, in a firm way, establishing that the relationship is over and why it is over? (Camilla even permits Diane to sit at the "lead table".) In prior scenes, Camilla attempts to end this relationship by firm face to face contact, but Diane will not accept this. Allowing Diane to remain present on the set when Adam directs the car scene could have been intended as a nice gesture that backfires in context -- filmed from Diane's perspective it becomes very painful and assumes the characteristics of another humiliation. Although it is hard to contemplate this possibility because Diane's pain is so great, I keep thinking it is possible that Camilla wishes no ill will on Diane, but is just very clumsy in how she attempts to disengage Diane. Insensitive? Yes. But malicious? Maybe not.
But there seems no question that it is at this dinner party that Diane forms the intent to have Camilla killed. Note Lynch's ten clues: "An accident is a terrible event notice the location of the accident." Two accidents might occur on Mulholland Drive -- the car crash, but also a social accident -- an accident is something unintended. The accident might be a conflation of events that coalesce to assume the character of a massive humiliation, when humiliation is not the intent.
The elderly couple is introduced in the prelude. I never believed these were Diane's parents -- they are too old. Aunt Ruth is the only family Diane ever speaks of. For a time I thought they were Judges at the contest, and I still feel they represent the hope of talent, or some kind of trust in Diane's future. Whenever someone expresses faith in your talent, this is also a burden, because in return success is expected. When the police knock on her door, the elderly couple appear because she can no longer deny that she has failed to live up to expectations. The enthusiasm that once ignited her optimism now ignites her self-loathing.
Does anyone think it is possible that Diane does not even win the jitterbug contest? Lynch films Diane's triumphant moment the way he films Diane's embrace of Camille in the closing montage -- could it be that both are frauds?
I get the feeling that this couple is a part of Diane's superego in overdrive. They induced so much pride in Diane after winning a small-time dance contest, that she foolishly went against the odds and tried to parlay that into a Hollywood career. Perhaps the couple is a projection or amplification of the judges who showered Diane with compliments about her dancing. Diane then took these compliments to a grandiose extreme. When she faced the harsh realities of Hollywood (being one of many starving actresses who fail to be accepted into the realm of the superstars), her dream imploded on her. Manifestations of this implosion are a failed relationship and failure to realize her 'potential' as an actress. When Diane is at her wits end in the final 10 minutes, it is fitting that this couple (the reason she ended up in this mess) are there to drive her to take the life that they helped to ruin. In the context of all this, the monster could be interpreted as either the evil, prideful part of Diane's self or an external agent (the devil?) who induces catastrophic pride.
I thought your review was extremely informative and put together a lot of loose ends for me. However there is one scene that still leaves me confused and no one else seems to have mentioned it. In a scene where Diane is supposedly back in reality -- she is on set and watching Rita/Camilla act out a kissing scene with Adam whilst sitting in a car, as Adam and Rita/Camilla kiss, diane fumes with jealousy and at the same time she starts to progressively look more and more like the Betty Davis character in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Reflecting the jealousy that Betty Davis had in that particular film of her sister's successful acting career. So at this point she must still be dreaming? So I am also of the opinion that the entire film is a flashback from Diane's dying moments.
Here are my thoughts on this movie.
1. Diane's dream
Most definitely, we forget from all the theories posted on the web that its clear that Diane, in her dream, sees herself as helping Camilla, when the reality is Camilla pulled threads for her. She wanted to be Camilla's hero. Hence she sees Camilla thanking her for her help before the sex seen. It's perhaps a way she wishes that Camilla loved her and needed her. She wanted to see Camilla as the helpless "in need" of the two. It's a kind of comfort or dream that she wanted, that wasnt true in reality.
Moreover, the performance she gave to the director during the casting. It was brilliant. However, did you notice that the she CHANGED the script-sense from what she rehearsed with Camilla in their apartment? Why? Well, perhaps it was her way of telling or proving to herself that without Camilla she is a good actress. That perhaps there was talented side to her that she didnt want Camilla to know about? The fact is that her performance in front of the casting team was far better than what she did in front of Camilla; as if to say to herself or dream of herself as if she can be more than what Camilla thought she was in real life.
When she meets the director, there is eye contact between Diane and Adam. At first, I thought perhaps there was a love affair or attraction? But, on further thought, Adam looks to Diane (Betty) as if "Damn! You're the one that's attracted my attention." When she sees that she has attracted his attention, and his glance shows favoritism of the director to her, what does she do? She goes off to help Camilla; as if thats more important than acting. It seems throughout Bettys persona in this movie, that she is intent on showing herself off as a flawless actress, yet her desire isn't in her performing -- no; its in helping or being with Camilla.
Above all, I don't think anyone has mentioned this. Diane says to Camilla (Rita) : ".... We'll go and call the police to see if there was an accident? Without mentioning any names... just like in the movies?" For me, this encompasses everything. It's Diane telling us that the excitement wasn't making the movies or acting. It was the "fun" and friendship and love of just dreaming about making the movies. She wanted to share this dream to make it "big" with Camilla. Making it big wasnt the issue or the goal. Dreaming of making it big with Camilla was far more fun to her. And we see how happy she is to be part of Camilla's life when she sacrifices her chance to perform in front of Adam JUST TO go and help Camilla.
2. Club Silencio
Most definitely, if we knew that the song being sung was Crying by Roy Orbison, and we knew the words, we'd see that there is logic in the dream sequence.
Let's look at the words:
I was all right for a while
I could smile for a while
But I saw you last night
You held my hand so tight
When you stopped to say hello
You wished me well
You couldn't tell that
I've been crying over you,
Crying over you
And you said "So long"
Left me standing all alone,
Alone and crying, crying, crying, crying
It's hard to understand
But the touch of your hand can start me crying
I thought that I was over you
But it's true, so true
I love you even more than I did before
But darling, what can I do?
For you don't love me
And I'll always be crying over you, crying over you
Yes now you're gone
And from this moment on, I'll be crying, crying, crying, crying
Yeah, crying, crying over you
Diane (She) knows that they are both going to be dead. Either that or definately Camilla. Its selfish love. "But darling, what can I do, for you dont love me, and I'll always be crying over you."
When the singer (Rebekah Del Rio), collapses on the floor, there's still singing. That's the statement that Club Silencio gives us. That, there's no band. Its just a recording. Everything is a recording, and all actions are just being lip-synced? Heck! I can do that?!! But if I dreamt that??? what does that tell me??
That perhaps it doesnt matter who sings?? It's the same?? It doesn't matter if Camilla gets a role or Diane... acting is reacting... so, if I do it slow or fast, its just a recording with my face getting the credit for a recording that some other loser could have done just as well anyway. If I die even, the recording will go on. Also, we see some common sense from Diane that perhaps she's blowing things out of proportion in her world? Either that or she feels that the winning isnt the main thing -- it's the fact that she loved Camila.
3. The Cowboy
I think this character serves as a comic or character we tend to make up in our dreams. There is NO WAY on this earth that someone like that exists in real life. (perhaps in Texas or Kilamazoo USA, but no where else in civilized sane society).
Whereever this guy is seen, we know she is still dreaming or still in fantasy mode.
I would say that there must be a distinction between a dream and a fantasy. A dream takes you to your heart's desires. A fantasy is a step closer to that dream, but in reality. That's masturbation. You fantasize, but never have. Its the CLOSEST feeling you'll get to reality, but it's not. It carries with it real-life emotions, but its not 100% real. (I don't know from experience, I just heard that from someone else who used to jerk-off).
Fantasy-mode, and dreaming. Her dreams are what she WISHED would be the reality. Her fantasy mode is what she fantasised about that's closer to reality, but carry with them the real-life emotions of low-self esteem, anger, jealousy, and lust.
So, the cowboy?? I'd dream of this character to have fun in my dreams. But, all dreams have meanings, and what's his purpose? A guide for Diane in her dreams of the reality of the situation within the dream. The reality is that Adam chose Camilla -- not her for no particular reason (well -- there's obvious suggestion that she had strings pulled by the mob). The reality is that she did a bad thing (the Cowboy appeared to her twice). The cowboy was talking to Adam as if he had a degree in counselling??? Could this be Diane's conscience??? I think it is. Its her conscience, sub-consciously admitting the truth within the dream, and bringing her back to some sense of reality within the dream. Its the cowboy that tells her to "wake up"... that she is sleeping, and dreaming the guilt and fantasy you have in your heart. The Cowboy was involved in EVERY action associated with guilt or conscience.
So, Diane wakes up and meets her next door neighbour, indicating that the Cowboy is a character closer to or associated with Diane's spiritual side within the dream bringing her a notch closer to face and wake up to reality.
4. The Blue Box?
This is dream metaphor for Diane's heart. A small blue box, with a key that's strange
and not normal.
When Camilla opened the box, Diane wasnt around to be there. She knew that once the box was opened, Camilla would discover what Diane had planned for her. Who had the blue box at the end? Some satanic looking man?? Right? It's like your heart goes to the dark side? What came out of that blue box to haunt Diane? Her family! Isn't the family the closest thing to your heart? Her parents came out of that box
and drove her to her death either from guilt of not making it in Hollywood?
I'd definitely dream about that if I killed someone. Something in my dream would tell me or scare me of the reality of my actions. Camilla is left opening the box. Camilla is left to discover Diane's actions: her intent to kill.
At the beginning of the movie, Camilla escapes from the car accident -- right? That's a dream -- or Diane's hope within her dream that she escapes, such that she wishes that Camilla isnt hurt after all.
Camilla opens the box, and then what happens? Betty is gone. We now go back to reality
indicating that when the box was opened, the realization in the subconscious that Camilla was dead.
Hang on a sec: all that took place in Aunt Ruth's apartment? Aunt Ruth was dead in the reality of the movie. We see a shadow or cloud moving around Ruth's apartment. Perhaps another guest in that house in the other world was just admitted.
Dont forget this part: Where was the key to that blue box? It was with Camilla all along. From the start of the dream, when Camilla opened her bag -- she discovered money, and a key.
She had the key to Diane's heart at the start of the movie.
5. Number association
Anyway, there is a lot of association of numbers in this movie. 1612 Mulholland Drive. 16 reasons why i love u. Diane lived in apartment 12, and now moved to 17 which was ONE up from 16. Her address on Havenhurst was 16 something?
In the dream, the assassin kills a guy with a book: Ed's book "The secret of the world in phone numbers." Diane is dreaming that the assassin is SO goofy he doesnt kill Camilla, and that ANY trace associating HER with the crime is erased. Hence, the idea of stealing the book. It associates the number with the person. That's what a phone book does!!!
6. The lady who says "Silencio" at the end?
Who is she? Does it matter, it's only a movie?? But she was part of the dream, either that, or she's Diane's aunt in disguise.
When someone wants to commit suicide, there is a need to end the noise going on in the mind. The nagging parents, the voice of Camilla of having fun and with another man, Diane's guilt. Its pretty messed up.
When Diane (Betty) and Camilla (Rita) discover Diane's
dead body, what is going on in Camilla's head that makes her want to dye her hair blonde? It does look awfully similar to Diane's haircut.
Even Diane tells her: "I know what you must do, but let me do it..." What the heck was all that about?
Well, here's my view on this:
When they saw the dead body, Camilla was the ONLY one crying. Diane looked as if she was coping well, or in fact, she somehow knew there was a dead body there. The one in hysterics was Camilla. Perhaps it was Diane's way of telling Camilla: "Look what you've driven me to do?" So, why the hair change? Perhaps if Camilla had lived in the limelight, and Diane got the leading roles, than this wouldn't have resulted. Camilla (Rita) realizes this, and feels that she has to take Diane's place. Hence the need to look like Diane. This is the most puzzling part of the movie for me personally. When they look together in the mirror, I felt as if they were equal. None of this mess would have happened had they both been equal, not one better than the other, and this supports the argument that it was Diane's dream to live with Camilla -- that this was the real enjoyment, being together.
I could be wrong on this point...but the blue box is definitely her heart.
Stuff that I don't think was covered...
It seems to me that paying attention to the use of color may help in understanding the movie. Blue is Diane's color, red is Camilla's. Betty's first outfit is a blue shirt that she tries to hide with a red sweater. She doesn't really wear red until she goes to Club Silencio after she has merged/switched with Rita. The hooker also wears blue which makes her a trashy (maybe more realistic) version of Betty. The other women (Coco and assistant) in the director's life also wear red. The director has pink and blue paint in his garage. Is he "stained" by his choice of pink? (He has one pink and one blue deck chair.)
Points from the pilot script that may help or confuse:
Betty talks to her grandfather on the phone.
The monster is described as a man.
The man who dreams of the monster actually dies.
The cowboy appears and disappears in a way that suggests he isn't human.
The director knows the guy who owns the dog that craps in the courtyard.
Questions that need answering...
When the "mob" guys are making phone calls in the beginning. The last phone that rings is the one in Diane's bedroom. Is that just misdirection?
Next to the phone is an ashtray full of butts. Who smokes? (This answer may be obvious, I didn't look)
Is it a fact that Diane's body is undiscovered long enough to stink? How would Diane know even if its a death dream? Why didn't the person knocking hear the shot and investigate or call the cops? Or was it really the cowboy, we see him back out of the doorway after seeing the corpse.
My own thoughts...
I also think that in the dream the corpse is Camilla. That's why Rita is so upset and immediately tries to cut her hair. The conversation where Betty says "I know what you need to do. I want to help" seems a little deep for putting a wig on. I think that Diane is trying to save Camilla by taking her place as the corpse. I think this idea allows for a normal dream with the projection of Diane's death. She decides to kill herself in the dream. Another reason why I think it's not a "death dream" is that the opening pillow dive is calm with controlled breathing where the suicide is frantic and violent.
Thanks for your interpretations of Mulholland Drive. My brother just refuses to try to make an interpretation of the movie -- he takes the view that Lynch is just throwing out unsettling images willy-nilly just to fuck with audience minds!
I like most of the revelations you posed.
My interpretation of the creature in the alley goes kind of along the lines of a Black Lodge/White Lodge Twin Peaks entity (like Bob, Mike, The Dancing Man, The Tall Man) who is affecting the lives of people on our plane of existence. I believe it is IT that has arranged these consequences for Diane Selwyn and Camilla, a nightmare prison that has no end and loops upon itself -- a punishment for the cruelties that the women bestowed upon each other. I may be going a little Old Testament on this, on let the punishment fit the crime, but oh well.
I also was believing in my second viewing of the film that "Betty"/Diane subconsciously knew who "Rita"/Camilla was throughout the "Fantasy Sequence," and was trying to torture "Rita"/Camilla throughout (or at the very least get some psychological revenge) for her past indiscretions. After all, she is the one who encourages "Rita" to go further and deeper into her amnesiac past; she is the one who tells "Rita" to look in her purse, thus finding the money; she is the one who says, "It's weird calling yourself" when they call Apt. #12.
Along with that, the H.P. Lovecraft man (so THAT'S what HP looks like? OK...;)) might be a prisoner of that creature, too. Notice how he said that he had this same dream twice? I bet you that what we see in the ensuing moments is his third time dreaming the dream...and what will be his fourth, his fifth..sixth, seventh...I think THAT whole sequence is HIS dreamworld, removed away from Diane's just for a moment. This freakish moment, esp. when the sound is KILLED clues the audience that what we are seeing is certainly not reality...that floating camera work is another indicator.
I loved how the sequence in Club Silencio is really a message to the audience, the viewer that what we are watching is ALL ILLUSION, no hay banda. And yet, even with the most blatant message of meaning I have ever seen in a Lynch production, the man has pulled the wool over our eyes again with the rest of the film. Kudos once again to Lynch.
just a few thoughts your excellent review touched off.
i took the address book -- a list of names -- to correspond to the fantastical roster of characters associated with the camilla conspiracy. this ties it and the hit man in a general axis of evil -- specifically manifested as the monster holding the box and the guilt-inducing old people. tony karnowski refers to michael j. anderson's character and that scene's resemblance to the black lodge. just as llorando, lip synched in the silencio scene, is the spanish version of roy orbison's crying -- a seeming reference to another orbison tune (in dreams) our friend dale cooper lip synched in the closing scene of blue velvet - lynch likes his self-references, but i don't believe they're ever pointless. the tiled floor, now-larger dwarf avid fans have seen seeking the creamed corn of evil, and the pawn-like ways this network treats people (the pro-camilla network or abc, i dunno) all fit into a reality lynch has already established. the hit man -- who removes a guilt-stricked diane from camilla's murder by at least one step and can thus be a receptacle for her blame and guilt -- is tied by the address book to this realm of evil.
i have heard before, in childhood stories or fables, of the recently deceased being faced with a hideous monster, who catches up with them regardless of their efforts to escape -- to try to relive life, as diane does in her final moments. the monster's ultimate purpose is simply that of a messenger, it presents the dying with the truth of their life, in this case a huge amount of guilt. i agree with your analysis that the man in the diner is a guide, presenting to diane the inevitability of facing her monsters.
i really enjoyed your review; now i have to go and watch the movie five or six more times.
I just saw Mulholland Drive for the first time and it is definitely THE movie!
The past few months I have been (re-) reading Douglas R. Hoftstadter's Gödel, Escer, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. And I believe this book helped me catching the movie. After I had seen the movie I just had to find out more,-- if people had the same ideas as I, and I really appreciated your very good article which helped me understand even more. However, I do not care very much about loose ends and do not know if they even are present. The main point I believe, is the strange loops as in Escher's paintings and Bach's Canon per Tonos. Strange loops are mindboggling and seem to be beyond logic.
I am really sure that Camilla was never killed. The first few minutes of the movie are no dream. And why bother highligthing Camilla's sore ear as she crosses the street if it's only a dream?
I believe that the real genius is that Lynch manages to blend reality and dream. First time when Camilla, who in reality really has lost her memory, arrives at Ruth's house,-- or rather Diane's house... My favorite scene is the scene where Betty and Rita find Diane's house. It's Diane's dream or thinking. But it is also reality! We see Camilla with a vague idea of that this place seem to be familiar. She first meet Diane's neighbour. Look at Rita's face! Then she go to the correct address. Hesitates. Shall I knock the door? The hesitating part of Camilla is Rita. The more active (sorry, hard to find the English words) part of Camilla is represented by Betty. (Betty knocks the door and enters the house through the window,-- that is, Camilla finally enters the house and finds Diane dead in the bed. And screams. Of course she screams. Betty does not... And the scene ends in a double view... A clue? Dream and reality in one scene... Actually the real part of this scene must take place after the final scene of the movie...
And I believe that this scene ("real time part") may well be what happened just after the scene where Camilla hides for aunt Ruth. Actually she was hiding for the detectives? Perhaps. It makes kind of sense. And... Diane may have "seen" that Camilla was alive just as she dies. The dream or rather brain activity part of the scene.
The hit-man scene and the dream scene in the bar, with the two men, may be real and may be dream. I believe their function is to introduce us for a hit-man. And that something awful will happen in the bar. Clues, only clues not very significant for the plot itself.
Are we trying to be too literal with this movie? Perhaps it is the story of an aspiring actor, full of optimism and enthusiasm for a brilliant artistic career, pulled down into the corporate and social degradation of the Hollywood film machine and eventually leading to a desperate suicide. In this scenario, the inner self and the outer self are being realized as two separate women in the dying actor's psyche (where anything goes). The lesbian scene can be interpreted as the two halves trying to meld into one (granted, a very stimulating metaphor). Confronted with the reality that only one can ultimately survive...the only acceptable solution is death. The Club Silencio is the elevated idealization of the power and beauty of the theatre that is ultimatly being destroyed by the direction of her career. The rest of the rollercoaster ride is the sheer joy of Lynch's labyrinthine imagery making an old story fresh and new. Your site's treatise has elevated my enjoyment of this film immensely.
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--Allen B. Ruch
20 March 2003