The current movie for the Analogical Imagination Group is Mulholland Dr. These are just my jumbled thoughts on the film.
This is a SPOILER WARNING!! Only read this if you’ve already seen the movie. If you have any plans at all to watch it, I highly suggest you watch it without any preconceived ideas about it because I seriously think there are probably as many interpretations as there are people which is why I LOVE it so much! If David Lynch were to say – here is what it meant – that would completely destroy the quality of the film for me. I don’t think it is logical, but it does seem to have a sound structure so seems worth puzzling through some of it – especially Lynch’s clues Kristen provided.
SPOILER WARNING!! SPOILER WARNING!! SPOILER WARNING!!
Diane is far too young to have been part of a jitterbug contest. And the opening scene doesn’t seem like a bunch of people in the 1990s doing the jitterbug, it seems like a bunch of people in the 1950s doing the jitterbug. I don’t have an answer to this, I just wonder – Why a jitterbug contest? And how does winning a jitterbug contest lead to acting? Is this a reference to a more naive time?
The first sequence seems to be a movie Diane has constructed and she’s cast all kinds of characters that she has seen elsewhere. I could find most of them in the “awake” sequence. The scene after Betty arrives in LA feels like watching a film from the 1950s where everyone is just way too perky and everything is oh so wonderful. Except – the old couple has the plastic smile that turns into something knowing and sinister once they are in the car alone. So you know it isn’t as perky as it is being made out to be. Strange that Diane would dream that into her dream, though. Maybe her relatives had been abusive? Probably a stretch but you wonder how someone becomes as psychotic as Diane. It could easily be the disappointments of Hollywood dreams, but what makes people dream those sorts of dreams in the first place?
It’s all dreams inside of dreams.
I think I missed what was going on with the man in back of Winkies. I’m not sure what it is we were supposed to notice other than the obvious – that he puts the blue box in a bag and according to the bizarre guy who had had two dreams about that Winkies, he’s supposed to be controlling all of the fear everyone feels. And the other connection is the blue key. Diane asks the hit man what it opens and he just laughs – I guess because it doesn’t open anything? It’s a symbol of the opposite – that someone is dead (something has died). Rita’s blue key opens the box – but there is nothing in it. It’s empty. So maybe the homeless man behind Winkies represents the emptiness of Hollywood dreams?
One of the clues on Kristen’s list (from David Lynch) is who gives keys to whom (or something like that). Rita’s key shows up in her purse and Diane’s key shows up on her table. We assume the hit man has given Diane the key, but he could have someone else deliver it. So really, the only person I noticed giving anybody a key was Cocoa giving Betty a key. Is that significant? Cocoa, in reality, is Adam’s mother. She clearly doesn’t seem to approve of Adam’s marriage to Camilla and gives Diane that sort of knowing pat on the hand which is humiliating to watch so must be humiliating for Diane. There must be a lot of kinky stuff going on with Adam and Camilla because she very seductively kisses the “dream” Camilla in front of both Adam and Diane. And it seems that Adam and Camilla are intentionally taunting Diane. Very confusing and very mean.
Is there any significance to Betty and Rita saying they are going to call the police, just to see if there was an accident on Mulholland Drive? It was very intentionally said. Is this connected to the botched hit scene where they are laughing about an accident? I didn’t get why Diane would dream that into her dream.
There is all of this talk of being in a dreamland and “you can imagine how I feel” and Billy Ray Cyrrus says to Adam when he catches him with his wife in bed, “Just pretend you didn’t see anything – it’s better that way.” As long as you pretend it doesn’t matter, then it doesn’t matter? All pretense, all dreams, illusions which Club Silencio points out. I so LOVE that scene!! That’s the most realistic part of the whole movie in a way. We are dragged into a reality and then shocked with it’s unreality. Which is when the blue box is discovered and the Cowboy comes in to say “wake up” to whoever it is that is sleeping on the bed. Whoever it is, it is Diane that we actually see wake up in her gray gown.
In the beginning of the film when the mafia guys are calling each other and the guy with the yellow phone makes a call to the black phone by the red lampshade – we later learn that is Diane’s apartment. So that’s kind of weird. They are calling to say the girl is still missing. So that’s probably Diane’s secret hope? That Camilla does somehow manage to escape the hitman?
I loved the Cowboy and the corral – especially after just having read Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It’s that whole herd mentality. Go rope Adam in, corral him, and get him to do what it is you want him to do. If you do good, you’ll see him once. If you do bad, you’ll see him twice. Of course, turns out he is Adams friend in reality – at least he is at Adam’s party. But we see him two more times. I loved this: “Man’s attitude goes some ways, the ways his life will be. Is this something with which you agree?” Adam off-handedly answers yes (or sure). The cowboy then asks “Because I wanted to hear that answer? Or because you agree with what I said?” Adam says it is because he agrees with what he said. So the Cowboy says – “what did I say”. Adam says “A man’s attitude determines to a large degree the way his life will be.” The Cowboy replies, “Well, sense you agree you must be a person who does not care about the good life.” Adam says, “How’s that?” And he never really gets an answer except to be told that he has to change his attitude to get on the Cowboy’s buggy if he wants to go along for the ride. Which means, I suppose, that he has to do as he is told if he wants the good life? Adam gives into the Italian brothers and his life becomes “good” again. In the dream world, he ends up casting Camilla even though he apparently wants Betty. In the real world, he ends up getting engaged to Camilla and taunting Diane with it.
I also thought the audition scene was fascinating. The Director is Bob Brooker (I think?) who seems totally incompetent. He gives some crazy advice: Don’t play for real until it gets real. And don’t rush the line, “before what”. Everyone roles their eyes because Bob is clearly crazy. Woody tells him, “Acting is reacting – I just play off them. And turns to Betty and says – you don’t rush it, I won’t rush it.” I think this must have some significance, but I’m not exactly sure what. I caught the fact that Camilla played the lead role in Sylvia North which was directed by Bob Brooker and Diane tried out for the lead, too. So the whole Italian brothers Maffia thing is about Camilla getting a role she doesn’t deserve that Diane believes should have been hers. That was one of the clues in Kristen’s list – does Camilla get her roles because of her talent? That’s hard to say. But the mother clearly seems to think Camilla does not deserve Adam so it probably has more to do with being able to manipulate people than it has to do with talent.
I asked a couple of questions on Kristen’s post. Is there any significance beyond allowing us to understand that Diane has been missing (and later that Betty is Diane) that the woman in Apt. 12 switched apartments with Diane? What was the significance of the botched hit? I think I asked something else but I don’t remember what. Maybe I already included it here.
Anyway, my cryptic thoughts for what they are worth. I’m not even sure the reality is reality. I’m a little thrown off by the person who is actually in the bed because it seems it must be that person who is having the dream and it isn’t clearly Diane.
But the whole movie is like that. You can’t be certain of anything. It’s just like a dream where people take on different persona’s, time periods merge into each other, the time sequences are out of order and jumping all over the place. You see recurring themes that you can easily make out while you are watching the movie but as soon as you try and understand it, they don’t really make sense anymore.
Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic movie. I absolutely loved it.
I watched Mulholland Dr. one more time before I took it back to Blockbuster, read through Alan Shaw’s analysis of Lynch’s 10 clues that Kristen posted which helped, and learned a little more about David Lynch at his Myspace.
Turns out he’s been into Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s TM for 30 years and has been meditating at least 20 minutes twice a day for that long. He is very involved in bringing TM to various communities like students with ADHD, school violence, etc. (See The David Lynch Foundation). It is during TM that the mind is said to reach it’s most quiet state (transcendental consciousness).
Here is Maharishi’s seven major stages of consciousness:
- Dreamless sleeping state of consciousness
- Dreaming state of consciousness (REM)
- Waking state of consciousness
- Transcendental Consciousness, said to be a fourth major state of consciousness, distinct from waking, sleeping or dreaming. According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, thought becomes increasingly subtle, until the finest level of thought is reached. From there the mind can further experience the source of thought, or transcend thought, and is no longer bound by thoughts or perceptions but experiences awareness awake to itself alone.This state is said to be an experience of “am-ness”, or “Being”, the unbounded pure consciousness that is at the source of thoughts and feelings. Maharishi calls this state Transcendental Consciousness, and has said that Transcendental Consciousness is experienced via dhyana, a Sanskrit term which he equates with Transcendental Meditation. While dhyana is often characterized as involving concentration or contemplation, Transcendental Meditation, according to Maharishi, makes use of the “natural, expansive response of the mind.” Maharishi notes that concentration is a mistranslation of dhyana and that meditation that uses concentration can result in a failure to transcend.
- Cosmic Consciousness, the fifth state, is said to be the state of “enlightenment” which results from alternating the experience of Transcendental Consciousness and activity in our daily lives. Through repeated practice, the non-changing state of Being in TC becomes permanently maintained along with waking, sleeping and dreaming. This all-inclusive state – “cosmic” – is marked by a peaceful, non-changing restful state inside while one is actively engaged in the constant change which occurs in life.
- God Consciousness is said to be the state where the unbounded awareness of Cosmic Consciousness is accompanied by refined sensory perception during waking, sleeping and dreaming – where the full range and mechanics of creation are appreciated at a sublime, subtle level. This perception leads to a devotion and love for creation and its creator.
- Unity Consciousness, the seventh state, is said to be the perception that all aspects of life are nothing but expressions of Being, or pure consciousness. All of the diversity in life, from the gross to the subtle, is seen as the self-interacting dynamics of Being. The outer and inner realities of life are bridged in Unity Consciousness. One sees the Self in all aspects of creation.
Deepak Chopra, also a student of Maharishi, explains it this way:
There are actually seven states of awareness. Deep sleep is the first; dreaming is the second; then the third stage is waking; the forth stage is meditation; the fifth is called cosmic consciousness, which is when you have that internal experience of meditation in deep sleep, dreaming, and waking, so you are established in that state even while in action. Then beyond cosmic consciousness is the sixth stage of consciousness which is God consciousness, where you become aware of the spirit in the objects of your perception. So you look at a flower and you can feel the presence of divinity within it. Or you look at a telephone or a table or a shoe and you can feel the presence of the infinite in it. The infinite is everywhere. And the seventh stage is the ever present witnessing awareness in the object of experience. They fuse and become one, and when that happens then you experience enlightenment–you see the whole world as an expression of yourself and you see that the ground of your being is also the ground of all existence.
I watched God and Buddha (a discussion between Robert Thurman and Deepak Chopra) and Chopra said this about the waking and dreaming states:
The mechanics of the dream and the mechanics of the waking state of consciousness is exactly the same. One has been given a rationalization and the other has not. It is the karmic software that is appearing in your consciousness that you make stories out of. You get so caught up in the drama of the stories that you forget who you are. The only way to come out of this “tangled hierarchy” (the seer has become lost in the scenery) is to recognize the experiencer. The first step out of the drama is to realize no matter what you are doing, you are not doing it. God does everything. We are the mechanism through which the divine intelligence is working. The second is through devotion/love. The third meditation (silence). And the fourth, using the intellect to go beyond the intellect/rational mind.
So it would seem that the viewer of Mulholland Drive is the experiencer. We are the seer and we’ve become lost in the scenery. Perhaps Silencio is a call to wake up from our own waking state.
Carl Jung said that all of the characters in our dreams are in actuality, ourselves. In a sense, this is true in our waking state, too. We project our beliefs, experience, etc. onto others rather than seeing them as they are.
When I went back through and watched Mulholland Dr. this last time, the story made a lot more sense thinking in terms of the characters being a projection of Diane’s experience. At first I was kind of skeptical of Alan Shaw saying she had been sexually abused, but it makes a lot of sense when you think about the scenes in her dream.
I figured out the gown dilemma. The corpse in Diane’s dream is wearing a black gown. The “awake” Diane is wearing a gray gown. So when the Cowboy knocks on the door and says “wake up pretty girl”, that’s still a part of the dream and he’s saying it to the Diane in Diane’s dream who is presumably already dead. Maybe what that signifies is that the identity Diane had associated with the Hollywood dream is dead. (In a sense, Camilla in the “awake” scene, represents that Hollywood identity. In the “dream” scene, Camilla is an aspect of Diane.) And in another sense, these characters are all aspects of the viewer (as the experiencer of the film), too.
OK – I know this is already really long, but I want to write this down for the next time I watch the movie (which won’t be anytime soon). These are based on Alan Shaw’s analysis of Lynch’s 10 Clues:
Clue 1) I couldn’t figure out why Alan Shaw would have been so certain the older people are Diane’s grandparents, but apparently this is what David Lynch called them in the screenplay for the pilot.
Clue 3) I’m not sure I agree with Alan Shaw’s analysis of the third clue. I think when Adam is asked “to keep an open mind”, they mean the opposite. An open mind is open to infinite possibilities, not the specific demands of others who use desire against them. I agree with Shaw that Adam is an aspect of Diane. Adam in the dream fits the prostitute archetype perfectly. He’s willing to sell his integrity for the sake of maintaining his lifestyle. It’s not his film anymore so he is left with two possibilities. Comply and maintain “the good” life”. Or be willing to walk away from the film. An open mind in this case means the willingness to be directed/controlled. And of course Adam is willing to be controlled because he doesn’t want to walk away from “the good life”. He can be bought. This mirrors what is going on in Diane’s life. But I suppose it could have dual meaning if Lynch agrees with Chopra’s take on Maharishi’s teaching that ultimately, no matter what we are doing, we are not in control, we are the mechanism through which divine intelligence is operating. When we try to control the events and people in our lives based on what it is we personally desire, we close our mind to infinite possibility. Our reality gets “boxed” in and we become much more easily manipulated by the desires of others. (Our desire plays off their desire and vice versa.)
Clue 4 )I also don’t really agree with Alan Shaw’s take on the fourth clue although the accident theme is interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Mulholland Dr. is sort of like Mount Olympus in a way, but the analogy doesn’t quite work for me because Adam is not in control of his own life (or his film), either. He’s being controlled like a puppet, too. I think it might be a little shallow to say that Diane meeting Camilla is the metaphorical accident that is being referred to in this clue. That is part of it. But I think the accident is more along the lines of illusion crashing into reality. The crash takes place where Camilla meets Diane and leads her up the hill. Camilla is charming Diane as though something good is going to happen and Diane falls for the illusion Camilla is creating. But at the dinner party, Diane is forced to face the reality of her relationship to Camilla.
Clue 5) It’s not Aunt Ruth that gives Betty the key. It’s Cocoa that gives Betty the key. It’s definitely not Ruth giving Diane the key although I suppose this key could hold a double meaning because Alan is right – it’s Ruth’s money that allows Diane to come out to Hollywood. But then why does Cocoa turn out to be Adam’s mother? Aunt Ruth is not connected to Adam’s mother in reality. The other two keys (the blue ones) are not given by anyone. The hitman doesn’t give it to Diane. He just says she’ll find it when the job is done. And Rita isn’t given the blue key, either. For me, both represent the emptiness and illusory nature of a life controlled by desire.
Clue 8) Is this Sylvia North Story about child abuse? Where did that come from? I’m still not sure about that connection although I looked up some info, on Rita Hayworth. (Rita got her name from the Gilda poster which was the film that launched Rita Hayworth’s career.) Rita Hayworth was one of the first Spanish actresses in Hollywood and was known for her red hair. She had an extremely early onset of Alzheimers. She never sang in her films, including Gilda. And she changed her name (which is a common thing for movie stars to do.)
Interesting thought on the Blue Haired Lady: I have spent way too much time with the link Kristen provided for Mulholland Dr. It’s all interesting but here is the coolest thing I’ve stumbled across on it yet: “Just a quick note on the final word in Mulholland Dr., regarding another film ending on the same word, Le Mepris (aka Contempt), in which the call for silence (in Italian rather than Spanish, albeit with the same pronunciation) comes from a director’s assistant (?) as a scene is about to be filmed for a movie. As a second point, why would someone in a theatre ask for silence? Both of these suggest that the show is just about to start. The Blue Haired Lady is breaking the spell of the film and speaking directly to the viewer – she is urging silence before a performance, which is real life, the life we engage in when we leave the theater.” (James Stanley)
OK – that’s it for me and Mulholland Dr. for a while. I’ll have to come back to it after seeing a few more Lynch films.