Why Diane=Rita=Betty=Camilla

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Now, this might have been on the board before I came along, so please humor me and realize that I probably wasn't around then. . .I'm also not saying that this is the "actual" story of what happened in the film, just a metaphorical idea that, when tossed around, could equate a 'cautionary myth' about what happens to people when they chase after something elusive, seemingly positive, but really harmful in the long run. Bear in mind this is my feeling, and does not represent whatever it was David Lynch was saying...and is based solely on my opinion. Okay, disclaimers over:

I have been thinking a great deal about the idea that not only were Betty and Diane the same person, but, in a metaphorical sense, Betty and Diane were also Rita and Camilla, progressively.

She (I have to use one person to try and keep it congruent) started out as Betty -- naive, hopeful, just off the plane from Ontario. As she started seeking parts, small and large, in the apartment at Aunt Ruth's *which someone so brilliantly pointed out sounds like "untruth," (I forget who it was, sorry) she starts her career.

Eventually she meets a part of herself, Rita, a side of her nature she didn't know existed...(I don't know who I am...I just know I have a lot of money and a key -- the money being her future inheritance from Aunt Ruth, the key being her talent). Rita is dark, mysterious, ambitious and willing to do anything to succeed. This is a jump-off point for any woman determined to make her mark in the world, particularly in the Hollywood world, somewhat a rite of passage.

But nowhere else equates "prostitution" with getting ahead quite as well as Hollywood does. An actress has to really sell herself to beat out the competition. Acting appears to be a whoring profession, in general (not in the literal sense) where a person is always trying to win other people over and garner mass appeal.

This would be shown by Rita's supposed sleeping to the top (The person Betty knew herself to be would never compromise her talent for her ambition...evolving into the nature she didn't realize she had, Betty eventually compromises herself and finds sides of herself she never knew existed.)

As she enters her "Rita" nature, she does things that go against her beliefs, but nothing extremely disturbing. She is on an adventure ("It will be just like in the movies!") and acting naturally -- just following the steps she - and all of us - have been lead to believe are what actresses do: play it mysteriously, come from nowhere and be an overnight success, go along to get along. Her "love affair" with Rita equates a period of time that Betty was entranced with what she was becoming...Rita, so to speak. She fell in love with the same person that everyone else fell in love with (as depicted by Laura Harring, ethereal, beautiful, beyond any real personality of her own -- devoid of anything other than what another wanted to project onto her -- i.e. an amnesiac that can be "filled" with any interpretation, thought of desire of the viewer - an extension of what we, the public, do with actresses/actors/movies, project our own thoughts, etc.) She didn't yet see this as a compromise of her integrity - just a way to get her agenda of being a star fulfilled.

Later in her career, she progresses to the Camilla stage -- it's no longer a journey of discovery of finding out she's a multi-faceted human being, or a matter of being adored/loved by the public for something other than what she is - also known as being a "star."

Instead, she really discovers she has a dark side. She's compromised her integrity, her dignity, and become the thing that led her down the garden path...( I see this because of, originally, the scene where Rita says "we don't stop here" in the limo and later, Diane says "we don't stop here" in the limo -- the parallels of their dialogue, the scene itself, etc., as being the same person traveling down the same road, symbolically.) Also, it seems that she got to the point of being "beyond a star" -- still wanting to be loved by the public, but no longer wanting them to love her for what she really doesn't see herself as being.

(as an aside, that might have something to do with her, as Rita, changing her hair to blonde -- trying to make a change to take on different roles, show who she "really is" rather than what others interpret her to be through her body of work)

Finally, after going through these stages, she becomes Diane -- embittered by the humiliation she has suffered at the hands of those in control (symbolized by Adam - the tempermental director, Brucker - the uncaring director, the Castigliani brothers (the "money behind the project, the people with their own agenda. Coco, symbolizing the people who, by luck of birth or happy accident, get to live on the periphery of fame and frown on those who haven't "made it," and Woody, the cheesy actors who try to put the make on actresses young enough to be their grandchildren.)

"Betty: has come full-circle -- from the hopeful ingenue full of dreams, to the mysterious unknown trying to get her foot in the door, to the compromising actress taking parts and doing things she never thought she'd do to "win the part, and finally, to a person whose fame is dwindling, whose star is one the decline, and who has sacrificed her personal life for an ideal that was not worth it.

She has seen it all, and tried it all, and has become, as so many people who want to be actors and don't succeed probably do become, devoid of all hope for their dreams. ("Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind...ain't life unkind" isn't just another catchy Stones' lyric.)

Ordering the "hit" was her wanting to kill the part of herself that became Rita, and later Camilla. She wanted to go back to a happier time when she was hopeful and not aware that she, like everyone, had multiple aspects to her nature that eventually turned against her. She didn't actually "order a hit" on herself -- she was just looking, metaphorically, to kill the part of herself that she couldn't deal with (like Bill Pullman's character in Lost Highway -- she couldn't live with what she'd become, and rather than kill herself, she would deny the reality.)

But, the "hit" went awry. She wasn't able to kill just the parts of herself she didn't like and could not "reconjur" Betty in reality. She had to confront all the steps that got her to the point where she was (Camilla), and when she did, she realized they were all part of an integrated whole. THAT was when she decided to kill herself, because there were more negatives (Rita, Camilla and Diane factors) than positives (her Betty nature). She had retraced the steps that took her to the point of being Diane, and realized they were all valid.

Okay, now I know this is strictly metaphor....but it makes a weird kind of sense to me.

It would explain how Betty became Diane. Nobody turns from that much hope into a world of that much desolation in a short time, without a few major steps in between. She didn't just come to Hollywood and fail, all at once. It had to happen gradually, progressively...a killing of hope evolving into various stages of grief, denial and finally, acceptance.

Those stages can be traced through the lives of Rita, Camilla and Diane. Rita is acceptance of her duality of nature, one that exists in all people. Betty meets that duality, tries to utilize it to help herself garner fame and recognition, and that brings her to Camilla, the monsterous star ego of someone who has it all and doesn't care for where she came from, or who she was - only where she is GOING.

Diane is the person whom most starlets and stars become as they get older. . .disregarded for their past work, ignored in the public eye. . .a "has been" who has spent so much of their life trying to achieve something in particular that they have ignored the rest of their lives, and their needs, in general.

At the end of her life (both metaphorically and literally) Diane is regretting the person she became and remembering/paying homage to the person she once was. If her life was all ambition, feeding the Rita/Camilla monster that was her ambition and drive to be a star, she may very well have ended up alone and forgotten.

What I think Lynch has given us is that progression, in varying characters and in real time. . .without the time lapse, aging, and all in one piece: the story of Sunset Boulevard. . .the story of what lies behind the fabulous curtain that we think answers all our prayers but really brings our nightmares to life.

I KNOW I've gone too far in this analysis, but it not only fits with what my intuition screams at me, but it also makes a modicum of sense, given Lynch's own interest in certain themes, such as the movies I've mentioned.

At any rate, it's something to think about...
Feb 5, 2002 7:14 PM
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I think thats the best post I've ever read. Very nice What got you thinking of this? Are you David Lynch:p
Feb 5, 2002 7:24 PM
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It works best at the metaphorical level, and for that I enjoyed your post very much.

Interesting you should mention Sunset Blvd, cuz of course both movies are named after famous Hollywood streets, but also cuz it is the only film actually about the Hollywood scene that Lynch thinks gets everything right.

I think we can safely add Mulholland Drive to that very short list.
Feb 5, 2002 8:30 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bananna
At any rate, it's something to think about... [/QUOTE]

Now [B]that's[/B] an understatement. Your post is another remarkable interpretation of the underlying theme of this infinitely fascinating film.

Many reviewers have pointed out the theme of the Hollywood Dream Machine gone awry as personified by Betty/Diane. And until your post I had always looked at this film in terms of the Naomi roles. Now I see that Rita and Camilla are there not just to provide the mystery, the buddy, the villain and the victim.

Your comments about the Camilla phase reminded me of something Betty says in the unpacking scene.

[QUOTE]Betty
Of course, I?d rather be known as a great actress than a movie star, but sometimes people end up being both and that is, I guess you?d say, sort of why I came here. I?m sorry, I?m just so excited to be here..I mean I just came here from Deep River Ontario and now I?m in this dream place.[/QUOTE]

Which brings to mind your conclusion that MD is

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bananna
the story of Sunset Boulevard. . .the story of what lies behind the fabulous curtain that we think answers all our prayers but really brings our nightmares to life.[/QUOTE]

One of the joys of this film is the way it can be interpreted in so many thought-provoking ways. Thanks for a fresh and exciting interpretation, Bananna!
Feb 5, 2002 10:00 PM
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Thanks for the compliments! I was expecting to hear that this had been posted or alluded to before.

You know, when I wrote about dark versus light, or Betty and Rita (and Diane and Camilla) being negative images of each other both in the physical sense and in personality, I think the idea of them all being one was starting to germinate at that time, unbeknownst to me.

But, really, I wrote the comments last night and it was like being in Diane's fever dream, or sitting in front of the computer equivalent of the Ouija Board...like the thought had just been sitting there stewing until it was ready to write itself.

All the MD conjecture is part of the fun, and all these different themes will be part of the reason MD will be a classic in twenty years.
Feb 6, 2002 11:59 AM
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Great theory Bananna!! I really enjoyed reading it but one thing kept bothering me. If Diane=Betty=Rita=Camilla, then Camilla is not a real person. This theory makes perfect sense to me in the context of the dream but I'm not so sure about it outside the dream. For Camilla to not have existed, all of the scenes with Diane and Camilla couldn't have happened. Do you think that Camilla wasn't a real person but was just a part of Diane represented in the dream? If it really does follow the pattern of Betty->Rita->Camilla->Diane, do you think the whole film was a dream? That would seem to go along with your theory b/c the scenes with Diane and Camilla wouldn't have actually happened...b/c there is no Camilla. I suppose this could bring back the idea that DeRosa was Diane's lover and how she looks like a plainer version of Camilla.
What are anyone's thoughts about Camilla not being real?...or is there a way that Camilla could have been real but Bananna's theory still holds up?

Yet again, another great theory leads me to more questions than answers! I can't wait until MD is out on DVD!
Feb 6, 2002 12:33 PM
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Yeah, when I first read it I was thinking Bananna meant literally, not metaphorically. It makes sense to me now but thanks for clearing it up even more .
Feb 6, 2002 11:24 PM
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Great interpretation! I've thought the same thing myself, but you've articulated it so wonderfully that I'm left without anything further to say!
Feb 7, 2002 11:27 AM
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Bananna's theory not only works on a metaphorical level but can be applied to reality as well. Remember since this movie mostly consists of elements inside of Diane's head (dreams, memories, fantasies, etc) it is quite possible that Diane mixed parts of her reality with parts of Camilla's reality and incorporated them into a massive metaphorical dream of distorted reality that toys with identity. In Diane's mind her emotions, desires and disappointments
are manifested into character's identities. 'Betty' represents hope and innocence. 'Betty' could describe Diane when she first came to Hollywood to live out her dream. 'Rita' represents mystery and the almost dirty ability to move up in the world of acting, a dark kind of mysterical desire that would eventually be Diane's downfall, embodied into a character. It was the 'Rita,' that dark kind of charm that Diane couldn't handle or control. She didn't play her cards right while Camilla did.

Diane always wanted to successfully blend 'Rita' into 'Betty,' but this would be detrimental to her in the end. She didn't have the tools to deal with the 'Rita' she lusted for (perhaps low self-esteem from sexual abuse) and this was even foreshadowed in the dream when the old lady comes to the house and points out that there is some kind of evil presence and its not Betty, but the mysterious 'Rita.' Diane wanted to blend together certain elements of 'Betty' and 'Rita' and in her dream this was ultimately achieved at the end when a 'Rita/Betty' is created and Diane's obsession becomes fulfilled. The blonde wig represents 'Betty's' innocence combined with the 'Rita' that Camilla used to be successful.

'Betty' + 'Rita' = Diane's ultimate fantasy. Diane didn't want to get to the top being sleazy like she believed Camilla did, so she just took out the parts of Camilla that were pure yet still dark and mysterious to create 'Rita.' And with a blonde wig on this ultimate being it has the innocence of Betty without the dirty past of Camilla (she lost her memory and therefore her past, how she really got to the top). And don't forget all the Hollywood and 50s glamor that Diane incorporates into her dream (Rita Hayworth), a setting that Diane envisioned Hollywood was really like before she actually tangles herself into a web of nightmares.

In real life Diane was just Diane and Camilla was just Camilla. Yet in Diane's extremely warped and fantastical mind she yearns to create something that she couldn't in reality. This turns into an erotic obsession that Diane kept bottled up in her emotional pandora's box (Why haven't I told you?), and when opened her true emotions finally were unleashed. Massive depression, the hit on Camilla, hallucinations, and eventually suicide resulted. Damn I love this moive.
Feb 9, 2002 11:32 PM
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And to just take this one step further, I actually don't believe Diane was totally like 'Betty' when she came to Hollywood. We can imply from her dream and reality that she wasn't all nice and angelic like 'Betty.' She had a bad attitude, she was moody, angry, jealous and insecure. These characteristics contributed to her downward spiral in her real life. 'Betty' represents her more positive and light side, motivated with a good attitude. This is how Diane should have been, her vision of a perfect self that stayed true to her roots. Combined with the darker and mysterious 'Rita' and you get a model of perfection in Diane's mind.
Feb 10, 2002 1:46 AM
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Thank you, dk23, for fleshing out the theory in a great, direct manner! I agree that Diane was not "all Betty" when she came to Hollywood, and that a combination of Betty, Rita, Camilla and Diane archetypes exists in EVERY woman (and probably in every man), real or celluloid. We're all optimistic, pessimistic, loving, cruel, kind and mean at different times. . .I think Lynch really likes to play with the duality of human nature in all its glorious forms!

I love MD. Saw Gosford Park yesterday and I see why Altman is so celebrated critically -- and how difficult his role in working with that large an ensemble -- but i am still PRAYING for DL to get a nod on Tuesday morning and a statuette in March!
Feb 10, 2002 12:03 PM
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Hey, Banana, just read your post at the top (I'm always late to find these things) and I have to say: Yay! GREAT analysis! Really insightful, damn skippy. I'm impressed.

It also made me think of the last line of Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar (if anyone's offended by Manson, I apologize, but I dig him the most), which he cribbed from a fortune cookie. No matter (profund is profound); anyway, the line goes like this: "When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed." This seems to be connected to what you were saying, and, interestingly enough, Antichrist Superstar is also about that loss of innocence that occurs as someone becomes famous, a star, etc. The self-hatred and misanthropy and so on.

Anyway, got off the subject there, but I wanted to chime in that your post makes a lot of sense to me, and has actually made me rethink some of the things I thought I'd "figured out" about MD.
Feb 11, 2002 12:33 PM
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By the way, just re-listened to Manson's album, and it's thematic connections to MD, or vice-versa, are really quite uncanny. Intersing, considering MM was originally going to be on MD the television show. ANd also (going way out there) interesting because Lynch and Manson are both Capricorns, as is David Bowie, who was the first to document the dissolution of identity that fame, stardom, etc. can bring.

Hmmm . . . I've gone way off track here, but I thought these were kind of interesting, if tangential, connections to consider.
Feb 11, 2002 12:52 PM
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Bananna is a clever wee fruit. I think that the scene where Diane says "I know what you have to do", and dresses Camilla up as herself backs that theory of a single evolving character, its puzzled me up to now!
Feb 17, 2002 9:07 PM
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A "clever wee fruit?" Not sure if I should be pleased or distressed...or bruised.

Ascott, since you brought up Manson, do you know that Manson wanted Lynch to direct his story about Hollywood, called "Holy Wood?"

Just thought you might like to know. While his music scares me, I don't doubt that he has artistic merit. Just that I need it to be daylight and have him on low volume to listen!
Feb 18, 2002 5:31 AM
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Time flies like arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
Feb 18, 2002 1:31 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by MindTravel
Time flies like arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
[/QUOTE]

LOL. Gnaturally!!!
Feb 18, 2002 1:33 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by MindTravel
Time flies like arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
[/QUOTE]

Another of my favourite (groucho) marxisms:

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.

Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
Feb 18, 2002 3:32 PM
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Thank God for that top post.
I've been reading the main theory for some time, that it was all a dream or one long very detailed hallucination, and it disappointed me. If Lynch's foundation is one long hallucination or dream, that would be utterly disappointing, completely hackneyed and an undercutting of an otherwise finely filmed and acted flick.
I think many theories ought to be considered still. Personally, I watched the movie believing almost from the start that all the main four women characters were the same one person. So that the chronology would have been:
Diane/Betty goes to L.A. She goes through all of the things that D/B go through (if not quite with the idealized glimmer of her remembrance), plus a few experiences of other anonymous characters, such as the whore with the perky nipples, the silencio singer, and so on.
Over time, in L.A., she transforms into Betty/Camilla through hair dye (if physically) and/or simply through selling out etc. (metaphorically). All the names are tied into Hollywood's fake-name machinery.
Rita/Camilla does indeed suffer in the limo wreck, lives briefly, makes it to the condo. And dies, at which point in some afterlife neutral ground she is escorted by her earlier self, Diane/Betty (suddenly an escaped prisoner in her mind), through the tortuous process of evaporating from this planet through the rigorous remembrance of ups and downs.
Key moments in this theory:
1) When the aunt walks in and hears the box fall, nothing's there, because Diane/Betty/Rita/Camilla is a ghost. That's when we get the next part of the movie, the inner ugglies D/B/R/C went through.
2) Her masturbation is tied in with her thoughts of self-love with herself, Rita/Camilla. At last remembering who she was, Diane/Betty, a reversion process, a self-excorcism, she kills herself.
Persistent problem: Which were the real side characters? The ones from the first two reels (the landlady, cowboy etc.) or the last reel? Or are both correct, but with the actors merely being the same, but filling different roles in her remembrance?
One last thing: why does everyone think it's more possible for the end-film limo to stop on the side of the road so that a glamorous women wearing expensive shoes would escort an actress she's sick of up a dirty hill to a glitzy party? The first limo ride (crash, bang, boom) is far more believeable, yes?
I don't know if this is right or stupid. But I certainly prefer this (fiction? delusion?) to the it's-all-a-dream catcher.
Feb 18, 2002 5:32 PM
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I see MD, much like a poem or a painting, being able to exist at both (and several) levels simultaneously. Both the Bergman-esque (multiple versions of same character, a la Persona) and Dali-esque (dreamscape) interpretations work, and can co-exist quite comfortably. Why can't Lynch being using (and doing) both at the same time.

FWIW, I don't see the "it's all a dream" as a cop out or a reversion to old Lynchian modes, but a crafty layering of meanings--forcing us to reexamine the film and reinterpret characters with newfound knowledge.
Feb 19, 2002 7:51 AM
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