Mulholland Drive: David Lynch’s bizarre and surreal masterpiece remains the best mystery of the 21st century

David LynchMulholland Drive is a film that continues to defy explanation more than two decades after its release. That the film remains open to interpretation is not because of Lynch’s repeated refusal to comment on the film, its symbols and themes, but because the film is shot, structured and edited to invite multiple interpretations.

Although often classified as a “mystery”, Mulholland Drive is a mystery in that there is indeed a central underlying enigma here, but unlike most films of this nature there is no no clear or easy resolution.

Mulholland Drive began its journey as a 90-minute TV pilot, but was rejected by ABC, home of Lynch’s TV hit Twin Peaks. Later, with interest – and money – from French production company StudioCanal’s, Lynch expanded the script and filmed additional scenes to convert a TV episode into a feature film.

When it was released in 2001, Mulholland Drive was acclaimed by most critics but didn’t find many takers among audiences, with the possible exception of Lynch diehards. This is not unusual for his works, which are always difficult and require repeated viewings.

The film follows an aspiring young actress Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) who arrives in Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. She has her aunt’s place in town all to herself, but finds it occupied by a mysterious, beautiful black-haired amnesiac woman (Laura Elena Harring) who calls herself Rita and claims she is the sole survivor of a car accident occurred the holder. street the day before. Empathetic, Betty teams up with her to uncover the identity of the traumatized woman. They find money and a strange blue key in her purse.

Even after two decades, Mulholland Drive defies explanation. (Picture: Universal Pictures)

Elsewhere, in a restaurant, a man explains his dream to his friend and says he saw a scary figure behind the building. When they arrive at this location, the face pops out from behind a dumpster and the man loses consciousness. A narcissistic filmmaker Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) learns his movie is crowdfunded and he’s armed to cast a woman named Camilla Rhodes.

Meanwhile, Betty and Rita are having coffee in the restaurant we saw earlier. Rita looks at the waitress’ name tag and learns that it has a connection to Diane Selwyn’s name. They eventually end up in Diane Selwyn’s apartment but instead find a rotting female corpse. Back at Betty’s house, the two women realize that they have fallen in love with each other and have sex.

Things get even stranger here.

Justin Theroux, Mulholland Drive Justin Theroux in Mulholland Drive. (Picture: Universal Pictures)

Rita tells Betty they have to go to a place called “Silencio” at 2 a.m., which turns out to be a theater. The performer tells the audience that everything is an illusion. A singer breaks down as the voice continues, meaning it was a recorded performance.

Back home, Betty finds a blue box in her purse which opens with the key she found in Rita’s purse. Rita opens the box and it falls to the floor.

Betty wakes up in the apartment where she and Rita had found this desiccated corpse. Only, Betty’s name is Diane Selwyn, and she’s struggling to cope with her failed relationship with Camilla Rhodes (who looks exactly like Rita and she and Kesher are an object). It is revealed that Diana ordered a hit on Camilla.

It is claimed that art does not have, or at least should not have, a fixed meaning. A good work of art can ideally be interpreted in a myriad of ways depending on the individual, who brings their own meaning to the work.

Until the last half hour, Mulholland Drive has most often been understood as one woman’s tortured dream in which she reimagines the people in her life as characters in a new narrative. She creates a sort of fantasy world, in which she has her whole future in Hollywood ahead of her instead of a declining career, and Camilla, who left Diane for a man, is a vulnerable woman in search of shelter. and relief.

Much of the film’s style, tone, and structure would seem to support this reading. But there are also many other interpretations of the story. According to one, Betty and Diane are the same women, only in different realities.

Mulholland Drive, David Lynch With Mulholland Drive, David Lynch (pictured) clearly wants viewers to reconsider what cinema is as art. (Picture: Universal Pictures)

Either way, any attempt to overanalyze the film ends up being deleterious to it, as it robs it of that seductive weirdness that makes it one of the finest films of the 21st century. Just watching the movie will give you an idea that Lynch doesn’t want you to grasp the plot – whatever it is – which is inconsequential anyway. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have made it so difficult. Its objective is simply to let the spectator experience the film, and not to seek logic where there is none.

Like any work of art containing surreal elements, Mulholland Drive sits firmly in the realm between the conscious and the unconscious, and there are non-sequential scenes, several juxtapositions of the routine and the weird, the absurd and banal, disgusting and beautiful. .

Stylistic choices, lighting, cinematography, imagery, and filming techniques that are definitely in weird territory – all contribute to a trippy, dreamy vibe. Few films capture the specialness of dreams like this.

Mulholland Drive disturbs the mind. As Churchill called Russia “an enigma, shrouded in mystery, inside an enigma”, Mulholland Drive is the greatest of mysteries because it is not meant to be understood. It’s a ride of Lynchian proportions and worth every minute of it.


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