It is well known that David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” collected from the remains of the canceled TV series, with the addition of some additional footage that was filmed later. I think it’s delusional to imagine a “complete” movie lurking somewhere in Lynch’s mind – a ghostly director’s snippet that exists only in its original intent. The film is openly dreamlike, and like most dreams, it moves erratically on a path of many twists and turns.
It seems to be Betty’s (Naomi Watts) dream, seen in the first picture lying in bed. This continues with the story of how Betty came to Hollywood and how she ended up living in her aunt’s apartment, but if we’re in a dream, there’s no reason to believe that on a literal level. Most likely he had only dreamed of getting off a flight from Ontario to Los Angeles, being prayed for by the giggling old couple who met him on the plane, and arriving by taxi at the apartment. The dream collects its contents from existing materials, and although the parents appear again at the end of the film, their true existence may be problematic.
However, the film looks very realistic in the opening few scenes, as the ominous film noir sequence shows a beautiful woman in the back seat of a limousine on Mulholland Drive—a winding road that winds along the ridge that separates the town from the San Fernando Valley. The limo pulls over, the driver draws a gun and orders the passengers out of the car, and just then two drag racing hot rods slide into view and one of them attacks the limousine, killing the driver and his partner. The stunned woman (Laura Elena Herring) staggers into the bush and begins her descent—first across Franklin Dr., finally arriving at Sunset. Still hiding in the bushes, he sees a woman leaving the apartment to take a taxi, and he sneaks into the apartment and hides under the table.
Who’s he? Let’s not get ahead of him. The film’s first moments seem like a whimsical montage from a jitterbug contest on a 1950s TV show, and the hotrods and their passengers visually connect with it. But people weren’t dressed like the jitterbuggers and drag races in Mulholland at the time of the film (the 1990s), not with priceless antique hot rods, and the crash seems to have elements imported from auditions, perhaps, which would later be. made a lot.
I will no longer try your patience with more of these mixes and matches. They don’t need to be reasonable either. Conventional film cops appear, investigate, and disappear for the rest of the film. Betty finds the woman from Mulholland bathing in her aunt’s apartment and demands to know who she is. The woman saw a poster of Rita Hayworth in “Gilda” on the wall and replied, “Rita.” He admits to having amnesia. Betty now responds with almost surprising generosity, deciding to help “Rita” discover her identity, and smoothly bond the two women. Indeed, it wasn’t long before they helped each other sneak into apartment #17. However, when they found the decomposing corpse at #17, it was a little more detailed than Nancy Drew’s signature find.
Dissatisfied with my understanding of film, I brought it to an audience that has not disappointed me for 30 years. At the World Affairs Conference at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I do my annual routine: Show titles on Monday afternoons, and then sort through scene by scene, sometimes shot at a time, for the next four afternoons. It draws a full house, and predicts a lot of reading and interpretation. But even my old friend who always thought of everything as a version of Homer’s Odyssey wasn’t convinced this time.
I gave my usual speech about how you can’t take an interpretation for a film. You should find it there. No consensus has emerged about what we found.
It’s a grueling exercise, but then consider a series of shots where the film loses focus and then the women’s faces begin to blend. At the point when one intentionally causes injury to the other, the film appears to burn on the projector. The screen goes black, and then the movie starts again with images from the early days of silent films. What does Bergman tell us? Best to start over? What did Lynch tell us? Better to ignore the illusion that all this happened in two women, or in two heads?