Mulholland Drive. - WHAT just happened?

BourbonQueenBourbonQueen Dallas, TX
Based upon conversation I read in here and on the podcast (for some reason I cannot seem to locate at this time), I decided to watch Mulholland Drive this weekend.

To be fair, I've never seen a David Lynch movie all the way through.  I think I tried Twin Peaks and I couldn't' get past the creepy dancing guy.  I thought it would be off the wall, but I didn't think it would be this far off the reservation.

How do I make sense of this?  So many conflicting thoughts and stories that I'm tying to figure out what happened and that was a dream.

Is this something I'll need to watch 4 times before it "clicks"?
AntManBeejluzania

Comments

  • edited May 2016

    Hey Bourbon Queen,

    This is one of my all-time favorite movies. There are a lot of different theories of what happens.

    This website gathers up a lot different ones: http://www.mulholland-drive.net/

    My favorite theory is beautifully described in this blog entry:

    http://entertainmentguidefilmtv.blogspot.com/2011/03/mulholland-dr-2001.html


    You'll definitely need to watch this multiple times. The couple times I watched it, I also had very little idea of what was happening. I just enjoyed the moods and feeling of it. I found the dense mystery very exciting. When I learned what all happened, I loved it even more.

    Which podcast are you referring to? If you mean the crowd commissioned one, then they haven't gotten to it yet. I imagine J&A will do that sometime this summer.

  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    edited May 2016
    This movie is so fucking haunting. Its one of my absolute favorites. I still haven't really parsed everything out with it, but as @AntManBee mentioned the feelings that this flick evokes are so crazy that I just give Lynch the wheel and go along for the ride. If you are having a hard time with the labyrinth-like plot this is the site I used to help decipher most of it. http://www.mulholland-drive.net/analysis/analysis01.htm

    The film is just so damn haunting. The first time I watched it I had a similar reaction. I had no clue what I had just seen, but I couldn't get it out of my brain. Masterful stuff. I could talk for ages about it.

    As a side-note, Lynch's Inland Empire is almost like a sister film to Mulholland Drive. Its less coherent and way too long in my opinion. But there are some really freaky imagery that has stuck with me for the long haul. I wouldn't really recommend it--but if you are looking for something in the same vein as MD, then Inland Empire is worth a look.
    AntManBee
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    edited May 2016
    Yeah I never get tired of "Mulholland Dr." and I've seen it at least seven or eight times. The first time, I had no idea what I had just seen, but it was one of the most intense viewing experiences I had ever had and I just couldn't shake it. There are numerous theories and explanations out there. All interesting. Some I find more convincing than others, but at the end of the day it all comes down to personal experience and what it means to you. 

    Lynch himself resists explanation with a lot of his work and there's a great interview on the Japanese DVD for the film that I would link to here, but I tried to post a youtube in another thread we had going for "Mulholland Dr." on this forum a while back, and @AntManBee  said it was region-blocked and wouldn't play stateside.

    Anyway in the interview he basically compares "Mulholland Dr." to music in saying that when people listen to great music they often don't like it because of it's meaning. It's an instinctual thing that you are in tune with and you get into it on an emotional level. He also talks about how the medium of film is typically seen as a medium that must make logical sense, but that he doesn't work on that level and he doesn't want you to necessarily piece it together in logical way. He wants to just experience it on an emotional/gut level. 

    He also compares it to a dream and as soon as you try to explain your dream to someone else, it loses it's power and suddenly it's not very interesting.

    The one thing Lynch has said definitively is that it's a love story. 

    Having said all that, I still enjoy a good analysis of the film, though, I am resistant to the idea that there is a "correct" interpretation. If you do want to see someone lay it all out, aside from the links already shared, I think this essay by FilmCrit Hulk does a pretty good job. I don't necessarily agree with everything he says and I don't like his assertion that his is the most definitive explanation, but I really like the way he lays out the plot and also his final interpretation just speaks to me more than some of the other analyses out there. It is tough to get through due to the length and all-caps, but it's another good source of information.

    Lastly, another interesting thought I got from the essay included with the Criterion edition of the film is the idea that the first half which everyone asserts is a dream plays out in a rather straight-forward narrative fashion, but like a traditional film and therefore is not very dreamlike. Yet the part that everyone asserts is reality is fragmented and jumps around in time and space, much like a dream. Reading that in the essay just brought out another layer I hadn't considered before and, while it doesn't necessarily change my interpretation, it really shows the myriad of ways that you can read and experience the film.

    In case you can't tell from my comment, this is absolutely one of my favorite films ever. I still get goose bumps and find the ending to be particularly terrifying and sad every time I watch it. 

    I never really connected with "Inland Empire", but I definitely agree that it could be seen as kind of a sister film.
    AntManBee
  • @DaveyMac Haha! That's right, I forgot about that great essay by Hulk. Good job by relinking it here for Bourbon Queen.
    DaveyMac
  • Great great great film. On first viewing, I came out of the cinema completely confused, but also extremely intrigued.

    Anyway, you can spend hours reading various interpretations on the web (which is very enjoyable in itself)

    But this article quickly sets you up with the basics real fast:
    http://www.salon.com/2001/10/24/mulholland_drive_analysis/
    DaveyMacAntManBee
  • Pretty great movie. There still things that don't make sense to me though.
  • AnominalAnominal San Francisco Bay Area
    I know a lot of people like the movie. I've watched it twice. Once because of a college assignment and again because I wanted to understand it. I just don't get the movie. I don't get it and I don't understand the love for it. I'm a big fan of Twin Peaks (the only other David Lynch thing that I know I've watched) but I was just confused the entire time with Mulholland Dr.
  • AnominalAnominal San Francisco Bay Area
    I know a lot of people like the movie. I've watched it twice. Once because of a college assignment and again because I wanted to understand it. I just don't get the movie. I don't get it and I don't understand the love for it. I'm a big fan of Twin Peaks (the only other David Lynch thing that I know I've watched) but I was just confused the entire time with Mulholland Dr.
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    edited June 2016
    All right, que the eye roll, but I will quote possibly the most famous thing said by David Lynch,  "I don't know why people expect art to make sense when they accept the fact that life doesn't make sense."

    It's a dream of a movie - as in dream logic, as in nothing is going to flow in linerally. If that's not your thing, totally fine, it doesn't appeal to everyone. But the movie is telling a story, and I promise it is not nonsense. When I first heard of David Lynch I was told that he makes movies confusing for the sake of it, I thought he was just this weird experimental arty filmaker. And he is, but his movies do have decipherable stories like anything else, he just frames them in extraordinarily unique ways. That's why I love his films so much. About a year ago I watched a fantastic 4 part video essay on the film that explained how the story was being told - how to follow cues that signal when a different reality is being entered, what echos of the first reality mean to the second half of the film, etc, etc. It set out to explain the movie as well as you can based on the plot, but the film can be interpreted in numerous ways. Unfortunately it has been removed from youtube because of the ridiculous copyright laws right now. But if you have interest, look around youtube for analysis - they won't be as in depth and well told as that one that was taken down...but they are out there. Or don't! His films are meant to be taken as you see them, interpreted by you. How you feel, is going to translate the story the best. 
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    edited June 2016
    Spoilers maybe for Mulholland Drive.... @Anominal I am not entirely sure that most people can decipher the movie without the assistance of others or a very deep study of the thing. Ultimately it is a lot different from Twin Peaks in that it isn't really plot driven. It is a drug/fever fueled nightmare into one of the characters' subconscious that bounces around between an accurate retelling of events, seemingly nonsensical side-stories, and a glamorized version of what happened.

    What I most enjoy about the film is how haunting it is and how it makes me feel. It isn't the odds and ends that I don't understand that stick with me, because I have already concluded that I won't understand all the nuts and bolts anymore than I will understand every aspect of my own dreams.

    I can totally understand why this is frustrating, I also think that when people tell someone "well you need to understand...*whatever* to appreciate the movie" it is kind of bullshit. So if the movie doesn't work for you without the hours of homework some have done, that is possibly a failing on the filmmaker's part. This movie isn't going to work for everyone, and I felt similarly about The Lobster after seeing it this week. That has a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I thought it was beyond dull and way too abstract for me to enjoy. The difference is, something about Mulholland Drive left its hooks in my brain like an ear worm and I needed to discover as much as I could about it. While with the Lobster, I'd prefer to just never think of it again. At the end of the day who knows why certain movies work for some people but not others. Can't explain it.

    I would be curious to find out what your professor had to say about the movie and also the other students in your class. If it was an assigned movie, there had to be a reason behind that.
  • AnominalAnominal San Francisco Bay Area
    @aberry89 That's somewhat weird that it isn't for me, as I lucid dream fairly frequently and write those dreams down, so dream logic is something my brain has fun playing with. But I doubt watching it again is going to really do much for me, although if at some point I'm feeling up to it, I may go down that youtube hole.

    @Garthgou81 Yeah. It's just one of those things. I've read Lord of the Rings and was slightly disappointed in some parts of the books that the left out of the movies (like greater depth to Gimli and Legolas), but overall those books just feel old to me. The pacing, style, and structure of the books just feel old in a way that Asimov's Foundation series doesn't feel. I know a lot of people love it, and I can see why, but it just isn't for me. I just have to accept that for this movie as well I guess.

    Actually, I was just about to type out that I couldn't remember what was discussed in class and what the professor thought, and while that's true, I just remembered it's because it was my girlfriend's assignment and I was just watching it with her. Afterwards I did try googling the meaning of the movie and that's what got me to give it another go. So sadly, I can't share the main points of why it was assigned.
  • I have some questions about this movie (more ancillary [sp?] than anything):

    1. Why is it the assassin seems to be the only character that is essentially the same in both timelines?
    2. Is the cowboy a pimp? I know he's briefly seen at the Mulholland Drive party.
    3. The woman the assassin speaks to outside of the diner is a "pro". Does she represent something Diane had to do when her career flounders?
    4. Is an interpretation of the film saying you can't completely fabricate something? That regardless of how you change it, it will always leads back to the truth.
    5. Did Diane ever have a real relationship with Camilla? Platonic, sexual or otherwise?
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    edited June 2016

    I have some questions about this movie (more ancillary [sp?] than anything):

    1. Why is it the assassin seems to be the only character that is essentially the same in both timelines?
    2. Is the cowboy a pimp? I know he's briefly seen at the Mulholland Drive party.
    3. The woman the assassin speaks to outside of the diner is a "pro". Does she represent something Diane had to do when her career flounders?
    4. Is an interpretation of the film saying you can't completely fabricate something? That regardless of how you change it, it will always leads back to the truth.
    5. Did Diane ever have a real relationship with Camilla? Platonic, sexual or otherwise?

    I'm writing some from memory because its been quite a while since I've seen it. But also so much is open to interpretation. So this is how I remembered thinking about it.

    1. Since the movie is mostly a drug-fueled, fever dream way for Diane to deal with her rejection by Camilla; there is no real purpose for the assassin to be portrayed in a different way in the dream vs. reality. I also think he is super integral to the story, but only as a plot purpose. There is no emotional attachment for Diane to the assassin, so again no reason for him to be construed differently.

    2. In real world, yes the cowboy exists as a pimp. Perhaps someone who was setting up Diane's prostitution. He is shown in both stories as always doing something clandestine or shady.

    3. That is always how I figured it. Perhaps she was another working girl who Diane ran into or was friends with during the course of her work.

    4. I think thats certainly an aspect of the film. During the climax Diane awakens from her dream and reality comes flooding back to her where before it was only edging its way in at the seems. She runs in a manic rage and commits suicide. Throughout the movie she has tried to fabricate a new reality for herself and it eventually came crashing down around her.

    5. It depends on what you consider real. I don't know if we are ever given enough of a glimpse into Camilla's point of view. The way I always interpreted it was that Camilla kept Diane around to make herself look better to the Hollywood bigwigs that they'd encounter. This eventually went as far as Camilla convincing Diane to sleep with whoever was interested in an effort to earn the favor of and roles in shows/movies. I considered it as a very one-sided relationship Diane constantly pined for Camilla, but it was never reciprocated. However Camilla wasn't about to turn down the opportunity of having someone who was so vulnerable and malleable. They may have slept together and lived together at some point, but only to string Diane along and pull her under her thumb.

    Again, all just my point of view based on memory and documents that I read to try and decipher this crazy film.
  • I know it's a popular opinion, but I've never gotten the vibe that Diane resorted to prostitution or that The cowboy was a pimp in all the times I've seen it. I still don't get that vibe even after having read that interpretation. I get why people interpret in that way, though. I just don't see it when I watch the movie.

    I've always viewed the cowboy as being totally unconnected to the real Diane and I see him functioning more as a symbol than anything else. To me, he is just a guy at Adam's party and he happens to walk by right after Camilla and the blonde girl kiss. It's a humiliating moment for Diane. Not only is the woman she loves getting married, but then she doesn't even get to be the girl on the side. The blonde girl finishes kissing Camilla and walks away. Diane follows her with her eyes and as soon as she exits the room, the cowboy walks by. That whole moment may be the moment where she decides to have Camilla killed. Or maybe not. I don't know. Either way that moment is a lasting moment for her and there are all kinds of little elements from just before and just after this moment that manifest themselves in her dream. The espresso, Angelo Badalamenti, the cowboy, Coco, etc. All of these things are terrible reminders of not only the woman she's lost but also her guilt in the decision she's made. (This just the way I read it though. I think Lynch basically expects everyone to have their experience and there is no right answer.)
     
    I do think she and Camilla had a sexual relationship and that everything you see post-Club Silencio is from the real Diane's perspective and it shows the fallout of their relationship ending. Plus Lynch has always called it a "love story".
    AntManBee
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    @DaveyMac Oh totally. The cowboy could definitely just be placed in her fever-dream because he happened to be passing through her life. I actually like that better because not everyone for Diane needs to be instrumental. Just how we have dreams where people appear of no real consequence. I just always figured that she had resorted to prostitution and that he was a representation of that. But he could have just easily been a strange background entity that was there during an influential moment. And we will never know the real story--which is completely fine by me.
  • I would say just watch it again. There was a year between my first and second watch. The first left me in awe, the second explained everything. Without discussing it with anyone or reading online theories (I had a life back then), I came to the exact same plot conclusions in the websites linked to above.
    DaveyMac
  • edited June 2016
    When you go to a museum or a gallery and stand and look at a work of
    art, especially  abstract, no two people may see the same thing.  It's a phenomenal movie, but you will ruin it for yourself if you try to explain, or have explained every little detail. I interpret it as being inside the mind of someone who went to Hollywood to live the dream, and you go in and out of reality with her,   What she wanted to happen, versus what happened to her, experiencing the dream turn in to a nightmare.   There are some unexplainable characters, but if you dwell on who they are or what they mean, you'll just get frustrated for no reason.  They can symbolize different things to different people at different times in their lives.  Hollywood can be poison that wrecks your life and you never recover from, or It can be a dream.  There's no rhyme or reason as to which path you end up on.
    DaveyMac
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    Good points all around...now Lynch's sister-movie (to Mulholland Drive) Inland Empire. I have no fucking clue. I can't make hide nor hair of that movie.
    DaveyMac
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    edited June 2016
    Great comment @Jujee . I agree with so much of what you said. It reminds me a lot of a Lynch interview I saw for the film where he said that it's a lot like music. You are meant to just experience it and it isn't meant to be explained and the act of explaining it actually detracts from the experience. And everyone has a different experience.

    I realize that I've spent several posts on both this and an older thread going against that whole idea, explaining how I interpret things, but sometimes I just can't resist diving in. It's a film I love so much and I love to talk about it. And your take has a lot of similarities with how I see the film. 

    Yeah, @Garthgou81 , I'm kind of with you on Inland Empire. Granted, I saw it in Japan and the non-English scenes were not subtitled in English, so I had no idea what was going through a lot of the scenes. Even still, that one just didn't click with me in the way that Mulholland Dr. did.
    Jujee
  • Sometimes reading some people's thoughts on a movie can help make more sense or strengthen what you personally believe. I know there may not be a strong basis to indicate Diane being a pro or doing porn but the cowboy being in her room and the hit man talking with that busty woman got me thinking. I don't remember a representation of that woman in real life and if I remember correctly she was kinda wearing the same clothes as Diane did at the meet. Also if she was struggling actress, how'd she get the 20k? I could not believe the bit parts she did paid extremely well.
    DaveyMac
  • @mileswarrin I hear you on getting people's thoughts and movies and how that can enhance the experience. That's a big reason why I love Bald Move and these forums so much. 

    It's just that, for this movie, I really feel like so many of the sites and articles out there, including some that I agree with, are so absolute and authoritative in their explanations as if they've completely cracked it and I just think that this movie is so slippery and that it cannot be nailed down with a logical explanation of everything. I do think there are elements of the film that can be nailed down in terms of broad strokes, but to assert that there is a specific, correct answer, to me goes against the spirit of what Lynch is doing. Granted, Lynch did open the door by giving his ten clues. I think that was just a marketing stunt, though, and I'm glad that he's never answered them himself. (Note: I know you weren't asserting anything or saying that you have the answers. I'm just trying to clarify what I was saying earlier.)

    Sorry if I'm starting to repeat myself here, but as to the cowboy being a pimp and whether or not Diane resorted to prostitution or porn or whatever, I personally don't find any of that stuff interesting and I just don't see it when I watch the film. I also don't really care or wonder where she got the 20K as it just doesn't seem important, to me, to the larger picture. I'm more interested in the Cowboy being related to right and wrong choices and a guilty conscious (He's even wearing a white hat, the traditional symbol of what's right and just in Hollywood westerns) rather than being a literal pimp in Diane's life. With so much of the crazy shit going on in the movie, I don't see him appearing in her room and telling her to wake up as confirmation that he is actually there or related to her in any meaningful way.

    This is just the way I see it. I totally understand how you could see it differently, though.
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    Oh, and just to be clear I didn't mean to make it sound like I had the end-all-be-all of answers to any part of this movie. So I hope thats not how I came across. What I wrote previously is just my interpretation of things. I do agree it goes against the spirit to specifics. But I also know to feel a certain amount of satisfaction I need at least a bare bones narrative for a flick like this. The details really aren't of consequence. The cowboy I've always written off since I knew I would never be able to decipher and any answer outside of them coming from Lynch himself is just conjecture. And thats all I've done in this thread is conjecture. The mystery of this movie is what has made me obsess about it for a while. And to have the ruined with definite answers would be really disappointing.
    DaveyMac
  • No worries. It's all good. I borrowed it from my library and watched it twice last week and those 2 caught my eye.
    DaveyMac
  • @Garthgou81 Yeah I didn't think you were coming off like you had all the answers or anything. I wasn't trying to imply that anyone in particular was doing that. I was just trying to make a general (possibly inaccurate?) observation about a lot of the sites and articles out there about this particular film and I've come to dislike some of the, in my opinion, over-analysis of it, especially after having seen a bunch of interviews with Lynch and the way he approaches film-making.

    Anyway, apologies if I've kind of killed the discussion a bit. That certainly wasn't my intent.
  • @DaveyMac, you didn't. Movie posts just tend to get less comments, even commissioned casts.
    DaveyMac
  • Natter CastNatter Cast San Francisco, CA
    What happened is David Lynch remade Lost Highway without telling anybody is what happened :)
  • All right so apparently Mullholand is the next movie on the guys' list. I really don't know how to feel about that one; it's definitely a movie they'll need to re-watch at least once, I don't know if they have the time for this.

    First time I watched it, I did like the experience but by the end I was completely lost. I went online instead of trying to figure it out on my own, which could have been more fun, and I was blown away. Made me watch back almost the entire movie and especially the numerous good scenes over and over again.



    AntManBeemileswarrin
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    edited September 2016
    Yeah, I am really curious how this commission will go. In all honesty it could go either way. It is a mesmerizing flick even if you don't have the faintest idea of what it all means. I am both looking forward to it and and also fearing the response if they really hate it.

    My guess is J&A won't know what hit them, but that they will both find it to be an amazing fever dream of an experience, yet unable to entirely explain why.
    AntManBeeDaveyMac
  • Oh my god. I watched this years ago and fucking hated it. But I decided to watch again after listening to the podcast. This blew me away. This is exactly what A.Ron said- this is a blue box on a white canvas what does it mean to you. I just finished this movie seconds ago, and I can't tell you what this means in a linear plot sense, but what I can tell you is from the moment the woman sang 'crying' til the very end, I have never felt
    This moved, but at the same time had this much difficulty describing how a movie has made me feel. I'm confused, devastated but also weirdly appreciative. And I don't know why. Way to go David Lynch! This film has single handedly made me do a 180 on how I judge you as a filmmaker. Great pick for a community commission everybody who chipped in. Thanks for giving me a reason to rewatch this masterpiece.
    michielterlouwDaveyMac
  • Nice to hear. Money well spent
    DaveyMac
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