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Mulholland Drive directed by David Lynch was released in 2001, though it did not gross much at the box

office the film has since then won great reviews by critics of great caliber like Roger Ebert and Peter Travers. Having missed at the academy awards the film won Lynch the best director at Cannes and made notable appearances in many other film festivals. This film on dream psychology, small town America and Hollywood’s mean machine status takes several viewings before it starts making sense to us. Lynch also came out with ten clues to help the viewer understand the film. Several different interpretations still exist for the film, but no explanation till date has been able to tie up all the loose ends. Lynch never came forward with any interpretation for any of his films. When asked, he had always said he wants to leave it to the viewers to come up with their own interpretation.

On being analyzed with the auteur theory Lynch is not just a proven auteur but can also be rated as a true Cahiers du Cinema auteur. His films have a strong vein of auteurism running through them that at term Lynchian has been coined to describe his kind of cinema. Lynch has also carved a place for himself in the history of cinema. All his films lash out on stereotyping in cinema, fall under the film noir genre, and involve dream psychology. Almost all of his protagonists live in a state of Denial. Lynch also tends to include sexual abuse especially incest and violence in relationships in most of his films. His films have a dark theme and are not decipherable after a single viewing. Mulholland Drive is very similar to Lynch’s earlier film Lost Highway.

Mulholland Drive has been carefully constructed with intertexuality, subtle meaning and semiotics in almost every scene. Even the properties used and placement of certain objects have something to add to the meaning and course of the story. For example the placement of a phone next to a red lampshade indicating that the protagonist is in the call girl business. Simple properties like paintings and ashtrays and blue boxes have a story to tell.

The film can be divided into two distinctive parts, the first half being a drug induced dream sequence and the other half being reality with a liberal dosage of hallucinations and flashbacks. The film does not say a story but alludes to one of hope and great betrayal, history and Hollywood stereotypes, lost lives and vendettas.

Though the film is built on a non-linear narrative it has a single stranded narrative since it is the story of one person. A lot of Hollywood stereotypes like gangsters, hit men, femme fatale, a naïve girl, cowboy and dominant female characters are used.

Mulholland drive falls under numerous genres like film noir, mystery, horror and drama.

Since the protagonist dreams up half of the film there is a huge difference in characterization between the two parts of the film. There are mythological and historical connection to the film one example would be the Greek goddess Diana avenging the death of her partner Camilla, just like in the film (according to one interpretation). The life and death of Diana Princess of Wales could also be related to this story. Some reviewers believe that this film states the story of one of the biggest sex symbol of Hollywood Marilyn Monroe. Even the name that the amnesiac picks up in the film ‘Rita’ from the movie poster of Gilda indicates the truth of the story which is only told to us by way of symbolism.

The film tries to showcase Hollywood as this big means machine run by thugs, which uses up people and then discards them, it also ventures into a homosexual love affair. The film also deals with child abuse causing a huge dent in the victim’s life for a long time. Traces of the sexual abuse keeps coming back to remind the already suicidal protagonist in many places. The assassination of her lover, that the protagonist orders, but is trying to forget now also comes back to finally drive her into killing herself.

The film has a huge scope for psycho analysis and semiotic analysis as well as thorough scene by scene analysis because most of the scenes in the film are interrelated. Every dialogue and the style of delivery can be analyzed psychologically and semantically. All three songs in the film can be analyzed by their placement and using semiotics. Even the song at the club tells a story of betrayal, murder and suicide.

Lynch also used one of his characters to portray himself, the despair he feels when someone intervenes in his artistic choices and show how he hates the Hollywood studio system.

Though most actors had to play two roles, with each role being very different from the other, none of them fell short of a phenomenal performance.

The film uses numerous metaphors like the camera clashing on to a pillow in the first scene which is the only way we realize that what follows is a dream and that the head on the pillow is that of the dreamer. Lynch also uses a large dosage of slang get his point across like in the scene where Adam pours pink paint over the ‘family jewels’ (slang for a man’s penis.)

Colour psychology can be used to decode the meaning of the different colours used in the film. The lighting is mostly dark. The colour blue is used to indicate transition throughout the film.

To conclude Mulholland Drive (originally written for tv) is rich in meaning and is a well-made film. This excellent piece of film is worth analyzing and is a lesson for growing filmmakers.

Reviews by Dr. Allan Shaw, Roger Ebert and Peter Trevers have been used to understand and analyze different aspects of the film.

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