Mulholland Drive Explained (a bit)

I was supposed to write a post about the recitation on 4/25, but I was unfortunately unable to come to class. Therefore, I am writing a post about the assigned article, “Lost on Mulholland Drive: Navigating David Lynch’s Panegyric to Hollywood” by Todd McGowan. I am opting to write this post in a series of bulleted points, because I feel that this will be more easily accessible to those who might want to more fully understand the film (assuming that they have not already read this article, and assuming that they do not already understand the film).

 

Separate Worlds

The film is divided into two separate and mutually exclusive worlds: that of fantasy (the first part of the film) and that of desire (the second part of the film).

The world of desire is also the world of reality, although it is not presented “within time.”

This interpretation is supported by the dramatic change in “mise-en-scene, editing, and the overall character of the shots” between the different parts of the film.

The fantasy world is well-lit (more Hollywood-esque), colorful, and follows a relatively straight forward narrative format,

The world of desire is seen in low light, has a much more muted pallete, and has no narrative.

 

The Mystery of Desire?

Diane creates the fantasy world portrayed by the first part of the film in order to be able to fulfill her desire for Camilla in fantasy.

Betty is Diane’s perfect ego, and Rita is the obtainable object of desire/ love object.

The opening scene where Rita loses her memory puts the audience within Betty’s fantasty – Like Rita, “the spectator has no idea what the driver wants,” and “like her, we have no foundation on which to sense of the situation.”

The relationship between Betty and Rita is a fantasized, more successful version of the failed one that actually exists between Diane and Camilla

The fantasy is structured like a mystery – therefore, the fantasy both solves the mystery of desire and creates mystery to “obscure the necessary deadlock that all desire animates.”

 

Fantasized Temporality

There is no time, no chronology in the world of desire because desire does not move forward.

Fantasy constructs a sense of time so that desire can move forward.

Fantasy also fills the gaps that are experienced in the world of desire.

Ex. In the world of desire, director Adam Kesher mentions, “so I got the pool, and she got the pool man.” From this fragment of understanding, the world of fantasy constructs a full-blown narrative about Adam’s relationship with his wife and her lover.

 

Diane’s Wish Fulfillment

In Diane’s fantasy, she strips Camilla of her power over her; Camilla seems to taunt Diane by sharing her sexuality with others in from of her.

In fantasy, Adam is also stripped of his power – his film is taken out of his control, he is forced to choose Camilla as his leading lady (also suggesting in fantasy that Camilla only got her big break because it was forced, appeasing Diane’s sense of failure in only ever procuring bit parts).

Some characters change completely – Coco goes from landlord in fantasy (a maternal figure) to Adam’s mother in desire

Both Betty and Rita’s characters range widely, suggesting that they are not “real.”

 

The Successful Sexual Relationship

The idea of sexual relationships as the primary stumbling block in human relations is presented.

The film does not reduce the lesbian relationship to a heterosexual one, but refuses to romanticize it – no sexual relationship can succeed.

 

Going All the Way in Fantasy

Lynch seems to suggest that Hollywood does not go far enough in fantasy to fully support it – it cannot be fulfilling, it cannot push the characters and spectators into “the Real,” unless it is fully supported.

The fantasy has a feminine structure – it goes to far past the fulfillment of the sexual relationship to the point that it must end. With the end of the successful relationship comes the end of the fantasy (seen in the Club Silencio).

The blue box is the portal between the fantasy and the Real/ the world of desire.

The Cowboy is the personification of the superego, the conscience, that pushes Diane out of fantasy with his call to “wake up.”

When Diane succeeds in having Camilla killed, the barrier between fantasy and desire collapses. The fantastic versions of the old couple from the airport enter reality and terrorize Betty. She kills herself.

The Real is first encountered when Betty and Rita sees the body of Diane, although they think in fantasy that it looks like Rita.

Fantasy forces the Real upon the fantasizer.

Fantasy is the “privileged path to the Real.”

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