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A possible explanation for Lost Highway?


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#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Paul_D

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Posted September 22 2001 - 02:37 AM

There are so many holes in this potential explanation of the otherwise mystifying plot of Lost Highway that I cant even count them, but here goes anyway.

What if Bill Pullman's character committed suicide in jail and went through a mutated form of reincarnation while in that jail cell. IN a type of Sixth Sense plot, but with the unrested spectre input into anotherbody, rather than haunting someone till they solve the ghost's ploblem/mystery, Pullman's soul, now free, looks for someone who has the potential contacts/qualities to solve the mystery. Thus it is transported into the body of Balthazar Getty, without his knowledge, given that he already has a link to the murder/mystery through his work at the garage, soon to be visited by Robert Loggia. Then, in a bid to find his wife's killer, Bill Pullman's soul, subconsciously driving Balthazar Getty leads him down a path, pursuing the remarkably familiar blonde Patricia Arquette, which will possibly lead to the discovery of the killer, or whether his wife is really dead. The only possibilities is that both Arquettes are the same, or that they are twin sisters.

There was clearly a sexual tension between Pullman and his wife. The sex scene at the end represents the end the quest... he has discovered whether the blonde Arquette is his wife or not, and now he transforms himself back into his real self and exacts his revenge on Loggia.

The evil spirit Pullman meets at the party is like a guide, or ally to help Pullman find out who has framed him/murdered his wife. This spirit makes the tape at of the couple sleeping, and sends it to them to warn Pullman about the impending crime, but it back-fired when Pullman was blamed for the murder.

I can't think of an explanation for the burning barn at the end, or how/why he was transformed back to his old self, and what must've happened to Getty - perhaps he went back to his old life, and never realised where he'd been.

I've just read what I've written and its so rambling and misses out so much, that I know it can't work. But I gave it a shot!

I think in the end there is no explanation - its ultimate purpose is to confuse, and mystify people - just like the ending of the new Planet of the Apes.
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#2 of 8 OFFLINE   Sam Hatch

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Posted September 22 2001 - 08:49 PM

There's just something about 'Lost Highway'... The less sense it makes the more I love it. It should be a tortutous experience, but its dreamlike qualities work so damn well that its nonsense feels perfectly normal to me.

Trying to explain it in words or a traditional plot sense usually results in failure. But what a movie! It's threatening to knock 'Blue Velvet' off of the top of my Lynch lyst...

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#3 of 8 OFFLINE   Shane Gralaw

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Posted September 23 2001 - 05:56 PM

I think it makes sense. Bill Pulman's character (Fred) is sexually inadequate somehow (premature ejaculator? impotent?) so the sex scene in the beginning plays like a horror scene. His wife Rene is frustrated and is probably cheating with the scummy guy (Andy?). Fred knows this, but can't confront it openly. He really loves his wife so he can't deal with it, even though he is obsessed by it. When confronted with his inadequacy (the sex scene) or her cheating (the party- she's drunk and openly flirting with Andy and sends Fred away to get her a drink) he externalizes his anxiety as an "other" (notice how the soundtrack drops out- this is Fred's imagination)- the freaky guy played by Robert Blake, who taunts him by suggesting there is someone else in the house (actually the side of Fred's personality that recognizes the affair and will strike out and kill Rene).
Fred hates videotapes because they offer an outside "real" perspective- he tells the cops he prefers to remember things his own way "not necessarily the way they happened"- he has his own subjective reality that is more comfortable to him. But he really kills his wife (you see it on the tape) and can't deal with it.

So he invents a new reality completely based on an image that will comfort him and redeem the wife he still loves. The new character, Pete, is young and good looking and fucks like a bunny (contrast the sex scenes in this segment with the earlier one- chicks can't get enough of him now). Unlike Fred, he is completely innocent of any crime so he walks out a free man. While at work, he sees his wife- she is alive after all, so he could not have killed her. This scene is classic male gaze- she is objectified to the extreme and walks across the room like a mannequin- perfect yet unformed- but they still seem to recognize each other. Of course this version of his wife is also incredibly attracted to him and pursues him. She gives an explanation of how she met the gangsters that is almost exactly the same story Rene gave on how she met Andy, but now embellished. She is still messing around, but only because she was forced to, at gunpoint no less. This is an apologia for Rene's infidelities- she may have cheated but only through coercion- but some cracks are appearing in the fantasy- at the end of the "I Put a Spell on You" song the look on her face shows she really enjoys it. Of course Andy is recast as the head pornographer exploiting her- and his death will be more gruesome than anyone's in the picture as Fred would wish.

Unfortunately, Fred cannot keep the fantasy together (he even envisions Rene taunting him "Aren't you gonna ask me why? why?" as she screws some other man). Alice becomes as duplicitous as Rene was, and when she rejects him sexually as Rene did, the fantasy comes crashing down like a house of cards. There is no use for the Pete figure so he becomes Fred again. The strange man tries to chase him with the video camera (confronting him with reality) but Fred will have none of it and runs off for a violent, cathartic free-for-all where he lashes out at his demons and the various realities swirl together. Fred is simply too screwed up now to come up with any kind of coherent vision of his life, shaking in violent spasms- possibly to transform into some new figure who can provide yet another reality to comfort him?

Basically the whole movie is Fred's subjective take on his reality, and since he is so screwed up, it can never be a complete, coherent vision.

At least that's what I came up with...


#4 of 8 OFFLINE   Doug D

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Posted September 23 2001 - 06:45 PM

My explanation: LOST HIGHWAY is structured like a Mobius strip.

The shifts occur at the twist in the Mobius strip.

I think trying to make any more rational explanation of LOST HIGHWAY is an exercise in futility. And I say that as someone who thinks it's a great movie.
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#5 of 8 OFFLINE   Paul_D

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Posted September 24 2001 - 04:31 AM

I think Shane's explanation os EXTREMELY well-conceived. Posted Image
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#6 of 8 OFFLINE   tyler O

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Posted September 24 2001 - 05:11 AM

Excellent analysis Shane. I have always thought something akin to your analysis up until the ending, where I have to say that that after his wife leaves him, even with his new body and shell, he reverts to that which he knows. However, he knows that even after ridding the world of Mr. Eddy and his poisonous infection of his wife, that the he that existed before still had no idea of what was going on. In order to try to tell himself what happened, he buzzes his own bell and describes the fate of Mr. Jack Laraunt (sp?). I almost think of the whole story as his dream of how he coped with, why it was ok to kill her and what made her do what she did to him. At the end, he is driving along after examining everything and he is trying to mutate again, but can't seem to settle on anything and so he keeps driving as fast as he can.

This is truly one of Lynch's greatest works. I saw it easily 10 times in the theater when it came out. I can't wait to add it to the rest of the Lynch works when USA gets off their ass. Eraserhead in the works by Lynch himself, Wild At Heart coming soon, remastered Blue Velved, FWWM and the series proper on its way, Elephant man on its way. It is so nice to finally be getting one of the best artists of the medium mostly completed works out on a good format in the proper ratio. Now if I could get rid of my crappy VHS of the alphabet and the grandmother...

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#7 of 8 OFFLINE   Shane Gralaw

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Posted September 24 2001 - 03:56 PM

I know how you feel- so many upcoming Lynch on DVD rumors, and so few announcements. Supposedly the USA Lost Highway will be a special edition. One could only hope...this is my favorite Lynch title (with Eraserhead a close second, of course).

#8 of 8 OFFLINE   Tony Mirra

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Posted September 25 2001 - 06:12 AM

Not to take anything away from any interpretations that others have put forth, but Lost Highway is most definitely a finely layered film with multiple meanings.

One aspect I haven't heard much discussion is the theory that Dick Laurent/Mr. Eddie represents an abstract version of Lynch himself.

In Lost Highway, Dick Laurent (DL, same initials as our director) creates pornographic, violent films. Some critics have accused Lynch of taking a mysoginistic view of women and some have called his movies pornographic (I know that one of Ebert's issues with Lynch is the violence towards women - especially in Blue Velvet). As Lost Highway comes to a close, Laurent is forced to come to terms with what he has created, and ultimately is killed.

Is this Lynch killing off this abstract version of himself? Is it coincidence that The Straight Story was a straight-forward (by Lynch standards) follow-up to Lost Highway? I've heard that Mulholland Drive will take us back to familiar Lynch territory, but I can't help but think that it will be different than Lost Highway, Blue Velvet, or Wild at Heart.

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