Mulholland Drive- Long Spoilers And Analysis

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Joined: Sep 2001
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Having now seen ?Mulholland Drive? over (3) times, and being a huge David Lynch fan, I felt compelled to write out my analysis of the film to dispel the notion that this movie doesn?t add up. Admittedly, some liberties must be taken, and succumbing to dream logic is a must, but the film really does fit together- despite what most people have been saying. Below I will begin my analysis of the film at the point just after the visit to Club Silencio, as Rita has just opened the ?Blue Box? and Betty has disappeared. MY ANALYSIS WILL EVENTUALLY SHOW THAT THE ENTIRE FIRST 90 MINUTES WAS DIANE?S DREAM (with some reality tossed in), BUT THAT THE LAST 45 MINUTES WAS A COMBINATION OF FANTASY, HALLUCINATION, AND FOR THE MOST PART, REALITY. Sorting out which is which was the fun part, but I think I have finally done it. I will map the scenes out; then for each, describe what Lynch is trying to show us, and further describe how he purposely made it tricky for us to decipher.

AFTER THE OPENING OF THE BLUE BOX
Scene 1- The aunt walks into her bedroom, having apparently heard a noise. She looks around, sees nothing, then retreats back into the hall.

What Lynch is trying to show us- In the scene directly preceding this, Rita has opened the ?Blue Box,? Betty has disappeared, and the now opened box has fallen to the ground. We now see the aunt from the beginning of the movie (Betty?s aunt), yet she is HOME. She looks to the floor, where the ?Blue Box? from the previous scene fell, but sees nothing. It is of my opinion that this woman is simply a RED HERRING- if you recall, at the end of the movie when Diane is at the pool/dinner party, she tells everyone how her aunt died and left her a lot of money. I don?t think we are to believe that the woman shown to us here is supposed to be Diane?s aunt. I think that the thing of interest here is simply that the BLUE BOX IS NOT REAL. IT DOES NOT EXIST. THIS IS THE POINT OF THE SCENE- I will explain more of this aspect later.

Scene 2- The Cowboy wakes up Betty/Diane.

We are now witnessing the end of Diane?s dream. For some reason (explained later), she has made the Cowboy a figure in her dream, and in the dream he wakes her up. The entire movie up until this point has therefore been DIANE?S DREAM. She was never Betty. She has always been Diane Selwyn.

Scene 3- Diane walks out into the hallway/ her neighbor comes to the door to retrieve a few of her things (piano ash tray, dishes, etc).

This scene throws the whole time/space continuum into a loop. What is very important here is the SIGHTING OF THE BLUE KEY ON THE TABLE, AND THE NEIGHBOR TAKING BACK THE PIANO ASH TRAY. As we will find out later, the blue key is symbolic of the ?hit? on Camilla being finished- we learn this from a scene later with Diane and the hit man at Winkie?s. Diane?s neighbor also tells Diane that ?those 2 detectives are still looking for you.? OBVIOUSLY, CAMILLA HAS ALREADY BEEN KILLED. THE DETECTIVES ARE ON TO HER.

Scene 4- Diane is in the kitchen, turns around, and sees Camilla- ?Camilla, you came back? she cries.

Another Lynch twist. Camilla has already been killed. What Diane sees here is simply a fantasy of Camilla before her eyes. She is beginning to have guilt and doubt about having her killed, and wants her back. This momentary image of Camilla therefore shows us that Diane regrets having had Camilla killed, and is still in love with her. The tip-off to Camilla being a fantasy image here is the way Laura Harring?s character is shot- almost glowingly, looking as beautiful as can be. This is the way Diane wishes to remember her by (possibly from the first time they met while working on the set of the Sylvia North Story).

Scene 5- Diane makes coffee, walks to the couch, and sees a topless Camilla. The camera switches views, and suddenly we see a topless Diane, who then pounces on top of Camilla.

Another shifting of the time/space continuum. This is now BEFORE Camilla has died. THE PIANO ASH TRAY IS STILL ON THE TABLE, BUT THERE IS NO BLUE KEY. Lynch has therefore succeeded in confusing the audience, for in 3 back-to-back-to-back scenes, he has shown 1) Diane AFTER Camilla has been killed, 2) Diane?s fantasy of Camilla, and 3) Diane BEFORE Camilla has been killed. They are all grounded in reality, unlike the first 90 minutes (and unlike critics such as Roger Ebert who have misinterpreted the ENTIRE movie to be a dream). They are merely confusing due to Lynch shifting back and forth in time- but these should not be read as DREAMS. These scenes should merely be seen as us going BACKWARDS in time.

Scene 6- Adam and Camilla are in the car rehearsing, and Diane scornfully watches from afar, confirming her suspicions that Camilla is seeing Adam. THE FOLLOWING SCENES MORE OR LESS PROCEED IN ORDER, SO EXPLANATION OF THEM WILL BE CONCISE UNTIL MORE IS WARRANTED.

Scene 7- Camilla shows up at Diane?s, Diane says it ?****ing matters to me,? and slams the door shut. THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF HER DOWNWARD SPIRAL. She masturbates while obviously thinking of Camilla, but now realizes that Camilla will never be there again.

Scene 8- We hear the phone ring, and it is Camilla calling for Diane. This is the invitation for the pool party, which is on Mulholland Drive. NOTE THE RED DRAPED LAMP AND THE CIGARRETTE BUDS NEXT TO DIANE?S PHONE- THIS POPPED UP EARLY IN THE MOVIE (I will explain later).

Scene 9- The limousine drives down Mulholland Drive (mirroring the opening scenes identically). The driver stops, and Camilla comes out of the darkness to take Diane on a secret shortcut to the pool/dinner party. THIS SCENE IS IMPORTANT- FIRST, IT SHOWS HOW CAMILLA IS SO EMBARRASSED NOW ABOUT BEING SEEN WITH DIANE, THAT SHE NEEDS TO TAKE HER UP A SHORTCUT THROUGH THE TREES SO THAT NO ONE WILL SEE THEM ENTER THROUGH THE FRONT. SECONDLY, FOR A FLEETING INSTANT, DIANE BELIEVES THAT CAMILLA REALLY IS ACTING SINCERE. NOTE HER REACTION WHEN CAMILLA TAKES HER HAND AND THEY WALK UP THE PATH. SHE SMILES AT THEIR HOLDING HANDS, AND THEN SMILES AT CAMILLA. This, however, will lead to the deterioration of Diane, when she will soon realize that Camilla is NOT taking her back, but is merely inviting her to the party out of pity.

Scene 10- Dinner Party Scene. Adam brings Camilla and Diane drinks, while Coco introduces herself to Diane as Adam?s mother. They then sit at the dinner table, where Diane explains to everyone how she came into money (her aunt died and left her a lot of money), and how she came to Hollywood after winning a Jitterbug contest (note the opening credits, where at the end of the dancing, we see her face grinning as if she has just won the contest). We also see another woman (Camilla from her dream) kiss the real Camilla, and we also see in the periphery the Cowboy, as well as one of the mobster brothers from the opening of the movie (the man with the penchant for expresso). NOTE HERE THAT DIANE SEES THE EXPRESSO MAN AFTER SHE HERSELF HAS JUST BEEN SERVES AN EXPRESSO- THIS EXPLAINS WHY IN HER EVENTUAL DREAM, THIS MAN IS GIVEN THIS ODD CHARACTERISTIC OF DISLIKING EXPRESSO.

This scene has SO MUCH going on it is hard to describe. Essentially, we learn about Diane?s first trip to Hollywood, how she met Camilla on the ?Sylvia North Story,? and how she has essentially played second fiddle to Camilla ever since. It is apparent to all at the table that Diane has bee leeching onto Camilla, and that her brief successes in getting roles have all been because of Camilla. This also helps to explain how Diane has all of her money. When Diane sees another actress kiss Camilla, she feels extremely jealous and hurt (which will manifest itself into her fantasy, to be discussed later). Adam also mentions here how ?I got the pool, she got the pool man?, referring to his ex-wife. He was very happy with the settlement, indicating that he never wanted to be with his wife and was glad things worked out the way they did.

Then, Adam begins to make an announcement about himself and Camilla. It seems as if they are going to be engaged, but we as the audience never find out- we only see Adam and Camilla begin to laugh hysterically. Just before this moment, we see the Cowboy walk in the background. It is of my opinion that Diane is beginning to HALLUCINATE ABOUT ADAM AND CAMILLA LAUGHING- IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT THEY ARE, AT THIS POINT, PLANNING ON GETTING MARRIED- BUT IT IS UNLIKELY THAT AN ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT WOULD PRODUCE THIS KIND OF MEAN-SPIRITED LAUGHTER; RATHER, I THINK THAT DIANE?S FEELINGS OF BETRAYAL AND JEALOUSY SPARKS HER TO IMAGINE THAT CAMILLA IS LAUGHING AT HER, AND THUS PROPELS HER DOWN THE PATH OF HIRING A HITMAN TO FINALLY GET RID OF HER, ADDING TO THE OLD ADAGE ?IF SHE CAN?T BE WITH ME, SHE CAN?T BE WITH ANYBODY.?

Scene 11- coffee with the hit man at Winkie?s.

We finally see the payoff- Diane reaches into her purse, shows us the wad of money (to be manifested into her fantasy later), and orders the hit on Camilla to take place. She glances over to the cashier?s table, and sees the man from the beginning of the movie, the one who had been having dreams about the monster behind Winkie?s. The hit man then shows Diane the blue key, indicating that he will leave it in the place they have determined once the job is done. SEE SCENE 3- in scene 3, the key is on the table, adding further proof, at the time of scene 3, that the job HAS BEEN DONE. Diane also sees the waitress with the name ?Betty? on the tag- this will be her name in the fantasy. When Diane here asks the hit man what the key opens, he merely laughs- the scene then switches to nighttime, with the camera panning out to where the monster behind Winkie?s is playing with the blue box.

Scene 12- Monster opening the blue box, and the miniaturized elderly people exiting from it.

This is the surreal highpoint of the movie- I am not 100% sure on my theory here, but I believe that this image is supposed to be one that, chronologically, is to occur AFTER the hit has taken place. Remember, Diane is having extreme guilt over the death of Camilla (see her image of Camilla from Scene 4, above). She also has the blue key now, where the hit man has left it for her. The guilt of having ordered a murder on the one woman she loved, plus her deteriorating state of mind, lead her to create a hallucination as to what the key opens. In this hallucination, the monster behind Winkie?s is symbolic of pure evil, and the two elderly people are the devil?s evil minions (I know, this is a stretch, but remember Diane?s state of mind at this point is completely fragmented). It is possible that she has encountered this ?monster? at Winkie?s sometime before, although in reality the monster is probably just a homeless man. In her hallucination, the monster is symbolic of her repressed guilt- the opening of the box releases the evil upon her, symbolized by the elderly couple walking maniacally from the box and to (not shown on camera) her apartment. IT IS SPECULATIVE AS TO WHY SHE WOULD IMAGINE THESE TWO ELDERLY PEOPLE AS BEING HER REPRESENTATION OF EVIL- MY THEORY IS THAT PERHAPS THE OLD WOMAN HERE IS REALLY A MANIFESTATION OF HER AUNT AND UNCLE, OR EVEN MOTHER AND FATHER; HER AUNT LEFT HER ALL THE $, AND NOW DIANE HAS USED THE $ TO KILL A LOVER. Also, this would explain the opening of the film- over the jitterbug dancing credits, we see images of Betty with the two elderly citizens, almost as if they were pictures taken after she won the contest. They are proud of her for winning the Jitterbug contest; now, in Diane?s hallucination, they are ashamed and upset about what she has become.

Scene 13- Diane at her apartment, sketching out on her couch, when suddenly the elderly couple crawl under her front door. They become normal sized and chase her throughout the house, when suddenly they corner her into her bedroom- Diane then reaches inside her bedroom drawer, pulls out a gun, and shoots herself in the head.

Another surreal highlight. I am again unsure as to why Diane has chosen the elderly couple to appear in this hallucination- but it is obvious that they represent Diane?s tortured state of mind, and the only way for Diane to end it is to kill herself. Once she kills herself, she assumes the SAME POSITION THAT BETTY AND RITA SAW THE DEAD DIANE SELWYN IN EARLIER IN THE MOVIE.

Scene 14-15- Amongst a flurry of images, we see a close-up of the ?monster,? followed by flashbacks of Diane?s fantasy of Betty and Rita, and then the blue-haired woman from Club Silencio whispering the word ?silencio.? The movie then fades to black.

I believe the uttering of the word ?silencio? is symbolic of Diane?s mind being silenced- her fantasy has ended, her life is over, and everything now is ?silencio.? I will talk about this more at the end.


MULHOLLAND DRIVE- THE FIRST 90 MINUTES

I will now go, in quicker fashion, the opening 90 minutes of the film, which are essentially Diane Selwyn?s dream. I will not label each individual scene, but will merely progress through the story and attempt to explain things of importance.

We open with the title sequence over the Jitterbug dancers. Remember, DIANE WON A JITTERBUG CONTEST, WHICH WAS HOW SHE FIRST GOT TO HOLLYWOOD. Diane obviously uses this to begin her dream because it was the happiest time of her life. There are flashes of images here indicating that perhaps the elderly couple and her are related and have known each other for quite some time- either her aunt before she died, or her mom and dad.

Rita survives the hit on Mulholland Drive, escapes with amnesia, and tumbles down the Hollywood cliff until seeking refuge from the newly departed aunt of Betty?s. DIANE DREAMS THAT THE HIT WENT AWRY AND THAT CAMILLA SURVIVED. BY GIVING CAMILLA AMNESIA IN HER FANTASY, THERE IS NO WAY FOR CAMILLA TO REMEMBER HER FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH DIANE- CAMILLA IS GIVEN A CLEAN SLATE, WHICH GIVES DIANE THE CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH HER ALL OVER AGAIN.

Phone calls are made by various individuals, obviously related to Rita?s disappearance. Mr. Roque informs one of his servants that ?the girl is still missing.? We then see a series of phone calls (no face is revealed), and the last phone call reveals the location of something we see at the end of the movie- A RED DRAPED LAMP. If you remember, DIANE was in this room when Camilla called to inform her that the limousine was waiting to pick her up. I BELIEVE THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF DIANE?S REALITY POPPING UP IN HER FANTASY (THERE ARE OTHER EXAMPLES OF THIS AS WELL). Even though she is dreaming and this is a fantasy, she does continue to have shades of guilt- it is therefore more than likely that the call to the RED DRAPED LAMP ROOM actually DID happen, and that Diane picked it up to discuss the hit on Camilla. THAT IS WHY MERELY SAYING THAT THE FIRST 90 MINUTES IS SIMPLY A DREAM IS NOT CORRECT; most of it is, but certain things may be memories from her real life as she lays in her bed after having shot herself. This is more than likely what is happening here.

Betty arrives at LAX with the almost TOO friendly elderly couple wishing her good luck. DIANE HAS TURNED HER MOST CRAZED HALLUCINATIONS INTO ALMOST ANGELIC FIGURES IN HER FANTASY- In real life, they drove her to kill herself; in her fantasy, they offer nothing but support- indeed, Diane?s fantasy is almost TOO happy- note the way the elderly couple smile in the taxi leaving the airport. SHE WILL NOT ALLOW THEM TO RUIN HER IN THIS FANTASY- THEY WILL ALWAYS BE SMILING.

Betty arrives to see Rita in the shower. She meets Coco (Adam?s mother in real life)- what better way for Diane to have retribution in her fantasy than to have Adam?s mother, who was so condescending to her at the dinner party, be Betty?s LANDLORD. If you remember, the Coco in reality was upset at Diane for being late to the party, and then was condescending towards her when she discussed how she came to Hollywood and first met Camilla. Well, in Diane?s dream, Coco helps out Betty by giving her the faxed pages of a movie scene audition (later scene). Also, it is ironic for Betty in her dream to have Coco be the landlord. Coco was Adam?s mother, who essentially stole Camilla from Diane. Now, Betty has Rita all to herself, and without anyone knowing, RIGHT UNDERNEATH COCO?S NOSES. She has to keep Rita a secret because Coco would not allow her to be there- perhaps mirroring how Coco was disapproving of Diane at the pool party.
Betty and Rita open Rita?s purse, and find all of the money, plus the blue key. THE MONEY, AS WE FIND OUT LATER, WAS REALLY DIANE?S. SHE HAS SIMPLY GIVEN IT A NEW MEANING IN HER DREAM SO THAT SHE CAN BE THE ONE TO HELP SOLVE RITA?S IDENTITY. BETTY WANTS TO BE WITH RITA SO MUCH THAT SHE WILL DO ANYTHING TO HELP HER OUT (even if this means, as we find later, running out on a potentially lucrative audition). THEREFORE, SHE HAS TO CREATE AN AMNESIAC-FILLED RITA THAT HAS SOME MYSTERY TO HER- THE MONEY IN THE PURSE AND THE BLUE KEY ACCOMPLISH THAT PERFECTLY.

Adam runs into trouble at a meeting, where the Castigulani brothers order him to cast CAMILLA RHODES. But the Camilla in her FANTASY is simply the actress from the pool party who kissed the real-life Camilla. There is a reason for this, which I will discuss later. It is worth noting here about the fanatical expresso-drinking brother- remember in reality, Betty saw this man at the pool party, while she herself had just been served an expresso. In her fantasy, for some warped reason, she has made this man virtually a living representation of expresso. Also, because of her desire to get back at Adam for stealing Camilla away, she begins to destroy Adam?s professional life by having the brothers order him to cast Camilla Rhodes. This is just the beginning of how she will destroy Adam. Adam then returns home to find his wife in bed with the pool man, where he promptly gets tossed out after diluting her jewelry with pink paint. IN DIANE?S FANTASY, IT IS ADAM WHO IS CHEATED ON. Not only is he cheated on, but to make matters worse, he gets his ass kicked by the man doing the cheating. DIANE MUST HAVE REVELED IN THIS PART OF HER FANTASY- HOW PERFECT FOR ADAM, THE MAN WHO DESTROYED HER LIFE IN REALITY, TO HAVE HIS LIFE RIPPED APART IN HER FANTASY.

We switch plots and head across town, with the hit man laughing at a story told to him by the man with the black book. If you recall, we enter the conversation in the middle of the story, but at the end of it, the long haired man laughs and says ?****ing car accident.? It is possible that they are discussing the car accident Diane created in her fantasy, thereby enabling Rita to escape with amnesia. Diane might think it is funny how she has made everything work out for her in this fantasy, as the laughing by the two men obviously show. The hit man then kills the long haired man, and then must kill 2 other civilians (and a vacuum cleaner) because HE IS NOT A GOOD HIT MAN. Many viewers might think this is simply superfluous stuff Lynch tossed in for comic asides, but I think it has meaning- in her fantasy, DIANE DREAMS THAT THE HIT MAN SHE HIRED DOES NOT DO THE JOB; IN FACT, HE IS BORDERLINE INCOMPETENT AT HIS JOB. THIS COMFORTS DIANE IN HER FANTASY BECAUSE CAMILLA WILL NOT BE KILLED, ESPECIALLY BY A GUY AS CLUELESS AS THIS.

Betty and Rita sit on the couch, when Rita begins to remember ?Mulholland Drive.? This is where Diane?s dream begins to show signs of waking up. As you recall, Diane tells everyone at the pool/dinner party that it was Camilla who helped her get parts for films, etc. SO, IN DIANE?S FANTASY, SHE IS THE ONE WHO HELPS RITA OUT. SHE GIVES RITA JUST ENOUGH MEMORY TO RECALL CERTAIN EVENTS, BUT NEVER ENOUGH TO DETERMINE WHO SHE REALLY IS; IN FACT, SHE RECALLS JUST ENOUGH INFORMATION SO THAT BETTY CAN HELP HER OUT. DIANE FIGURES THAT IF SHE HAD BEEN THE ONE WHO HAD HELPED CAMILLA OUT, PERHAPS CAMILLA WOULD HAVE STAYED WITH HER; SO, IN THE FANTASY, BETTY INITIATES EVERYTHING IN TRYING TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF RITA. THIS, SHE HOPES, WILL ALLOW RITA TO FALL IN LOVE WITH HER.
Betty and Rita walk to Winkie?s, use the phone, and call the police to inquire about the accident on Mulholland Drive. Thereafter, once inside, Rita sees the name tag on the waitress labeled ?Diane,? and suddenly, Rita remembers something about the name ?Diane Selwyn?. I BELIEVE THAT IT IS SIMPLY ANOTHER WAY FOR BETTY, IN THE DREAM, TO HELP RITA OUT SO THAT RITA WILL EVENTUALLY OWE EVERYTHING SHE HAS TO BETTY. They then determine to go to Diane Selwyn?s apartment the next day to see if Rita will recall anything.

Adam then stays at the hotel run by ?Cookie,? who informs him that his credit is max?d out and that two guys from the bank are looking for him. He then calls his assistant, who informs him that the ?Cowboy? wants to meet him at midnight. This scene is interesting in many ways. First of all, it brings to mind the ?2 detectives? following Diane Selwyn around- only this time, ?2? people are following Adam- also, note how Adam?s assistant comes onto him and invites him back to her place- he shrugs it off as if the thought had never crossed his mind. NOW, THIS IS A STRETCH, BUT I ALMOST GOT THE FEELING THAT ADAM?S ASSISTANT IS SYMBOLIC OF CAMILLA- THEY BOTH HAVE DARK HAIR, WITH VERY VIBRANT LIPSTICK. IN DIANE?S FANTASY, THE ASSISTANT TRIES TO SEDUCE ADAM, BUT HE DOES NOT GO ALONG WITH IT. IN REALITY, WE EVENTUALLY FIND OUT THAT CAMILLA DOES SUCCESSFULLY SEDUCE ADAM, BUT HERE, IN DIANE?S DREAM, ADAM IS NOT INTERESTED. SO, DIANE CAN REST ASSURED THAT A MAN WILL NOT STEAL CAMILLA AWAY FROM HER. (this is pushing the analysis, I admit, but it does make sense following Diane?s dream logic).

Adam sees the ?Cowboy?, who essentially appears out of the shadows and instructs him to cast Camilla Rhodes. This scene is pretty straightforward, and in my opinion just shows how Diane is re-imagining people whom she has seen in reality and given them new meaning in her dream. We do catch a glimpse of the Cowboy at the pool party. Rather than explain him as an apparition or a ?ghost,? I am of the view that he was just some oddball person at this Hollywood party whom Diane happened to notice. In her dream, she imagines him as the guy ordering Adam to cast the film. This is a simplistic explanation of the Cowboy?s character, but giving him a different meaning would destroy the dream logic of the movie- therefore, I see him as simply being an oddball character Diane Selwyn has seen in reality, and who she has re-imagined into her fantasy as a foil for Adam, the man who stole her woman.

Louise (the psychic woman) knocks on Betty?s door, warning about trouble. ?Someone?s in trouble- something bad is happening.? THIS IS SOMEWHAT TRICKY, BUT I BELIEVE CAN BE EXPLANED. AS I SAID EARLIER, THE FIRST PART OF THE MOVIE IS ALMOST ENTIRELY DIANE?S DREAM, BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN PARTS WHERE DIANE?S REALITY HAS ENTERED IN. THIS IS A SCENE WHERE I FEEL THAT DIANE IS TRYING TO WARN HERSELF (IN THE FORM OF BETTY) THAT SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO RITA (THE EVENTUAL HIT ON HER LIFE). IT IS ALMOST LIKE A PIECE OF HER REALITY HAS SLIPPED INSIDE HER DREAM.

Betty and Rita rehearse Betty?s big scene, after which she takes off to go to the Hollywood studio where she will do the scene for real. THIS SCENE HAS A COUPLE OF INTERESTING THINGS TO NOTE. FIRST OF ALL, BETTY?S PERFORMANCE DURING THE REHEARSAL SHOWS THAT SHE REALLY IS A GREAT, TALENTED ACTRESS. EVERYBODY LOVES HER, THE CASTING AGENTS WANT TO SHOW HER AROUND TO OTHER FILMS, AND ESSENTIALLY EVERYONE LEAVES MESMERIZED BY HER PERFORMANCE. THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF HOW IT HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE. REMEMBER AT THE POOL PARTY, SHE EXPLAINS HOW SHE LOST OUT TO CAMILLA IN THE ?SYLVIA NORTH? STORY BECAUSE THE DIRECTOR DIDN?T LIKE HER. WELL, IN HER FANTASY, THE DIRECTOR NOT ONLY LOVES HER, BUT THE PRODUCERS, CO-STARS, AND CASTING AGENTS GO CRAZY FOR HER. IN DIANE?S FANTASY WORLD, SHE WILL GET THE LEAD ROLE.

Diane is shown Adam?s new film, and the two lock eyes momentarily. Meanwhile, Camilla Rhodes appears on stage, and per the Cowboy?s demand, Adam tells his producer ?this is the girl?. NOTE THAT THIS ACTRESS WAS THE ONE IN REALITY WHO WAS SEEN KISSING CAMILLA AT THE PARTY, POSSIBLY ANOTHER ONE OF CAMILLA?S EX-LOVERS. DIANE WAS THEREFORE EXTREMELY JEALOUS OF HER, AS WELL AS ADAM. However, in Diane?s fantasy, this woman is re-imagined as the Camilla Rhodes who will win the lead actress part. In fantasy, just like in reality, this woman seemingly blocks Diane; in reality, she one-ups Diane by becoming one of Camilla?s lovers; in fantasy, she would have prevented Betty from auditioning successfully for the part, since Adam was forced to cast Camilla Rhodes. BUT BETTY IS NEVER ABLE TO AUDITION BEFORE ADAM; RATHER, SHE SUDDENLY REMEMBERS THAT SHE HAS TO HELP OUT WITH RITA IN LOCATING DIANE SELWYN?S APARTMENT. BETTY THEN RUNS OUT OF THE AUDITION BEFORE ADAM CAN EVEN MEET HER. My theory on this is that Diane?s fantasy started to lose focus- she originally conceived it as a way to win back Camilla?s heart, but then she became sidetracked- her fantasy slowly turned into her becoming a successful actress, much like her original ambition upon winning the Jitterbug contest, and Rita became lost in her mind. Seeing the actress Camilla Rhodes perform, however, brought the purpose of her fantasy back to her, which explains why she abruptly leaves the audition in the middle of Camilla Rhodes singing.

Betty and Rita go to Diane Selwyn?s apartment. Along the way, Rita spots 2 detectives staking out the place. ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF DIANE?S REAL LIFE MELDING INTO HER FANTASY. THESE ARE THE SAME 2 DETECTIVES WHO ARE STAKING OUT DIANE?S PLACE AFTER CAMILLA HAS BEEN KILLED.
They walk throughout the apartment corridors, and knock on what they believe is Diane Selwyn?s apartment, only it now belongs to a neighbor who just recently switched apartments with Diane. (PROBABLY BECAUSE DIANE SUGGESTED SWITCHING PLACES AFTER CAMILLA WAS KILLED). THIS SCENE ALSO SHOWS THAT THIS WOMAN DOES NOT RECOGNIZE RITA AT ALL! THIS IS THE FIRST CLUE THAT RITA?S RECOLLECTION OF THE NAME ?DIANE SELWYN? WAS COMPLETELY INVENTED BY DIANE IN HER DREAM AS A WAY OF ALLOWING BETTY TO HELP SOLVE A PROBLEM THAT WOULD NEVER BE SOLVED. IN HER DREAM, DIANE NEVER WANTED RITA TO FIGURE OUT WHO SHE USED TO BE; IF SHE DID, THEN SHE WOULD REMEMBER HOW SHE NO LONGER LOVES DIANE. THEREFORE, DIANE HAS GIVEN RITA CLUES TO HER IDENTITY THAT AMOUNT TO LITTLE MORE THAN RED-HERRINGS; BETTY WILL TRY TO HELP SOLVE THEM, BUT THEY WILL NEVER LEAD TO ANYWHERE.

They eventually break into Diane Selwyn?s apartment (of course, in typical Diane?s fantasy fashion, it is Betty who breaks in), and the two discover a decomposing Diane Selwyn laying on the bed (IN THE SAME POSITION THAT DIANE SHOT HERSELF AND IS CURRENTLY DREAMING). Rita screams, runs outside, and feels that the only way to protect herself is to cut her hair and don a blonde wig. RITA OWES MUCH DEBT TO BETTY; BETTY HAS BEEN THE ONLY ONE THERE TO HELP HER, AND THESE FEELINGS OF GRATITUDE SUDDENLY TURN TO FEELINGS OF LOVE AS RITA SEDUCES BETTY THAT SAME NIGHT. The two make love, and it is here where Diane?s fantasy has hit its zenith. Everything has worked out for the best in her dream; after Betty helped Rita and the two became close trying to solve Rita?s identity (an identity that could NEVER be solved), the two fell in love.


Club Silencio

I give this last section its own title because I am unsure about where to properly place it. One part of me says it is Diane beginning to wake from her dream, while another says the entire scene is simply a metaphor for everything being an illusion. What we do know is that Rita begins saying ?Silencio? in her sleep quite incessantly, followed by ?no hay banda?no hay banda en el orchestra.? She then demands that Betty accompany her to Club Silencio, which appears to be in some rusticated back alley away from all civilization (it almost looked eerily reminiscent of the back of Winkie?s and where the monster might be hiding out, but that is probably due to the lighting of the scene.) They sit inside, and we see the magician utter the exact same words Rita was muttering in her sleep. HAD RITA BEEN HERE BEFORE? HOW WOULD SHE KNOW ABOUT THIS CLUB? My opinion is that the entire club is an illusion- Diane fantasized about getting Camilla back; but Camilla is in essence saying that she cannot be had. By taking her to Club Silencio, she shows Betty that everything was an illusion. She did not really make love to Betty just minutes before?it was just in Betty?s mind. The entire scene reflects the theme that it is simply a ?recording?- Betty can dream about being with Camilla, but it is not REAL. Once the performer sings her song and collapses, Betty discovers the blue box in her purse, suddenly materialized. They go home, Rita gets the key out from the closet hiding space, and when she turns around, Betty has disappeared. SHE HAS AWOKEN. THE DREAM IS OVER. As the blue-haired woman at the end of the film quietly says, ?SILENCIO?- Diane?s world is now silent, and her fantasy has come to an end. The illusion is gone. Reality has kicked in, and now Diane is dead, lying in her bed after having shot herself.


Conclusion

I think this is a good way to interpret the movie, but like a true Lynch film, I?m sure there are several other possibilities. While I like my interpretation, there are a couple of things I cannot explain- for example, why is ?Cookie? the emcee at the Club Silencio? I am trying to think of why he is both there and at the hotel where Adam is staying- I know this is trivial, but I?m sure Lynch tossed him in there for a reason- or maybe it is a deliberate Lynchian red herring, and Cookie perhaps moonlights at the Club Silencio at 2 in the morning (!). Oh well, not every mystery in this film can be solved. I hope everyone enjoyed that interpretation, and that everyone sees this movie many more times before it shows up on DVD (where I hope it arrives soon). The more I think about this movie, the more I see similarities with the ?Usual Suspects?, for some reason- Verbal Kent basically using things he sees in the office to tell fantastical stories about the past; much like Diane using people and places in her reality to dream about a fantastical past. But comparing a movie like this to the ?Usual Suspects? does not to David Lynch justice. See this movie again!
Oct 22, 2001 1:59 AM
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Wow, great analysis!

I had some doubts about the early Adam scenes being Diane's thoughts but the Espresso Man cleared that up. The Blue Key info was very insightful too. Good stuff, Lynch really brainstormed this movie.
Oct 22, 2001 7:45 AM
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Wow. Thank you. I loved this film, but couldn't quite put it all together. Now I must see it again.
Oct 22, 2001 11:14 AM
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Excellent analysis. I would also like to add my thoughts on the demonic elderly couple at the end of the film.

I think it's interesting that they seem menacing and freaky even at the beginning - in the way that they're smiling way too much and are driving in the black limo (the same one that drove "Rita"/Camilla at the beginning & that later takes Diane to the party). Clearly, they hold some position of ominous power. But they also might represent the American public at large upon whom the Dream Factory depends - in Betty's dreams they appear to be super supportive and caring / but as soon as she turns away - they almost seem to be mocking her with their eerie smiles. The fact that they are the ones who drive her to madness and suicide suggests that Diane/Betty's dream of audience acceptance and love has turned on her.

I recommend reading the issue of Film Comment with essays by both Philip Lopate (who admits he is NOT a Lynch fan by and large, but concedes that Mulholland Drive is a genuine masterpiece) and Amy Taubin. Both offer interesting explications of what the film "means" and how it works.
Oct 22, 2001 12:26 PM
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I have to say again how impressed I am with the analysis. It got me asking more questions to myself and spurred some thought of my own.

1. If you assume the dreamlogic is correct, why did The Castigliani Brothers insist that the lead part go to Camilla?

-- Diane wants to believe that she is a wonderful and talented actress. This was described the previous analysis as Betty "knocks 'em dead" at her first audition and impresses the top notch casting director. In this dreamworld, Camilla only receives the part because of persuasion and not because of her talents. Betty is more talented than Camilla. This fits in perfectly because in reality Diane was jealous of the girl that kissed the real Camilla at the pool party. We must remember that this girl is depicted as the dreamworld Camilla.


2. Who is the COWBOY?

I don't believe that the COWBOY was just some guy at the pool party. During the dream sequence, the COWBOY appears at the corral to Adam amidst electricity surges. In earlier Lynch works, this was used to show the presence of something supernatural. To me, the COWBOY seems to be the antithesis of the DARK MAN or the MONSTER MAN. If he were some sort of supernatural guide, it makes sense that he wakes up DIANE at the end of her dream. Because basically, the end of DIANE's dream is the end of her life.

I just sat here thinking and I came up with something interesting. I was trying to understand why the COWBOY met with Adam in the Corral. The most important thing he said up there was likely, "If you do good, you will see me once more. If you do bad, you will see me twice. I feel this message was actually a message for DIANE. Diane sees the COWBOY for the first time at the pool party as she starts to lose at after realizing that she has lost Camilla's love. The second time she sees the COWBOY is when he wakes her up from her dream...after she kills herself. She would not have seen the COWBOY this second time had she not killed Camilla and eventually shot herself.


Wheee...this is fun thinking about this movie.
Oct 22, 2001 12:47 PM
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I certainly agree with the notion that the Cowboy is a familiar Lynch motif- the supernatural mixed with electricity. I only thought to analyze the film with as little supernatural explanation as possible, because they would make it more terrifying and more realistic. I agree that the Cowboy was probably giving Diane the message at the corral, and that the second time she saw him, it was "bad" because she was dead. But to abide by that logic would mean that the first time she saw him at the pool party meant that this supernatural figure existed in her real life. I guess that could happen, especially in a Lynch film, but it would add less significance to the film if we are to believe that everything can be explained merely by the supernatural. True, when I said the Cowboy was simply someone she saw at the pool party, that is a very simplistic explanation- but it would fall into the logic of the rest of the movie and not try to add metaphysical significance to Diane's life. I guess I feel that explaining everything "supernaturally" is an easy cop-out, but it does have merit.
Oct 22, 2001 3:58 PM
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Hey, weren't there TWO shots of the Cowboy trying to wake her up? One following the other with perhaps a scene in between?
Oct 22, 2001 4:40 PM
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Exactly. That is exactly the way I interpeted the movie when I first saw it. Very nice, detailed analysis. I really begin to wonder though, is Diane having the fantasy as she lays dead on the bed.....or is she having it while sleeping on the bed, then wakes up, then kills herself.....

I think she first wakes up from her dream, and coming back to her horrible reality leads to her suicide.

I've only been able to see the movie once...I really want to see it again. I wish it was easier to find a closer theater playing it in New Jersey.
Oct 22, 2001 4:51 PM
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Thanks for the analysis, it really cleared up a lot of my own questions about the movie. I was definitely confused about the room that Diane answered the phone in, the one with the red lamp, but your explanation makes some sense. I can't say that I'm totally 100% sure of everything that happened, but I am somewhat closer now. I really do want to watch it again, and hopefully I'll make that happen this coming weekend. I can honestly say that this has been the most fun I've ever had analyzing a movie before. I just can't wait until it is released on DVD.
wheeeee!
Oct 22, 2001 7:03 PM
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Thank you, first of all, for helping me make better sense of this. What you wrote makes sense. There was a minor detail that I wanted to throw out there...about Club Silencio.
You mentioned that the setting of the club looked like it could almost have been behind the diner where the homeless bum (with the blue box) was hiding... I saw the film twice over the weekend and was trying to catch something that I missed the first time. When "Rita" and "Betty" got to the club, they went inside. Then there was a shot where the camera was far away from the club (maybe from the view of the "monster"). The camera/shot then moved closer and closer to the club, until it appears to be inside; this looked like it was done in real time, but during the movie the shot was sped up. What I'm getting at, is it's possible that this club WAS IN FACT behind the diner, where the monster lurked, and when Camilla and Diane went into the club, the monster raced to the club to place the blue box inside Diane's purse. Diane and Camille were distracted by the woman singing "Crying Over You" in Spanish, so instead of the box materializing into her purse (even though this is just a fantasy) the monster (black, hard to see in a dark theater) could've slipped it into her purse. To me the way the camera moves from so far away to inside the club, the way it shakes, it looks like Lynch might be suggesting this is what is happening.
Oct 23, 2001 2:51 PM
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Just a nit but I disagree that the lady at Diane Selway's complex does not recognise Rita/Camilla; I think she does recognise her and that appears to be confirmed by a line in the pilot screenplay: "The woman seems to be looking now at Rita."
Oct 23, 2001 6:17 PM
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I understand that the script indicates that the neighbor looks over at Rita- but you have to remember, in this pilot script, Lynch probably imagined a completely different vision of Mulholland Drive, not the ending that we see in theatres today. Surely, had it been picked up as a TV show over the course of 22 episodes, the neighbor might have played a more prevalent role and the addition in the script that she noticed Rita might have been fleshed out some more. But for the movie version, I would disregard whatever the pilot script said, especially in the way it sets up scenes, etc.
Oct 24, 2001 12:09 AM
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Have have a couple of questions.

1. Why was betty shaking so violently in club silencio. Also was there any thing to the woman passing out on stage. Was that rita?

2. Why were the old folk laughing(in the opening airport sceen)? They seemed like they got one over on her. Could they represent her dream of making it big in Hollywod,and be part of the system to steal another bright light.
Oct 24, 2001 2:12 PM
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[QUOTE]1. Why was betty shaking so violently in club silencio. Also was there any thing to the woman passing out on stage. Was that rita?[/QUOTE]

I think that has to do with her realizing that she's fantasizing, dreaming. Maybe the whole concept of "illusion" hit too close to home for her.

And the woman passing out on stage is just another great representation of perception and illusion. We could have sworn that she was singing that song, but as it turns out, it was all on a tape, all an illusion.

I think Lynch is basically telling us the premise of the movie in the Silencio sequence. The whole movie basically deals with perception, illusion, reality, etc. Our perception on things.
Oct 24, 2001 8:50 PM
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Agreed, It's the most brilliant scene in the movie. We are *TOLD*, point blank, that we are listening to a tape and that it is all an illusion. We acknowledge this and are given evidence, but we are still shocked/surprised when the singer collapses and the song continues. Why, because we *want* to believe the illusion. It perfectly reflects the entire movie. I think it may be the most perfect scene Lynch has ever done.
Oct 25, 2001 5:59 AM
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I think that explains the silencio sceen anybody have anything to say about the old folks in the begining of the film. Why were they laughing like they were putting on an act for Betty?
Oct 25, 2001 7:18 AM
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If you recall "Twin Peaks; Fire Walk With Me" Laura dies and goes to this magical place. I believe that Lynch's extension of this magical place is Club Silenco. A type of afterlife or neutral place that guides the dead, dying, and grieving to chose their path, a kind of purgatory.

At this point in Dianne's fantasy Rita is inviting her (after Camilla has already been murdered) to go with her to Club Silenco. Here is how I interpret this scene. Betty wakes Rita, after the love-making scene, as she frantically repeats the words "Silenco". It is at this point Dianne starts to have the reality of Camilla being murdered infiltrate her dream fantasy, a fantasy that up to this point had been a very self-fulfilling illusion for Betty. They venture off to this desolate "Club" with no lines and no crowds? Odd, and I think that this is what the lone camera shot is meant to impress. The club is the catalyst for Betty to recognize her fantasy as fantasy. The performance of the "Magician", as he has been referred to, represents memory as being a recording. If I can draw upon your memory. Bill Paxton in Lost Highway states "I like to remember things my own way"...."My own way, not exactly the way they happened." This clarifies that Betty is not real and Dianne is delusional, whether the beginning of the movie is a dream or pure fantasy (of which I believe is mixture of both as well as reality) is not all that important as long as you accept that Dianne is delusional. The awesome Italian version of crying just solidifies the reality of Dianne's guilt seeping into her dream state and produces two things too happen. The epileptic shaking of Betty of which I think is the representation of someone trying to wake Dianne in reality and the materialization of the blue box in her purse. How Betty disappears right before the box is opened the box just appears in her purse. This box represents what the blue key goes to, which is essentially the end of Camilla. When Rita opens it, she vanishes, as does Camilla when the key appears on Dianne's table. Make sense, I hope so. Just remember Lynch uses reoccurring themes and characters and he always stirs the pot of reality. You must draw upon his previous work to see how he has progressed and tried to perfect his dreamscapes.

I agree with the remaining analysis by daveuris including that of the Cowboy.
Oct 25, 2001 9:17 AM
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I thought that rather than a dream sequence the portion of the movie up until the blue box is opened reflects is more of hell/purgatory state after the death of Diane.

Remember the two old people. At the end of the movie the two old people are demons that drive Diane to commit suicide. When we see Betty arrive in L.A. at the beginning, she is accompanied by these demons. She turns to them and says "Thanks for travelling with me." It's as if Diane has arrived in Heaven, she is the utterly perfect in shape and beauty. She drives the relationship with Rita. We see that Adam suffers through several humiliations of maritial infedility, having his movie taken from his control, having his wealth taken from him.

This is the perfect revenge fantasy, and the old people have delivered her to it. But they are laughing because they have pulled one over on her. As she goes about her business in LA, the revenge fantasy begins to unravel, peaking with the climax at Silencio when all is revealed to her.

The homeless man behind Winkies is definitely Satanic in nature. The deal at Winkies is very Faustian in nature. The devil behind Winkies is the one pulling the strings.

But questions I have under this Scenario:

1) Is the Cowboy some sort of meta-narrator through-out to piece the movie together for the viewer. When he talks to Adam, he says "If you do good, you'll see me once more. If you do bad, you'll see me twice." From our viewpoint, we then see him twice more, throughout the film. The second time at the party. I picked up on this as something bad had happened. Is he the angelic force contra to the satanic homeless man? Is he part of the celestial clockwork, that merely pull strings to deliver Dianne/Betty to her ultimate fate.

2) Is it live or is it purgatory? Is the Betty character actually in reality, or is it all unreal after Diane's death and subsequent resurrection as Betty? The original Hit of Camillo failed, because, in some sort of Faustian pact, you never get what really bargained for. Diane, resuerected as Betty finds out that Cammillo managed to escape her fate. When the Blue Box is opened she goes to suffer her fate at Silencio, as we see at the closing of the movie. I'm pulling for the fact that this all happened "in reality" and that Silencio, is Betty's private hell.
Oct 29, 2001 6:58 AM
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I dont know if anyone is going to agree with me on this, but someone mentioned heaven. Now, when Betty arrives at the airport with the old people, it is excrutiatingly bright, as if to imply a heavenly place. What if the last 45 minutes was real and the first two thirds was what she imagined heaven to be?????

I dont know, any thoughts?
(PS this seems to be a really neat thread, a lot of intelligent, opinionated people here. Glad I found it )
Oct 30, 2001 3:11 PM
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freshmaker is on to something. At the beginning of the movie are we possibly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel senerio? You know the whole jitterbug contest with the superimposed Diane and the old couple.

But wait, the looming character over the pillow right brfore the opening credits, which i assume is Diane waking up and falling asleep again, still holds me to the first half being a dream state. The point where the Cowboy says it is time to wake up, the dream has ended. Diane's reality is then mixed in fantasy, trying to get herself off on her memories, but having them invaded by the pain Cammilla caused and by her own guilt of then having her murdered. The scence where she is staring at the ceiling while she is masturbating, the camera going in and out of focus, and no images appearing indicates to me the Diane can no longer conjure pleasent fantasies to substain herself.

Club Silenco is a gateway of sorts I feel certain.

Could the brightness in the arrival scence represent wholesomeness and innocence. Possiblly her memory and purity in her excitement of fullfilling her dreams in Hollywood. I think some filmmakers use lighting to build drama and extinguish, create or alter moods. If you have seen Seven, Fincher's dark little masterpiece, you know it is a dark, rainy and dreary film until the killer reveals himself. The remaining portion of the film is cast in bright revelation type lighting. I am not saying that Lynch is using his techniques as such, just that I view lighting as a technique rather than an unmentioned underlying plot. Unless of course the lighting is essential to the plot.

Then think of Diane at the closing, and what she had become. The thoughts of the old couple remind her how far left she has traveled and she looses it.

I love this discussion as well. It reveals the level spirituality plays in each of out lives and how we incorporate it in our interpretaions. David Lynch is an Artist.

freashmaker your anaylsis makes me think of Jacob's Ladder.
Oct 30, 2001 9:06 PM
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