My theory is that, like Halloween, one is either a fan of David Lynch‘s films or not. I am. Recently, I watched Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” for the second time, and the first time since moving to the Los Angeles area. It was quite eye-opening.
As for the film itself, I understood more the second time around. “Mulholland Drive” simply cannot be viewed only once (unless you are in the category of unfortunate people who don’t like David Lynch films, in which case once is probably too much). But then I did some research, and found out some really interesting things. Since I rented and do not own the dvd, I did not know that Lynch inserted ten clues to watching the movie inside the back cover of the dvd box.
I would encourage anyone who is about to watch the movie, whether for the first time or not, to check out Lynch’s clues beforehand. But, for dvd renters with no access to the box, be warned that every link to the clues that I found online also contains people’s interpretations of the answers, which you should skip until after you concoct your own.
After reading Lynch’s clues and different interpretations of them, I have come to my own satisfying conclusions about what happened in the movie, when it happened, and what was represented. I really like this video of Lynch explaining (or not explaining, in typically Lynch fashion) to an English teacher who says she didn’t understand the film, “you do know, you do know for yourself, and what you know is valid.”
But beyond the satisfying task of interpreting “Mulholland Drive” lie the film’s lessons about the mythical and real “Hollywood.” Certainly, these themes are not new, having been explored in many previous films about the movie business, such as “Sunset Boulevard,” “Barton Fink,” and “The Player.” We know them by heart: Hollywood is where naive dreams come crashing against cynical reality, often represented by the loss of innocence of the starlet or the screenwriter fresh off the bus from Kansas, etc. But I believe that living in the Los Angeles area, where many people work in or with the film industry and all of us know people who do, gives us a different lens through which to view “Mulholland Drive” and other films about Hollywood, and thus another level of satisfaction.
For me, watching a David Lynch movie is like Hollywood itself: it both attracts and repels, sometimes simultaneously. But at least in the case of Lynch, the attraction always wins out.