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Official MULHOLLAND DRIVE Discussion Thread


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#1 of 134 OFFLINE   Tony Mirra

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Posted October 11 2001 - 08:56 AM

This movie has several characters that function like the Mystery Man in Lost Highway. The Cowboy, the scary guy behind the dumpster, the old couple at the airport, and I think even Coco are all somewhat supernatural characters who can ride between the different layers, breaking them apart to prevent Diane/Betty from sustaining her fantasy. Like the MM, they may be aspects of her subconscious given corporeal form.

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#2 of 134 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted October 11 2001 - 10:04 AM

This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "Mulholland Drive". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

All HTF member film reviews of "Mulholland Drive" should be posted to this thread .

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


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#3 of 134 OFFLINE   Thi Them

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Posted October 11 2001 - 10:29 AM

Tony, the only Lynch works I've seen are The Elephant Man, Dune, Blue Velvet, The Straight Story, and Twin Peaks.

Yeah, I got the idea that Diane's fantasy was falling apart. When she receives the blue key at the end, she can no longer fantasize since Rita/Camille is dead, so she kills herself to end it all--silencio.

I'm going to try to watch again tomorrow when it opens. The lesbian scenes will be worth the ticket price alone. Posted Image

~T

#4 of 134 OFFLINE   Thi Them

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Posted October 11 2001 - 12:06 PM

The Cowboy said he would appear once if the director picked Camille and twice if he didn't. During the party at the end when the director is with the real Camille, he appears in the background. Now if I remember correctly, didn't he appear twice next to the door of the room with the corpse? If this is true, then the reason for this is because Camille is dead and the director can no longer pick her. Right?

~T

#5 of 134 OFFLINE   Ken_Pro

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Posted October 11 2001 - 12:32 PM

Thi, you can say you thought the first half was a dream, but don't say that it WAS a dream. There's more than one interpretation.

I for one can't believe that someone like David Lynch would be that hackneyed -- that he'd pass off 100 minutes of film as nothing but one character's daydream. I think the movie's more complex than that.

Besides, how can it all be Diane's dream if she isn't in all of the scenes? Are you saying that it's one big collective dream of several characters? I'd buy that before thinking it's all in Diane's head.

#6 of 134 OFFLINE   Thi Them

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Posted October 11 2001 - 01:21 PM

Ken, you're entitled to your interpretation, as well as I am to mine. I've found that many people forget to use words/phrases such as "I think" or "In my opinion," and that many posts (especially with a topic dealing with different interpretations), should be read with some degree that the writer is stating his/her opinion.

I'd like to read your interpretation of the first half or so. I would still describe it as a dream, a complex one. I don't think Betty has to appear in all those scenes in order for it to be Diane's dream. I know that when I dream or daydream, I don't always see myself in there.

~T



#7 of 134 OFFLINE   Mark Pfeiffer

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Posted October 12 2001 - 01:07 AM

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced this is the best film I've seen this year.

I'm not too concerned with trying to figure it all out. In some ways, I think it's more enjoyable if you don't.

The general sense I made of it was this:
--Betty (the blonde) came to Hollywood with big dreams. She became friends with Rita, another struggling actress.
--Rita (or whatever name you want to give her) caught a bigger break first. Betty becomes jealous.
--Betty hires a man to kill Rita so she can take her place.
--Rita either escapes being killed because of a car crash or Rita is killed. (The conflicting scenes lead me to believe that Betty feels guilty over Rita's death or fear of being discovered because Rita escaped.)
--Betty commits suicide.

Certainly there's so much going on in this film that it is impossible to comprehend it fully in one viewing.

Some other thoughts...
--I think Lynch is saying at one point that the quickest route to fame is to be young and pretty and die tragically.
--I sort of took the director as a stand-in for Lynch.
--I think that the older people are Betty's parents or grandparents. (Don't we see them with her in those shots in which she has one some kind of award?)

Anyone want to bet this film is one of the more polarizing films here at HTF when it goes wider?
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#8 of 134 OFFLINE   Matt_Stevens

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Posted October 12 2001 - 01:29 AM

Will I like this movie?

I loved Twin Peaks, I liked Dune, Straight Story and Elephant Man.

I disliked Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart with a passion. I hated Fire Walk With Me.

So where does Drive fit into the game plan and should I risk it?

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#9 of 134 OFFLINE   Tony Mirra

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Posted October 12 2001 - 01:32 AM

I agree with Mark on his points. I think this is the best movie I've seent this year, and it is definitely my favorite Lynch film.

I think that everything that happens in the first 3/4 of the movie is not real and either is some kind of altered reality or a delusion formed by Diane/Betty after she experiences a schizoid episode similar to what happened to Fred in Lost Highway. Betty does not exist; Betty is really Diane. Rita does not exist; Rita is really Camilla.

This involves many layers:
Layer #1, Reality (what we see right after the key is put into the blue box): Diane is a failed actress. She came to LA with big dreams of breaking into the movies, but couldn't succeed at it. She was probably working as a waitress at Denny's. Somewhere along the line she started a relationship with another woman and they moved in together.

Diane had a big movie audition but lost the part to Camilla, who was much more glamorous and talented. Camilla feels sorry for Diane and convinces the director to cast her in a bit part, but Diane feels as though she has been condescended to. Diane sinks into depression and alcoholism. Her love affair with the other woman goes sour, and the woman moves out, going to another bungalow in the same complex. She leaves her lamp and some of her possessions at Diane's place and will come back for them later. Diane harbors much jealousy and resentment for Camilla, who she believes stole her big break. She believes Camilla seduced the director of the picture. She hires a hit man to kill Camilla, and then Diane has her schizoid episode.

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Layer #2, The First Fantasy: Diane cannot accept reality, and so concocts in her mind a new fantasy scenario for her life. She pictures herself as a young and talented ingenue named Betty fresh off the plane into LA ("This city, it's like a dream"). Betty is sweet and innocent and everybody loves her. She is so talented that when she has her first audition she knocks it out of the ballpark and the casting agent scurries her away to introduce her to a real power-player director.

In this fantasy Camilla becomes Rita, a helpless woman who must rely on Betty. Rita is not a threat to Betty in any way. They must work together, and soon they even fall in love.

Elements of the real world begin intruding on this fantasy. When Betty goes off to the set of the big director's movie, she catches the eye of the director but is never even given a chance to audition. The lead for this movie has already been taken, by a woman named.... yes, Camilla. This Camilla was given the lead in the movie through shady means. Obviously, she wouldn't have been cast over Betty any other way. The director was forced to give Camilla the part by a weird organized crime syndicate. Strange, dark things are behind this.

Other bizarre things have been lurking around the edges of this fantasy all along. The pleasant old couple who she met at the airport break into a suspicious cackle. There's the scary guy behind the dumpster, the Cowboy, Mr. Roque, and the people (including the hit man) chasing Rita for unexplained reasons. Then, towards the end, Rita changes her hairstyle and starts to look just like the other Camilla.

Fantasy #1 finally collapses after the Silencio Bar scene. The secret box (Pandora's box?) they find under the chair opens with Rita's key and everything falls apart. Diane's memories have been unlocked.

At this point I believe the movie segues briefly back to reality. We see Diane living in squalor. Her former lover returns to pick up her lamp and other possessions. Diane is pathetic. In a desperate attempt to rewrite her existence again, we move to...

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Layer #3, the Second Fantasy: This fantasy is much darker than the first one. Diane also has a much weaker hold on this one. Bits and pieces of reality seem to be fluxing in and out with this fantasy, making it hard to tell which is which.

Diane is still herself. When her old lover leaves (taking the lamp with her), Diane twists her in her mind to now become Camilla (the real one). You'll notice that when Camilla shows up the lamp is back on the table. In this fantasy, Diane has been having an affair with Camilla, but Camilla betrays her and seduces the movie director instead to further her career. This is the motivation that Diane uses when she hires the hit man. She can't face up to the fact that she is really just a petty person who wanted Camilla dead out of paranoia and revenge for a wrong that another woman inflicted on her.

Some of the things we see during this section of the movie may be part of the fantasy, or may be reality… Adam's party, for example. It could be that this is part of reality and Camilla is simply trying to be friendly to her because she feels sorry for Diane, but Diane deliberately misinterprets Camilla's behavior to stay consistent with her love affair/betrayal fantasy.

This fantasy falls apart at the film's end, when all of Diane's 'demons' chase after her and overwhelm her, forcing her to face up to her reality, and this leads to her suicide.
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So, looking at it this way, things like the two Camillas or Adam switching from married to single still fit into place. They are elements of the different narrative layers, and Diane is mixing and matching them, incorporating elements from one layer into the other with changes as she sees fit.

I'm beginning to believe that there are really only two Mystery Men here. The Cowboy, dumpster man, and the old man are all the same person. Coco, the old lady, and possibly the woman singing at the Silencio are also the same person. This is just a theory.

There are loopholes, unfortunately. If the entire movie is Diane's fantasy, why does she create elaborate side-plots for the peripheral characters? There are many scenes that don't involve Diane at all. Why would Diane create the whole Mr. Roque conspiracy when something much simpler would have sufficed in her mind? Why does the Cowboy confront Adam, rather than Diane? Why bother creating the police investigating the car crash when all of that could easily happen outside the scope of her life? (Lynch must have realized this, because he cut Robert Forster's only other scene completely out of the movie).

The only explanation is that Diane is struggling to make a comprehensive fantasy world that involves more than just herself, and the two Mystery Men are adding to it, making it more twisted and cumbersome so that it will implode under its own weight.


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#10 of 134 OFFLINE   Thi Them

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Posted October 12 2001 - 03:53 AM

I'm with Tony and Mark. Not only is this the best movie I've seen this year, but it's the probably the best of the past few years.

Quote:
There are loopholes, unfortunately. If the entire movie is Diane's fantasy, why does she create elaborate side-plots for the peripheral characters?

If its a dream (as opposed to fantasy), then I think she really has no control over what happens in them. Things get intertwined in dreams, or at least in some of mine. Diane's dream starts to end when the blue box appears during the Silencio act, when the act differentiates reality and illusion. I see the blue box as the door to reality, and the blue key, Camille's death and all the reasons behind it (Diane's life), as the key to that door.

~T

#11 of 134 OFFLINE   Tony Mirra

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Posted October 12 2001 - 04:01 AM

http://www.suntimes.....ws-mul12f.html

surprise, surprise. Ebert actually liked it!

He mentions something that occurred to me earlier, but I forgot to mention. What if Diane(Betty)/Camille(Rita) aren't even different people? What if it's all Diane's fantasy? What if it's all Camille's fantasy?

There's so much to this. It's really quite brilliant.

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#12 of 134 OFFLINE   Ken_Pro

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Posted October 13 2001 - 04:42 PM

Tony, I agree with everything you say except the part about the lamp, and the fantasy that Diane and Camilla are lovers.

It was a piano ashtray, not a lamp, that the woman from Bungalow #12 took from Diane's coffee table. Later on when Diane and Camilla are half-naked on the couch, the ashtray is back on there.

I think Diane and Camilla actually had a brief affair. Why else would the woman in Bungalow #12 move out? I think Camilla seduced Diane the same way she was later seducing the "blonde" Camilla (who was obviously not Camilla at that point) with a kiss at Adam's party. (You hear Camilla whisper "Give me a kiss.") It's possible that it was just a friendly kiss that Diane misinterpreted in her paranoia, but it seems to me that Diane would not be so devastated by Camilla's condescending treatment unless there were something deeper involved.

At the very least, Diane was in love with her. If she was only fantasizing about sexual encounters with Camilla, okay then...sexual frustration helped to drive her crazy. But if there were no real affair and Diane wasn't in love with Camilla, I don't see how Diane could build an elaborate wish-fulfillment fantasy around a love affair with a woman she hates...unless she thinks it would demean the glamorous Camilla to have an affair with Diane, the loser waif....and that sort of self-loathing is fascinating to think about too...God, there are so many ways to think about this. Posted Image

But why the shot of the ashtray on the table, while Diane and Camilla are kissing and then fighting on the couch? The ashtray is real, unlike the blue box. That was a hint to me that they were really on that couch and Camilla was telling her it's over. Camilla was in control of that situation, not Diane...and in practically every part of Diane's fantasy, Diane is the one in charge. So I think that couch scene was a real moment, and the two women were lovers for a brief time, and that helped motivate Diane to bump her off.

#13 of 134 ONLINE   Tino

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Posted October 22 2001 - 09:54 AM

Yikes! Talk about a film that's open to interpretation. Posted Image

There are countless way to interpret the brilliance of this film and having just returned from seeing it, I sill need some time.

For now, however I don't believe any of it was a dream, but it ceratinly can be interpreted as one I suppose.

I for one like to think of it as a disturbed surrealistic delusional mystery fantasy about failed dreams, shattered hopes, petty jealousy, love and desire tragically unfulfilled in Hollywood U.S.A.!

How's dat? Posted Image

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#14 of 134 OFFLINE   Richard Kim

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Posted October 22 2001 - 11:52 PM

At first my initial thought was what we were seeing in the movie was from Rita/Camilla's POV, as she is still dazed from the bump on her head she suffered as a result of the car crash,(when she's about to open the blue box, Betty disappears for good) but I could also see how it could also be Betty/Diane's nightmare.

Also, did anyone notice that the elderly couple chasing Diane at the end was I believe the same couple that greets Betty when she first arrives in LA. Perhaps they symbolize her hopes and aspirations, but now that she's a failure, they've come back to haunt her.

[Edited last by Richard Kim on October 23, 2001 at 08:11 AM]

#15 of 134 OFFLINE   Mark Pfeiffer

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Posted October 23 2001 - 01:18 AM

If you look closely, that same couple is with her when she is assumedly being named the winner of the jitterbug competition. I always thought they were her parents or grandparents and in dream logic had received a different role.

There is an excellent analysis of the film located here:

Salon.com article
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#16 of 134 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted October 23 2001 - 02:22 AM

Quote:
What if Diane(Betty)/Camille(Rita) aren't even different people? What if it's all Diane's fantasy? What if it's all Camille's fantasy?

This is very much how I viewed it.

There's "Betty", the good girl from "next door" come to make it big in Hollywood.

There's "Rita", the glamorous and voluptuous vixen who represents the Hollywood ideal to which "Betty" aspires. Her name, "Rita", taken from the GILDA poster emphasizes this, as does her ultimate success.

There's "Diane", the down-and-out junkie/whore, representing the depths to which aspiring actress "Betty" might plunge.

What's peculiar is that we've seen many films dealing with a "split" personality (most recently Fight Club), but here we have 3, or even 4 distinct personalities. All aspects of the same person? All potential fates? Does "Diane/Betty" represent the real fate? Or "Rita/Camille"?

I found it interesting that the sex scenes grow increasingly desperate and frustrating - and go from two lovers to a single person masturbating - suggesting to me that the scene in the bedroom and the first scene on the couch (both involving "Betty" and "Rita") were actually the masturbatory fantasies of a single persona. This is suggested by the final "sex scene", in which we find "Betty" alone on the couch, masturbating in a desperately unsexy, even violent manner, the lonely solipsism of a single person.
"Only one is a wanderer;
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#17 of 134 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted October 23 2001 - 02:58 AM

BTW, I just read the excellent Salon.com overview - thanks for the link!

I wonder, however, if they're focusing too heavily on the "murder plot" as being real. Possibly, yes. But another interpretation might be Diane's suicide rationalization. That is, just as all her/their (Betty/Rita) snooping around possessed elements straight out of the genre formulas of Hollywood movies, so too is the notion of a voluptuous actress meeting a strange fate in a limo on Mulholland Drive (replete with dark hitmen and crazy teenaged drag-racers). In addition to genre elements, these could also be viewed as tropes from the real-life fates of bigtime Hollywood stars - something "Betty/Diane" would be well aware of. She would likely romanticize these tragic events, conflating her own sordid, horrible and impending death with such romantic elements.

What I keep coming back to is the moment when everything changes, that is, the moment when Betty and Rita return from Silencio - which, to me, is crucial in that the performance there emphasizes the disconnect between the performer/performance, between the voice we see singing and the voice we hear on the tape. It seems to suggest that the words coming out of Rita's mouth (and perhaps Betty's, as well) are the product of another mind/imagination... this one, these two are just marionettes, projections of a single personality possessing the power of the ventriloquist.

Salon describes the scene that follows Silencio (emphasis mine): "They go home. Rita turns to the closet. When she turns around, Betty has disappeared. Rita uses the key to open the box. She's apparently sucked into it; we zoom into it, presumably from her point of view, and it drops to the floor. The movie suddenly changes. We're back at the dead Diane's apartment. We hear knocks at her door; we even see the mysterious cowboy again! "Hey, pretty girl, time to wake up," he says.

So, are Rita and Betty merely projections in Diane's dream? Facets of her own hopes and personality? Is there a murder? Or only a suicide?

[Edited last by Al Brown on October 23, 2001 at 10:01 AM]
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#18 of 134 OFFLINE   Tony Mirra

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Posted October 23 2001 - 04:47 AM

quote:
So, are Rita and Betty merely projections in Diane's dream? Facets of her own hopes and personality? Is there a murder? Or only a suicide?[/quote]

Having seen MD a second and third time, I have no doubt that Diane really hired a hit on Camilla. I took the sequences that follow Diane making coffee in the kitchen (ie, fooling around with Camilla on the sofa, dinner at the director's home, talking with the hit man in Winkie's) as reality, but flashbacks; a way for Lynch to show what had lead Diane to this point... jealous, broken, and, now, murderer.

The dream sequence that makes up the initial 3/4 of the film is very clever in that it takes very small details from the reality sequences of the last quarter and turns them into complete subplots in the dreams.

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[Edited last by Tony Mirra on October 23, 2001 at 11:51 AM]

#19 of 134 OFFLINE   Ken_Pro

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Posted October 23 2001 - 11:38 AM

Quote:
Having seen MD a second and third time, I have no doubt that Diane really hired a hit on Camilla.

I agree with this, and for me the proof is in the scene where Diane's neighbor from #12 (who is also, I believe, an ex-lover) comes by to get her stuff. She asks Diane where she's been, saying "It's been three weeks," and she mentions "those two detectives came by to see you again."

Since I believe that scene between Diane and her neighbor happens in the real world, then Diane running away for 3 weeks, and the 2 detectives coming to visit her are also real. There would be no reason, as far as I can tell, for her to run away like that, and for policemen to be looking for her, unless she'd done something drastic.

Another little detail I didn't catch until the second viewing is the phone that doesn't get answered in the beginning. That's Diane's phone. Since that unanswered call is preceded by Mr. Roque telling an underling "she's still missing," I gather that in Diane's fantasy world, the mysterious men at the top of the Hollywood food chain are reacting to her flight, in a quietly diabolical way, just as she imagines them to be evil men.

Quote:
The dream sequence that makes up the initial 3/4 of the film is very clever in that it takes very small details from the reality sequences of the last quarter and turns them into complete subplots in the dreams.

I don't want to sound like I'm harping here, but I think it's wrong to refer to Diane's fantasies as "dreams." Maybe outside a Lynch movie it wouldn't make any difference, but throughout Lynch's work he has clearly drawn a line between "dreams" and "fantasies." In "dreams," the main character is a passive observer, and through the dream he or she gains some knowledge, insight, or intuitive understanding. "Fantasies" are different: in a fantasy, the main character is active, controlling, and all-powerful. What Diane shows us in the first 3/4 of the movie is her "fantasy," not her "dream."

One thing I have gotten out of Lynch in movie after movie, including this one, is that we should listen to our dreams and not our fantasies.

#20 of 134 OFFLINE   Tom-G

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Posted October 28 2001 - 01:01 PM

Just got back from seeing this film. What a fantastic film it is! Trying to explain what it's about is a difficult challenge in and of itself.

I couldn't help but think of Sunset Boulevard throughout the screening. There was the obvious--the street sign, but the connection I'm speaking of was the Hollywood lifestyle (real or imagined) and aspirations exhibited by the main characters in each movie.

My interpretation of the Rita and Betty was the expression of duality. The contrasting blonde and brunette hair. Both become "thespians" of sorts and then the unification through the lesbian encounters.

I need to screen this movie one more time to get the full experience. It's extremely interesting to read so many interpretations.

Another brilliant effort by David Lynch.

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