From the Director’s shoe: An in-depth interpretation of Mulholland Dr

What does it mean to have an interpretation of Mulholland Dr?

The demand for interpretation of Mulholland Dr and the infamous deal still rings out sonorously within our minds. Interpreting Mulholland Dr is no less than a criminal investigation. The detective may try to connect every bit of the jigsaw puzzle of a criminal incident. However, the former differs from the latter in that the conclusions arrived at are only subjective and may differ from person to person upon their understanding of the movie.

As much as Mulholland Dr. is a twisted work of art, it also appears to be deliberately negating the attempt to be fully understood. Critics and general viewers have continued to interpret the movie along different lines since its release.

However, truth be told, most interpretations that one comes across only seem to be intensified persuasions to nullify one truth and assert the other. Most of them refer to the sequence prior to the unlocking of the box as a dream. Assertions such as this one are in abundance. It is perhaps because of the director’s hinting towards this assertion himself. However, as a viewer, I felt that this also negates the intricacies and nuances present throughout the movie. This movie calls for multiple interpretations rather than one. Therefore, through an in-depth interpretation of Mulholland Dr, I would attempt to shed light on something different from this fossilized truth.

Camilla Rhodes on "A Sylvia North's Story"  (Interpretation of Mulholland Dr)
Camilla Rhodes on “A Sylvia North’s Story”

The “insane” demand to be understood

In the movie, the scenes are jumbled throughout. They appear in such a manner that at first watch such an act looks deliberately random, but that is not so. Only after one has sat through the entire movie, one realizes that the whole is literally a sum of all these parts. The infamous deal appears as a vital key required for the interpretation of Mulholland Dr.

Now it is the turn of the viewer to comprehend what they just watched. The peculiar feeling one mostly gets is that the film, in no way, seems mistaken or incomplete in its narration. Lynch’s claim in an interview of the movie being a complete idea is absolutely valid. It is the act of connecting the dots that demands the viewer’s attention. The narration itself is a full-fledged war against linearity in storytelling.

The one trap, I feel, that most of us viewers always tend to fall into is that of a linear comprehension of this film. A conscious viewer is aware of the seemingly irrational non-linearity of the plot. Such a viewer would not assert this movie merely as the protagonist’s dream arising from the Freudian subconscious mind. The many attempts to interpret Mulholland Dr are so deliberately rationale that their absence would probably make the individuals go insane if they fail to comprehend the movie in terms of human senses.

The hitman showing the blue key to Diane
The hitman showing the blue key to Diane

An interpretation of the play of passion in Mulholland Dr!

There is a crucial point where a director, or a storyteller, differs from those whom they narrate to. It is at that crossroads of the mind which leads towards sensibility on one of the paths and towards passion on another -the storyteller chooses the latter.

It cannot be denied that the movie itself is a passionate endeavor on the part of the main characters. Whether they engage in either love or hate, this passion is perhaps the movie’s driving force overall. The underlying intense passion is the skeleton and the scenes are like flesh glued over it. The movie contains certain symbols for this. These, like the passion they refer to, holds “beyond-sense” significance. The most prominent of these is the blue box and the key. These two objects, irrespective of whether their purpose is revealed or veiled, are fated to reunite. We can draw a comparison between them and the two main characters –Betty/Diane and Rita/Camilla.

(from left to right) Rita and Betty at the theater  from Interpretation of Mulholland Dr
(from left to right) Rita and Betty at the theater

The car accident and the purse…..

This may come as vague for some. It would be better to delve into an analysis of some of the intricacies of the movie itself. Let us start off with the initial scenes themselves. Here, Camilla gets off from the clutches, seemingly of kidnapers, following the accident. The purse that she takes off with her may not have evaded our attention. This purse belonged to her former lover Diane. This leads us to ponder over the presence of the bag in the car of the kidnappers, who were probably carrying out Diane’s deal with the hitman. If such is the case, then the hitman handed them over the bag with the bundle of money as a fee.

The Diner scene showing the man narrating his dream
The Diner scene showing the man narrating his dream

Ah, the so renowned Diner scene…

The Diner scene succeeding Camilla‘s escape is one that took place prior to the accident.

Here, a man was narrating his dream to another fellow.

According to my interpretation, this conversation was taking place in Mulholland Dr on the very day of striking the infamous deal. We can conclude this as a possibility. It is because of the presence of that man outside of the cafe in the later moments of the movie.

These were the moments depicting the deal that was taking place between Diane and the hitman. Here, the meeting of his eyes and Diane‘s parallel the initial mentioned moments of the movie.

There, the man headed towards the back of the cafe outside. On his way, he momentarily looked inside the cafe. However, at that time, the camera did not reveal what his eyes met.

These two scenes in the two halves of the movie were taking place simultaneously. The presence of the demon at the back being the succeeding scene in both also hints at such a possibility.

The deal taking place between Diane and the hitman (Interpretation of Mulholland Dr)
The deal taking place between Diane and the hitman

The interpretation of the deal in Mulholland Dr

Diane struck the deal not only out of revenge but also out of the jealousy resulting from love. Thus, love was not absent. There can be two possibilities, according to me, of what Diane demanded from this deal.

Let us consider the first one to be that of the murder of her former lover. If that is so, then the task resulted in a failure. The presence of the “blue key” in Rita’s bag meant that the predator, her former lover, had become the prey (by killing herself). Many would ponder at this point over the presence of the same key on Diane’s table. It was in the latter half of the movie prior to her suicide.

However, when Camilla escaped at the beginning of the movie, it suggested the incompletion of the task. There are scenes that confirm this car accident. For instance, one scene shows the hitman in search of “a brunette, maybe a little beat up”. Moreover, another scene depicts his conversation with another fellow over a car accident. But, then, it does not explain the presence of the key on Diane’s table in the latter half, as it was a token of completion of the task. It would not, however, do to assert its presence as a mere play of her imagination.

Is it possible if through the deal….

A second possibility occurs. This interpretation of the infamous deal of Mulholland Dr asserts itself of crucial significance. The interpretation that Diane wanted to reunite with Camilla by striking this deal. However absurd it may appear, what she wanted was to be caught in an eternal loop together with Camilla.

She desired to make her former lover realize those pangs of suffering that she had caused Diane to go through. Various instances in the movie point towards this recurrence. The most prominent of them was the casting of one Camilla Rhodes. She was in Adam Kesher‘s(and not Bob Brooker‘s) movie Sylvia North’s Story. It is on the sets of this movie that Diane and Camilla first met. For someone who has watched the movie, this scene is like “history repeating itself”. Moreover, the threatening of Adam to cast Camilla for the lead role hints towards the desperation of the Castligliane brothers. Even if their presence in the movie signifies fraud taking place in the insides of Hollywood, they serve an additional purpose here. They ensure the perpetuation of this loop.

The newly introduced Camilla Rhodes, while Betty was a budding movie actress, thus, would ensure that the dots stayed connected. The perpetual loop would begin with the casting of Camilla in Sylvia North’s Story. It would, then, lead to her sensual relationship with one of the many auditioning actresses. Furthermore, her marriage with a director would end the previous relationship. This would result in the deal between the hitman and her ex-lover. Ultimately, the final re-union would follow the failed attempt seemingly of her execution.

(from left to right) Camilla and Carol for Interpretation of Mulholland Dr
(from left to right) Camilla and Carol

The dilemma of differences

Here, someone may inquire whether not the now-Camilla and Rita appear as different individuals in the movie. They appear as noticeably different individuals. Yes, in fact, they do.

Also, I would like to shed light on a theory. It may not necessarily be someone by the name of Diane from the auditioning actresses who would get involved with Camilla. A plausible theory would be that this woman would be Carol, who auditioned prior to Camilla.

She was present at a party in the second half of the movie. Here, she engaged in an act of sensual kissing with the former Camilla(now-Rita). Prior to that, Diane had exclaimed how she had “wanted the lead so bad”. Now, when Betty, during the first half, turned up at Adam’s studio, Carol was auditioning. She was as we see her in the latter half at the party, but Camilla appears altogether different. Carol had pressed upon Adam to sign her for the movie. She said that her manager would be “bugging” Adam “day and night”. She had also exclaimed that she loved the script. It appeared that she wanted the lead ” so bad”.

(from left to right) Rita and Betty Interpretation of Mulholland Dr
(from left to right) Rita and Betty

An interpretation of the consequences of Mulholland Dr‘s deal

Meanwhile, the former Camilla, now-Rita was living through that part of the deal which ensured her reunion with Betty(former Diane). However, such a deal does not come without a price -it demanded Diane‘s death to reunite her with Camilla(now-Rita) as Betty.

The key on Diane‘s table was a prompt for her to carry the necessary task to further the deal. It appeared there on the very day that Rita ended up on the lawn of Aunt Ruth’s apartment, entering which in the morning the day after led to an absolute eradication of her former identity -to such an extent that no trace of it was left behind, not even Sylvia North’s Story, which became non-existent- except for some fragments here and there that contributed to the reawakening of old familiarity. This reawakening happened in her act of love-making with Betty. It also happened at the instance of the discovery of Diane‘s corpse.

Before the prompt, there was an investigation regarding her disappearance. Dianne’s neighbor told her that two detectives were seeking her(probably because of her being related to Camilla). Finally, Diane shot herself to join her lover in another chain of cause and effect with the prompt. Diane ensured, through the deal, her reunion with her lover- for once and for all.

Rebekah del Rio's song at the theatre in Mulholland Dr
Rebekah del Rio‘s song at the theater

Concluding the interpretation of Mulholland Dr and its infamous deal

The overall plot is thus about the relationship of two individuals manifesting themselves differently throughout the movie, who are fated to meet and separate in an eternal recurrence. The movie’s abrupt ending, with the main characters’ floating joyful faces, hints towards such a possibility. This scene then leads on to that stage of a theater. This was the place where Rita and Betty went to, and after having heard a man speak -“It’s all recorded”- had seen him show how he had meant so. This was perhaps what summarizes the entire movie -that what we have watched until now, or are going to watch, all of it, just like the enchanting song of Rebekah del Rio, is “recorded”. The various scenes and both the halves of the movie are perpetuating in a loop like a record.

(from left to right) Diane and Camilla from Mulholland Dr
(from left to right) Diane and Camilla

Was that all?

However, that was not all.

This deal also ensured Diane‘s revenge and not just her reunion.

The blue box that Betty got hold of on this night was meant for her to acquire as a necessity for the completion of the deal that her previous self had struck.

Her disappearance in a frame soon after is a symbolic abandonment, signifying the fulfillment of her revenge at a moment when she had elevated herself in her lover’s eyes, and thus, to the completion of the deal. This scene showing the unlocking of the box, with Rita puzzled by Betty‘s disappearance, is the actual end of the movie.

The chain of events, however, keeps recurring eternally and it does not matter in what form these two selves manifest each time(Carol‘s act at the party may be hinting at another Diane). They are all “recorded” in order to narrate the core underlying story of love, betrayal, jealousy, and revenge.

The demon at the back of the cafe from Mulholland Dr
The demon at the back of the cafe

What, then, is Mulholland Dr ?

In rational conclusion, both of these sequences may be dreams. They may also possibly be narrations of similar events that take place in the insides of major industries. No major movie industry is devoid of internal affairs, betrayal and jealousy. Lynch’s movie may only be hinting at such occurrences. Largely forgotten or overlooked, they only keep on recurring.

Mulholland Dr is notable for the expert expression of emotions that gets reflected throughout. It is a bombardment of one different emotional arousal after another. Baptized deep in sensuality, it does make effective use of the cathartic response of the viewer. Unfortunate it would be for those, who may rely completely on the senses to grasp a thorough comprehension of the movie. This analysis would only add to the ones available already in abundance and seeks, if anything, for the viewers to bathe in this twisted work of art, which is a necessary watch.

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