I just read your analysis of Mulholland Drive and thought it was fabulous! I have been rolling that movie around in my head for over a year now and every time I watch it I walk away with a completely different theory, in fact I just sat down and watched it again and came away with another totally different theory, here it is:
Two things always bothered me, the fact that it appeared to me the corpse in the bed we see initially is not Diane and the coffee cups. Let me explain. The corpse in the bed we see when Betty and Rita break into the apartment is not Diane, she has different hair and clothes, and I don't think this is some error from bringing together the film elements and the original TV pilot.
The coffee cups: We see the same coffee cups in Winkies and Diane's apartment, and Lynch pointed out to viewers of the film that we should watch them. Why? I think the answer might be for more reasons than one. If the world of Betty is Diane's fantasy that would explain the cups, they were integrated from things around her like the cowboy but it made me think maybe the conversation with the hitman was a fantasy as well, the last desperate fantasies of a vengeful, hurt Diane.
The last scene in the film is of the empty stage and the blue haired women saying silencio. I think she's urging silence before a performance, which is real life, the life we engage in when we leave the theater.
Diane/Betty and Rita/Camilla are both victims of the Hollywood system, they are constantly being forced into roles and realities that are not of their own making, just like performers working in Hollywood are at the whim of other people's fantasies, such as directors and studios. They are pushed into one reality after another, but the love between the two women remains and cannot be denied, the love scene was too sincere, especially coming from Lynch, to indicate anything else. It's not surprising that Rita/Camilla is the successful one, she arrives with no memory, a perfect blank slate for Hollywood to project itself onto. Eventually the reality shifting becomes too much for Diane and she breaks down and commits suicide.
Here are some point-by-point musings on your "dangling threads."
Joe the Hit Man.
I interpret the whole sequence where Joe kills 3 people trying to kill one as a manifestation of Dianne's misgivings about the professional abilities of the man she hired to kill Camilla. Remember, it's her dream. In this light, the pretext of why Joe had to kill Ed in the first place is less important. Seeing the black book at the diner would have naturally prompted Dianne's curiosity about how he operated. The fact that Joe is looking for Rita in this scene is consistent with the idea that his attempt to kill her failed, a construction in the sleeping mind of Dianne. Having had Camilla killed, Dianne now dreams that Camilla somehow escaped her fate (by the grace of the drunken teenagers crashing into the limo). It is easy to imagine that the part of Dianne that desires Camilla wants her to be alive, as well as the part of Dianne that feels guilty for having ordered her death.
The brainless prostitute bears a striking physical resemblance to Dianne. (Is it the same actress? Tell me. I haven't combed the credits.) I interpret this character to be Dianne's negative projection of self, just as Betty is her positive projection of self. Just as Betty's life reflects Dianne's hopes for her career (which I believe is a Winky's waitress who picks up bit acting roles), the prostitute reflects her worst fears regarding what her life might become, especially since she has just spent all the money Aunt Ruth left her to kill Camilla. Note that the prostitute enters a blue van at the conclusion of this scene, and we are back in Bettyland. More on this in a minute.
Aunt Ruth's Final Appearance.
...and just as Dianne's dream shifts back towards the premonition (possibly contemplation) of her own death, she sees her dead relative...aren't we supposed to see our dead relatives when we die? Not a very satisfying explanation, I'll admit, but it makes some sense visually: As the camera turns the corner past Aunt Ruth, we are back in Dianne's apartment, looking in on her. Aunt Ruth had looked in on the bed. Now the cowboy, in a similar posture, looks in on the bed with Dianne sleeping. But we're not in reality yet, because Dianne is wearing a black slip.
The Cowboy's Final Appearance
Let's replay this: First Dianne is sleeping in a black slip. Then the cowboy says "Time to wake up, pretty girl." Then Dianne is a corpse in that black slip. Then we see the cowboy who looks towards where the corpse is lying, and silently leaves. Then we hear Dianne's ex-lover knocking at the door, and Dianne wakes up. At this point, she is wearing a slip which I will call grey, even though it was one of those peachy-brown colors. So your questions:
Why does the Cowboy visit Diane to wake her up?
The cowboy is one of several "otherworldly" characters in this dream. As such, they are beings that see through the many layers of illusion in this and presumably, this life. They are Lynch's pantheon. When the cowboy talks to Adam, one gets the feeling that he is speaking directly to the audience, or directly to Diane. One contemplates his words almost automatically, because their simplicity penetrates the veils of illusion and speak in terms general enough to apply to lots of situations. So, when he says "you will see me once more if you do good, twice if you do bad," he's talking to Dianne, and imploring the audience to pay attention. Adam doesn't see him again at all in the dream, so he's obviously not speaking to Adam. But he does appear twice in Dianne's dream in rapid succession, just before she wakes up. This gives the viewer who has been paying attention a sense that things are about to take a dark turn, more specifically, that she's going to fulfill the dark prophesy of her dream. (Which they do, and which she does.)
You ask: "Was that a genuine flashback, in which Adam's friend stops by before the party but is unable to rouse Diane from her depressed sleep?" I answer: No, no, no. Remember the black slip vs. the grey (I just can't name that color) one.
The Final Appearance of the Blue Box
The blue box image recurs in several forms throughout the film. Some which I have not explored are Betty's luggage, the stage at the club Silencio, and Adam's ex-wife's jewelry box. One that struck me immediately, however is the blue van. When the old folks drive off in the limo, they are riding behind a blue van. The hitman has a blue van....it's clear that the blue boxes are transition portals from one mental state to another, as in dreaming-to-wakefulness when we dive out of the dream that constitutes the first 3/4 of the film. As such, the hysterically happy old people begin by FOLLOWING the van...what's to say they don't catch up with it, climb in, and emerge from the blue box later? Humor me here...That would mean that they transition from being dream imagery to being waking hallucinations? What about the hitman's blue van? Could it be the transition portal between Dianne's virgin/whore images of herself in her dream? I'm thinking so...perhaps.
Thanks for your excellent essay on Mulholland Drive. That you only make passing mention of the Gilda poster leads me to suspect that perhaps you haven't seen the movie. If you want to be the complete MD obsessive, you really should get hold of a copy at your local video store. Gilda is among the noirest of the noir, and there are a number of themes that connect it with MD. In Gilda, as in MD, the femme fatale attaches herself to a rather cold and unsympathetic power figure, who is also the employer of the spurned lover. And in both movies murder and revenge are in the air. There is a pretty good plot summary at:
It seems to me that there are one or two echoes of Gilda in the MD screenplay -- take a look at the quoted examples and see if you agree...
I believe that Diane dreamed everything after she pulled the trigger on that weapon. After Diane shot herself, she did not die right away. Most gun shot wounds to the mouth by small caliber guns do not cause explosive brain damage, as does a shot gun aimed at the roof of the mouth. Therefore, Diane would have lived for a few minutes (maybe up to five minutes), before succumbing to shock from hemorrhaging to death.
Therefore, in my opinion this is how I would sum up the movie from start to finish. While laying there on her death bed, Diane dreamed of what could have been -- hence "Rita & Betty," what was -- "Camille & Diane" and what is (death) -- culminating in the last scene of a fuzzy floating Rita & Betty with the LA lights in the background and finally the theatre lady saying "silencio."
Ayoe of Denmark
I just watched the movie Mulholland Drive and naturally I was pretty confused -- like you there were just these missing links I couldn't figure out. I got a lot of what I was looking for from your essay so thank a lot! *LOL* And when I continued to read your missing links I think I have something on one of them.
Aunt Ruth....your theory (which I agree totally on) is that 1) Ruth is dead 2) in Betty's life she's away. But here's my theory. The redheaded woman is Diane's neighbor or possible mother. See...in the beginning all we see is Ruth leaving her house with suitcases -- driven by a chauffeur and having nice red hair -- remind you of anything? When Betty and Rita goes to Diane's apartment they are startled by a man in the yard. Who is he picking up? A redheaded woman with suitcases also going somewhere. It might be a neighbor but it could also be Diane's mother -- the last person she had to cling to who left her and therefor no one could protect her from the grandparents. She's all alone.
My theory to the cowboys in the end saying "Hey pretty girl, time to wake up" The only time she saw the man was when he left the party at Adam's. It was right at that moment where it was really time to WAKE UP and smell the coffee and when he tell her too it is also time to wake up and face the facts and what you've done.
I also think that maybe the reason Betty can find Diane's body it sorta a symbol of her own mind fading away. She's trying to make her doing and her actual person -- Diane -- die so she can have the illusion of being the person of her dreams -- Betty.
Another thing -- the monster. In the beginning the man tells his friend -- "you were standing over there." (I actually thought to begin with these two guys were both cops.) He says he was scared of something in the backyard and that made him scared too. Well.....where is Diane sitting when she sees him? Where is the man himself standing?? This is where she does what will absorb her whole self and in the dream where it's the two guys -- the monster in the backyard I think it a symbol of what happened at that place. When the man (that is actually Diane herself) finds out what is behind the wall -- it kills him. Just like what Diane did inside the shop will end up killing her.
And finally -- I agree on some level on what David Dawson said - that the entire dream happens when Diane shoots herself. I think the lady with the blue hair is another symbol of the blue box. When Rita opens the box there's nothing but blackness inside. As you suggest Club Silencio is symbol like the blue box for the whole world. And as everything has been revealed for us the blue lady end with silence -- darkness...nothing more. The box has been opened and everything is out. Like darkness inside the box the word silence comes from her lips.
A few scribbled thoughts from someone who wrote a thesis on death in Dostoyevsky' Brothers K, and is therefore acutely tuned into three-based death symbolism. I think Lynch likes his Russian Lit.
Threes in Karamazov are everwhere as are doubled-up projections of the various characters. Katerina/Ivan; Mitya/Grushenka; Alyosha/Lisa and the central symbol is an amulet; carried around the neck as opposed to in the 'purse/bag'.
The Blue Box/Mitya's amulet in Brother's Karamazov; Both symbols of guilt, repressed moral culpability, sexual jealousy, blood money and a murder?
In Mulholland Drive, the amulet/box has a three sided key:
Death and threes: Three corners to the key and the lock -- and three deaths: two fantasy characters disappear and Diane is left to face her suicide. (three deaths) Echoed in: three deaths: the diner man (heart attack) and his two presaging dreams. The three people killed by the hit man. This itself makes a three... (The analyst, incidentally is in the same position in the man's dreams as the man is in Diane's -- which I see as a clue of sorts to the films cetral mystery of Death/murder...)
Death personified (in threes?) -- The down-and-out is 'controlling' all the action according to the man in the diner dreamer. (He/she is death? Sexually amiguous because it is Diane's self- image as down-and-out actor and spurned lover that brings about death; so Death is female....) Death in the nightclub too: of the singer who brings a death to the fantasy through her pertinent mime. The woman with blue hair who ends the film with the final 'silence' (of death itself -- the only triumpahant.) Making another group of three.
And there are three appearances of the blue box -- the last one in the draw is needed to complete its trinity.
Three phantoms of guilt: the aparition of Camilla, the apparitions of the two Grandparents. Three appearances by the cowboy, three threatened appearances by the cowboy.
Other questions: Does the key appear six times (three in fantasy guise, three in real?). Is the realtionship of the key to the box -- the realtionship of the will to kill to the outcome of the killing. The money may have been paid and the deed done by a third party, but the guilt for the killing returns to Diane
Further mysteries: But who is the cowboy....? I can't help feeling that he is the psycho-mythical (dream) manifestation of the real hitman. Why is the man with the moustache the person who warns Adam and also the person that drags the singer off stage?
A major thread running through this film is what a nasty business show business is, and how it can destroy the lives of those it touches.
Club Silencio is the venue where Hollywood-style showbiz is exposed as a worthless illusion -- it is a part of showbiz, and its harshest critic. 'No hay banda', the compere states -- there is no band, it is an illusion, a tape. He performs some illusions, then himself disappears -- literally in a puff of blue smoke. A singer, Rebekah del Rio takes his place, and appears to sing a moving Spanish version of 'Crying', which also turns out to be an illusion -- she dies during her performance, but the taped song she had been miming continues.
Not your average fans, the audience sit, jaded, silently and dispassionately absorbing Club Silencio's message -- there is nothing of substance in show business; it is equivalent to silence.
The blue box then appears in Betty's bag. An explanation of its appearance is unnecessary at this point; the dream narrative abandons any attempt at consistency when Rita awakes mouthing 'Silencio'. They hurry home, impatient to see what is in the box. Rita retrieves the key, and Betty abruptly disappears. Rita, after a perfunctory search for Betty, takes the key, opens the box and disappears too. Rita and Betty are also illusions, products of Diane's dream. The illusions of dreams and of show business are compared.
The blue box represents show business. It glows an otherworldly shade of blue, irresistible, impenetrable except to those with a key -- talent. Once opened, it consumes all, as it does Rita, yet it is empty -- again, there is nothing inside.
The hobo/monster behind Winkie's is a puppeteer, the ugly and malevolent force controlling Hollywood. The blue box is his plaything. Dan, the young man who sees the monster in a recurring nightmare, says "there's a man...in back of this place. He's the one ... he's the one that's doing it. I can see him through the wall. I can see his face and I hope I never see that face ever outside a dream."
Consistently blue is used to symbolise show business -- the blue neon sign and the blue entrance of Club Silencio, the puff of blue smoke, the blue box. In the case of the blue haired woman in the balcony, it tells the viewer that she is a performer. She repeats the club's message, 'Silencio.' The film's last word damns show business.
The elderly couple might symbolise showbiz fans - superficial, easily amused, unquestioning, with fixed inane grins, they crave entertainment and encourage Betty to chase her dream in Hollywood. Betty welcomes their encouragement and assistance at first, but in her insane vision they persecute her, scurrying like cockroaches from the monster's tawdry bag, under her door, leering and grasping at her, demanding her attention and driving her to suicide.
Rita and Betty are two examples of characters 'burned' by Hollywood, but maybe David Lynch feels he is a victim too. Knowing that MD was the pilot for a proposed TV series, and knowing of Lynch's dissatisfaction with ABC's treatment of his pilot script, could it not be that he took an intentionally unfinished product -- a pilot script that left questions for a series to answer -- and 'finished it off' as a damning critique of showbusiness? This might also explain Lynch's reluctance to discuss the meaning of this film in too much depth and risk burning his bridges. What network executive would like to be compared to the monster behind Winkie's?
Your explication was fantastic and really help to answer and organize the questions and thoughts that have been swirling tumultuously within my head. Since I have only seen the movie twice, I don't claim any sort of authority but I would like to toss out some impressions I got from the film, your interpretation and the visitors' comments.
I see the troubled young man at Winkies as the projection of Dianne's guilty conscience. She sees him immediately after ordering the hit and he looks at her as if to say, "I know what you've done." Since he could not possibly know he becomes a manifestation of Dianne's guilt and paranoia -- the same way a shoplifter panics if an employee's glance lasts too long, or drug runner zig-zags when innocent headlights appear behind him. In the dream sequence he embodies the guilty conscience because he is plagued by the terrifying vision of the monster, representing the deed itself. The relationship between the young man and the monster is analogous to Dianne and the tiny grandparents: evil deed affecting the guilty conscience/superego.
In what I've read so far, the theme of fate vs. free will seems much overlooked -- although this opinion may be biased because I view fate vs. free will to be the dominant theme and subject matter of the film. Remember, the first two thirds of the movie center around an accident and so much of the story depends on shadowy figures pulling strings from behind curtains. Perhaps this is prevelant in Dianne's dream to releave her from the burden of accountability. I also liked the idea of the film's closing word, "silencio," being a command issued because the real show -- what we call reality -- will begin as we leave the movie behind. Then "No hay banda" is meant to tell us that there is no free will, everything in our reality has been prerecorded liked the soundtrack of the show.
The scene between Joe the hitman and his friend (Ed?) then ceases to be a loose thread because it becomes a scene marking the triumph of fate or preordination over free will. Joe was told to murder Ed and obtain the black book; the comic brutality that follows is not percieved by the viewer as accidents but rather poetic justice, karma or fate.
Mulholland Drive is the Jesus story and Paulist (Nietzsche would say that post-crucifixion Christian theology can't be attributed to Christ) theology, presented beautifully, in a modern context, with gender of God, Christ and Judas switched.
Physical life is a dream. It is not permanent. It is not real. It is only a dream - a tape. It is, however, an audition. Individual people have only so much control over their script, but how one reads/lives it determines his eternal condition, and collectively, man's "attitude" determines his destiny.
Adam is man - Adam. He is the Director - he has been given free will but chooses wrongly, even after being reminded of the appropriate choice by his agent and the Castigliani brothers, who have recently landed in Hollywood.
As a result of Adam's choice, "everything" must be "shut down." Adam drives "home" to the beautiful house with blue and pink bushes (trees) - blue symbolizing virtue, the sacred, truth, the immortal, and pink symbolizing jealousy, the physical, the mortal. Adam catches his wife in bed with Jake (who wears a shirt with a picture of a snake on the front, and who works for "Gene Clean" pool cleaning company - his job is to clean the gene pool), and experiences jealousy. He chooses pink - he covers his wife's jewelry - a symbol of divinity - in pink paint, a symbol of human jealousy. In the process he is covered in pink paint as well, and is exiled. His wife calls him a "bastard" and says, "damn you Adam." A while later, when the mob comes looking for Adam, and states that the house is Adam's, the wife says, "like hell it is." Adam drives to "Cooky's downtown" - notice the picture on his wall.
There is a car accident - and somehow Rita/Camilla, a popular actress, survives, though she loses her jewelry and her memory in the process. The word is passed via calls to telephones under electric lights - the girl is still missing. Missing from the automobile - her tomb. The girl makes her way to Havenhurst (Heaven), and rests under a garden of birds of paradise before sneaking into apartment 12. Ruth does not recognize Rita/Camilla even though she is right under the table on which lies Ruth's key. Ruth has chosen the physical world - the mortal world - and can no longer see the spiritual.
Open with Betty landing - landing - in Hollywood. Ruth is Diane's eternal soul - become mortal. Both Ruth and Diane, who in the physical world was Camilla's friend and follower, pack and leave apartment number 12 - they both "left the 12." The apartments are the same - notice the same set of cowboy hats hanging on the wall.
Coco, "the Manager," of "Havenhurst," with all the heavy but tasteful jewelry, is God, "in all my living glory." Adam, upon being again reminded, this time by the Cowboy (Christ resurrected - the raised skull and the flickering light symbolize "the resurrection and the light"), that if he changes his attitude he can come along for the ride, ultimately chooses Camilla - and "the Judge" returns his "pool" to him.
Adam refers to Coco as "my mother" at the dinner party for which Diane is late. The dinner party is, of course, the last supper. Hence the big glass of wine between Adam and Camilla. Hence the kiss, symbolizing Diane's betrayal. Hence the long table. Hence Coco's scornful reference to "the movies."
Dan Hedaya is Lucifer. He wears a t-shirt with an x'd out cross on the front. The long-haired man is the son of God. He has rented office space in a low-rise, and arranged the accident - notice the white car crashing into the black car. Dan Hedaya steals the phone book - the message of the girl's "resurrection" had been passed by telephone. Hedaya sets up the hit on Camilla. He later asks a prostitute if she has seen Camilla - why would a prostitute know the whereabouts of a Hollywood actress? Jesus associated with prostitutes. Notice that the prostitute rejects Hedaya's offer of a meal from the restaurant that served "pinks." Hedaya kills the Son of God, the "Health+" woman in the office next door - he tries to do so quietly, and tries to make it look like a suicide, but absurdly fails to cover his crime.
Ruth comes to Hollywood as Betty but discovers herself as Diane. Camilla comes to Hollywood as Rita. Diane is an aspiring actress, initially a competitor but ultimately a protege or follower of Camilla Rhodes. Diane becomes jealous of Camilla and has her killed. Betty and Rita love each other, physically and spiritually. They both engage in a quest to find themselves and each other. Rita/Camilla is horrified when she sees the corpse in Diane Selwyn's apartment - horrified at the mortality/depravity of man, of the physical. She knows what happened. She is at once horrified by what Betty/Diane has done and by the repurcussions to Betty/Diane and to man. Betty tells her, "I know what you have to do, but let me do it," and dresses Rita up in a blonde wig, resembling an absurd version of Betty.
Rita/Camilla takes Betty/Diane to the blue nightclub - Club Silencio - where it is revealed that (a) real, physical life, is the dream, is the fleeting, but that (b) the two still love each other and weep for each other, despite the decisions of each - Rita/Camilla feels only love, while Betty shakes with the thunderclap of judgment from above.
When they return to Havenhurst and the blue box is taken out of the hat box, Betty is gone - there is only Diane, the physical, the mortal manifestation. We again see Ruth leaving Havenhurst, to "act in Canada."
Before guilt overcomes Diane, before Diane kills herself as Judas did, she reflects on the cross formed by the window slats of the third window beneath her shade, as she waits for her coffee to percolate. It is time to wake up from the dream. Before she does, Camilla reappears, perfect, almost ghost-like - "you've come back," Diane says. Diane is made aware of the return, the resurrection, of what she's done, before the consequences occur. Rita loves Betty. Camilla loves Diane. But Ruth/Betty/Diane will still be judged, will still suffer mortality, will still be held in a paper bag by the man behind Winkie's - the eternal consequence of the choice that has been made.
Diane's phone rang too - and was ignored, allowed to ring repeatedly, next to a used ashtray - ashes to ashes... On the other end was Camilla inviting her to her party - Diane ultimately came but only after making her choice.
The opportunity to choose rightly, the opportunity to return to Eden, to the "pool," the house on the hill, to immortality, has been restored to man. Diane has chosen wrongly, experiences the consequences - and the indignity of revelation of those consequences: Silencio!
Mulholland Dr is about a girl (Camilla Rhodes) who shells her soul to the devil for fame. He shell her soul and dies when reachs sucess and marry to Adam. Diane dreams all the movie after dead, Cowboy is a Devil send and Castigliani & the blonde Camilla are part of it too. The whole movie is about about Diane's soul on "limbo" (spanish word I don't know how to translate), the place where suicide's souls go. She has to dream again and again about fall in love with Camilla and loss her when she waken up. I have many explainings for all the caracthers, but my english skills are not too good for it.
Thanks for the very helpful essay. I finally saw this movie and really loved it. Very fascinating.
What if the Blue Box is simply a metaphor for movies, and by extension the way that Dianne's delusions or hallucinations in this film take the form of Hollywood cliches? Lynch seems preoccupied with the way people model their fantasies - and their lives - on movies (and how he models his movies on movies, sometimes his own), and likes to juxtpose this with mundane or grisly realism. The blue box makes me think of the blue screen, which visual effects are (or used to be) filmed against, or projected upon.
Club Silencio was reminiscent of Lynch's Shakespearian moments, where a show-within-the-show helps explain the entire work to both the fictional and literal audience. It's where the fantasy starts to break up in Dianne's mind. They keep saying "none of this is real," or words to that effect.
What if Dianne dreams the entire movie in the split second after she shoots herself?
I have to keep watching it.
Forget the names.
Blondie is a hooker, big dreams of Hollywood long faded.
Vampy 1 is her idealised objectifed 'neighbour' with whom she is in love, who lives with her and who is now leaving her.
Vampy 2 is also a fellow pro. who has moved stables from pimp bob brooker to flashier pimp Adam Kirscner. Blondie is jealous because of better business and also because she is in love with vampy 2 and this is why neighbour is leaving her (who is also condensed and displaced here into a version of vampy). Blonde hitman is really Bob brooker looking for vampy 2 to kill/beat up for leaving his stable. Hence battered figure behind winkies distorted in dream dimensia
the blue key is neigbour leaving blondie. blondie breaks down.
your real narrative and dreamt narrative are both dreams. The 'base' narrative is different again.
I'd give more detail but I've broken my arm and can't type fast. I'll explain with more detail in four weeks. Magnificent site.
Just read your article on Mulholland and found your explanation intriguing. I've just watched the film and, like you, have become a bit obsessed about what's it all about. I think you're nearly there in the article, but far far prefer the explanation offered on the following website:
particularly the key scene and the idea that this one scene (the one where Diane is taken to the meal with Camilla held at the directors house) influences dianes dream. The explanation for the cowboy also makes a lot of sense really.
I enjoyed reading the review/deconstruction of Lynch's Mulholland Drive that is on your website. Like you I was also captivated by the film - although in my case I tried to avoid thinking too much about the meaning of it all for fear of spoiling the magic.
However, there was one very small element of the film that I noticed and which I don't think you picked up on and, although I haven't read all the visitor's comments, they may not have picked up on either.
In my DVD version of the film there is a pamphlet insert featuring a list of ten questions from Lynch that it is claimed will help you "unlock" the meaning of the film. One of the questions is "What is transmitted at Club Silencio?" - this obviously refers to the incident at the theatre when the emcee seems to frazzle Betty with lightning and she begins to jerk around in her seat.
So what is transmitted here? I guess the obvious explanation is: electricity. Following this through it occurs to me that the blue key that is featured in the film sometimes has the form of a type of utility key that is often used to turn electricity on and off. What this might mean I have no idea (!) however, if you Google on '"David Lynch" Electricity' you'll see that electricity (and other "strange forces") is something of a theme in his work - so there might be some significance here.
A slightly more esoteric possibility is that what was being transmitted at Club Silencio was Shakti, a spiritual force that is passed from Guru to disciple and which is said to empower the disciple's spiritual practice. Interestingly this transmission often causes spontaneous physical shaking in the receiver, with the involuntary movements being known as Kriyas. (You may already know all this, of course).
If this explanation is true then this "transmission" comes at the point in the film where Betty begins to emerge from her fantasy and back to the surface of awareness. In other words, the transmission has empowered her to emerge from the dream world, or to begin ejecting all the traumatic contents from her subconsious, the emergence of which forms the latter part of the film. Here's a couple of quotes I found from Lynch about meditation:
"I meditate in the morning and in the evening, for half an hour each time. I don't know what my life would be without meditation and I never have missed one session anywhere. I've meditated every day for the past 23 years. It cleans the nervous system, which is the instrument of consciousness. Little by little, a person becomes a hair more aware of what's going on. The bad things that happen don't hit you so hard, and you're not overpowered by success. Success can be even more dangerous than failure. " "Well, you know, I'm a meditator, and the idea of that is to expand consciousness by clearing the machines of consciousness, which is the nervous system, and the greater the consciousness, you know... I think in the analogy of fishing, the deeper your hook can go to catch the bigger ideas. And its very important to get down in there. Sitting comfortably, in a chair, drifting off, not trying to manipulate what's in front of you, sometimes you can drop into a beautiful area or bounce up to higher whichever way you want to see it into a beautiful area and catch ideas."
It seems to me that Lynch may have been playing with the electricity/Shakti theme during the Club Silencio scene.
I know this is a small observation in the context of the whole film (most of which left me clueless!), but I thought it might be another piece in the jigsaw.
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6 June 2004