Jitterbug contest

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Erniesam
 
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Jitterbug contest

Postby Erniesam » 22 Oct 2013

The first scene with the jitterbug contest I find very difficult to place. I have thought about it alot and have changed my opinion about it several times. So this explanation isn't most likely to be my final interpretation. I just want to elaborate on it.

First of all I think it's important to keep in mind that I view the film as dream-fantasy-reality, where each segment is getting closer to the truth on it's own as well as the segment as a whole being a step closer to reality.

Secondly, I'm of the opinion that Diane has been abused by her father (and mother is complicit by covering up) and that Diane has repressed the image of her parents and replaced it by that of her grant parents.

The jitterbug contest does not take place in the dream, because we see Diane getting to bed after this scene. What than are we to make of it? Did it realy happen or is it also part of Diane's fantasy? In my opinion there are only 3 options:
1/ It realy did happen the way Diane remembers it.
2/ It realy did happen but NOT the way Diane remembers it.
3/ It did NOT happen and is part of Diane's fantasy.

1.
Let's assume it did take place and Diane realy did win it. How are we to explain than the difficult appearance of her grant parents? Is it because she wanted them there, but that they were already dead? Or because in reality it were her parents who were there and Diane isn't fully able to place the false image of her grand parents at that scene? Both are plausible, but this approach has one fatal flaw: it doesn't fit the plotstructure of the movie. In the second segment, her fantasy, Diane mentions this jitterbug contest, but it seems like she's almost ashamed of it in the company of the important people in Hollywood. It seems like such a little event.

The point is: what is the change of this event in reality? We know that in the dream things are more detached from reality than in her fantasy. Still, the jitterbug contest isn't part of the dream. So, when we assume it is a big happening in Diane's life, while in the fantasy it is a small thing, what should we make of it in reality?

2.
When Diane did enter a jitterbug contest and even win it, but she has glorified her memory of it, what are we to make of it then? This approach is more plausible, because we know Diane has a tendency to picture things way more colorful than they in reality were.

When this scene is indeed a glorified picture, we certainly can explain the difficulty of picturing the grant parents. The scene itself is not real or at least not a real representation of what happened, so the grant parents do not fit this picture. I'm of the opinion that the grant parents of Diane were already dead by this time (she looks at least 16 in this scene), because the abuse probably started earlier. Would her grant parents be alive, would Diane not have told them? Furthermore, when we assume that Diane has replaced the image of her parents with that of her grant parents, we can conclude that Diane realy pictures her parents in this scene. But...she does not want her parents, because she hates them. Maybe that's why she is having difficulty placing them / her grant parents there.

So, when we conclude that this scene is a distorted memory of reality in Diane, we can follow this distortion through the fantasy, where Diane is ashamed of this jitterbug contest, but...what would this mean for reality? From a glorious moment to a very little moment to...what? To perhaps Diane not winning the contest at all? That would be a logical route within her dream and fantasy to reality. There are still little things about this sequence that makes this approach a little awkward.

3.
What if this contest didn't happen at all? That would also explain the difficulty Diane has placing her parents / grant parents at the scene. Let's explore the logical deductions from and clues for this assumption.

a. If it did not happen, that would mean that Diane made it all up. Why? A reason could be to lift herself up from the misery of abuse or to give herself a boost of self esteem. We can assume that it would not be a consciously created fantasy, but one which is automatically born out of her misery. We know that Diane had the tendency to escape into fantasy and her way was to loose herself into the magic of Hollywood and literally to escape to Hollywood itself.

b. We do not see Diane dance herself; we only get to see her carrying the prize and step into the foreground. She does NOT participate. It's like she has seen a contest on television and placed herself in it.

c. Why a jitterbug contest? When we look at aunt Ruth and conclude that Diane based her on Rita Hayworth, an actress she probably had seen many times on tv or in theatres and which she probably adored. Hayworth was a star in the 40-ies and 50-ies, exactly the time in which the jitterbug was popular. Could it be that Diane had a vision of herself within that time frame, next to Rita Hayworth, and assumed she won first prize?

d. This approach fits perfectly within the structure of the plot (dream-fantasy-reality) of the movie. From a highpoint in Diane's life to a little occasion in her fantasy to nothing at all in reality.

e. It also fits perfectly within the structure of the film itself. The jitterbug scene represents Diane's biggest fantasy lie; an occasion that did not take place and an achievement she did not earn. The end of the movie represents the bitter reality in Diane's life and that's her suicide. The juxtaposition is than: ultimate fantasy to ultimate reality.

f. A final clue to the jitterbug scene not being real would be the blending of the characters in Diane's fantasy after her suicide. All these characters were part of Diane's fantasy like the Bum, Rita and Camilla. But...we also see the image of a young Diane like we have seen in the jitterbug scene. So, is she, like the rest of the characters in that sequence fictitious? You can assume of course, that after Diane had won the contest, she began to create her fantasy, because after that highpoint in her life she only went downwards. Still, I find that approach not convincing, because the characters do NOT blend into this image of Betty but into Diane, including this image self. So, to me that's a strong clue that this image of herself is indeed fictitious and that the contest did NOT take place.

Finally I want to mention something I've read on this forum. I do not recall it myself, but apparently there is something being said in Spanish before the jitterbug-contest. Translated it is this: "This is something new." That could mean two things and in my opinion support the 3rd approach.

1. "This is something new" can mean that the sequence, the jitterbug-scene is new in Diane's life, because it did not take place.

2. It can also mean, that the jitterbug itself was something new and that would mean that this sequence plays at the start of the popularity of the jitterbug (in the 1950-ies) and this would definately suggest that this is a fantasy of Diane that never took place.

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Erniesam
 
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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby Erniesam » 26 Oct 2013

I like to make an important correction on the post above. Now I do not think the parents of Diane abused her, but her grandparents (see topic: Who abused Diane?). This alteration doesn't change the essence of the post above much, exept for the fact that her grandparents were the ones who were guilty of Diane's abuse. So, the difficulty of picturing her grandparents at that scene can mean two things in my opinion:

1. Diane doesn't want her grandparents to be there, but it is customary to have ones parents at such an event
2. Because the scene itself is fictitious, Diane cannot picture the image of her real grandparents.

I guess both assumptions are plausible and can be applicated to the scene at the same time.

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby outofthewoods » 31 Mar 2014

The jitterbug scene is just amazing... It's my current obsession. Remember Lynch's first clue: he tells us to pay PARTICULAR attention to the beginning of the film.

One of the most important things to me is how Betty and the old people are the very FIRST characters we are introduced to, & they are bathed in blinding white light. That is not something to be taken lightly. This is very important stuff.

These "image" of Betty with the old people @ her side first appears in front of the dancers as a "dancing" white blur. The blur flutters across the screen in a rapid movement as if "dancing" along with the dancers. To me it resembles very much the flickering (dancing) flames of a fire. It's also important to note that this blurry image of the threesome (betty + old couple) is accompanied by a specific sound. The sound seems to mimic the sporadic movements of the image. Also, when the image very briefly comes into focus and we can clearly see the three people, the sound stops (silencio), then quickly resumes when the images goes blurry and begins flickering again. But now an important detail that I think often goes without notice is how the background changes while the images of Betty and the old couple are being shown. The dancers & purple disappear and reveal the blurry bedroom WHILE the images of Betty and company REMAIN on the screen. Then they fade so it's just the blurry bedroom. Then finally, for the last time, accompanied by a strange sound, the "white light" of an indistinguishable Betty & old couple dances once more across the screen. This time, the sound effect is very different. The flickering quickly disappears and the POV goes into the pillow and goes black and then we see the MD sign and the limo etc. and soon enough we are reunited with the familiar faces of Betty and the old couple.

I need to get more detailed about this... The jitterbug scene has a LOT going on if you acknowledge all of the apparent details in them. Just looking at what is on the screen is enough to inform us that this scene is STRANGE. There is no real feeling of space or time, everything seems to just be floating (there's no floor and no ceiling). There are multiple "versions" of the same dancers on the screen @ the same time, in different sizes, which is impossible so there's magic going on here.

Now to someone who's seen it once, they probably see just one "space". Dancers in front of a purple background, & random black shadows of the dancers across the purple. But actually, those "shadows" act as peepholes into another "space" where we see MORE dancers, BEHIND the purple "backdrop". These dancers are dancing in front of a BLACK "backdrop."

Pretty damn interesting if you think about it! It's like there are multiple "layers." The dancers in front of the purple, and the dancers behind the purple. And when the bright white images of Betty and the old people come into the picture it creates more layers onto the screen. And not just one more, either! In one layer we got the "white blob" that resembles a transparent flame dancing over the jitterbug scene.. When it stops "dancing" and changing size, it briefly comes into focus and we see the 3 smiling characters, but then it goes back to being a dancing flame and then disappears at the exact moment another bright white image of Betty, very clear and bathed in extremely bright light just like the other image, walks onto the screen (her head appears directly over the "white blob" just as it disappears!), Betty "walks" into the frame until she fills the screen from bottom to top and a new sound effect gets layered over the Jitterbug music: the sound of applause. But then the image of the threesome pops back onto the screen, layered over. It is at this EXACT moment that the jitterbug music stops. But we still hear the applause and the weird sound the blurry image of the threesome makes. We must mark this moment as significant maybe... which is further proved by what happens next

Now at this point in the scene....here is the best part. I feel like this HAS to be important despite the fact it's probably gone unnoticed all these years. Since we're so focused on these images of Betty in the foreground which eventually almost take up the whole screen, we forget that in the background the jitterbug dancers have still been there the whole time. But as I just said, the music stops right when the image shows up over "solo Betty" and so then, a moment after, the jitterbug scene fades away to reveal the blurry bedroom floor as the new background.. but the bright white images stay, and at the exact moment that the cross-fade occurs between jitterbug & bedroom, clear images of the old couple "walk" into the frame and close-in on "solo Betty" (or now not-so-solo Betty). This is EXTREMELY significant, especially because, when their faces "step" into the shot, they align with their faces in the other "layer" on the screen right before they fade away and we're left with that original image of the threesome which again briefly comes into focus before also disappearing and we see all along we've been looking through the eyes of someone...and we see their Point of View as they stare at the floor beside their bed and, once again, that blurry image of the threesome dances like a flame over the scene before disappearing for the last time.... or is it?

So right here is a possible answer to the OP Ernie: the jitterbug scene is being seen in the mind of the person who's POV travels into the pillow (maybe Diane maybe not) as they stare at the floor of their bedroom. It's a perfect explanation as to why the white images intersect both scenes.

When considering all these details about those "white images" and how they can help shed light on the rest of the film, man I feel my mind is blown. I'm bursting with ideas. If reading this gave any of you new ideas please share! I will definitely keep going once I collect my thoughts a little bit.

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby outofthewoods » 01 Apr 2014

But a few more things I think of when relating this to the ending: The old couple first show up during the jitterbug scene, in which we have dancers changing in size/proportions. So when the old couple change in size @ the end it could be alluding to their appearance in that scene. Then after the suicide eventually we see more images of Betty bathed in extremely bright light, but this time with so-called Rita in her blonde wig, and this time superimposed over a city at night with bright lights, and then finally over the blue-lit curtain @ club silencio where her face disappears, and then right after, the swirling blue lights fade along with a sound effect until the stage is lit normally and the curtains are now red. The sound effect stops. The lady whispers "silencio".

Also, remember I said the blurry white image that flickers during the jitterbug scene reminds me of a dancing flame? At the end after the suicide we see dancing flames behind the bum.

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby skytop » 05 Apr 2014

my favourite explanation of the opening scene is the one from the determinism theory by that German university professor. Credit for the below translation goes to Bob Brooker:

"That idea is being illustrated in a scene I have withheld hitherto. Most people forget about the opening of Mulholland Dr. because it does not seem to belong to the rest of the film. It elevates itself from the remaining soundtrack by assertively frisky dance music (Jitterbug). We watch dancing couples superimposed on a magenta, impermeable background. Some of the dancers become transparent and disappear. Out of a sudden, we see a bright silhouette that soon snaps into focus: Betty wins her jitterbug contest in Deep River Ontario and emerges with the old couple at L.A. airport. This scene is of particular interest, because it is actually Diane of the second part who won this contest. Nevertheless, this scene takes place right before the woman descents into the pillow. Going with the dream interpretation – of all pieces, it is this one that firmly belongs to Diane's background and yet doesn't become a part of her dream, but precedes it. And of all pieces, it is this one that looks most unreal, and of all scenes, it is this one that does not produce Diane, but Betty. The jitterbug scene marks a stage before the protagonists step into the dream world of Hollywood. And precisely this phase of pre-entering the story seems vague and unreal. The reason for this pre-stage to be placed ahead of the entire film is that it applies to all protagonists alike. I see those dancers as souls in the underworld which is kept in magenta, somewhat similar to the blue box that forms its entrance. Before entering a body, those souls do not have a concept of life. They dance away without rhyme or reason. When a role needs to be cast, they get picked up by soul guides in shape of two elderly, which I will discuss in more detail immediately. This time it is Betty to be called into being, but it could as well have been Diane or anyone else standing in line.

ImageImage


The idea of reincarnation, and that is what it is probably called, is based on the assumption, that no soul is newly created or goes missing. Even if you do not subscribe to this admittedly daring interpretation of the opening scene, to my mind it is rather obvious, that there is only a limited number of 'dramatic persona' allowed to act on the story's surface. And if we further assume the Lynchian color blue to be a leitmotif, then Club Silencio, the box, the key and this odd opening scene are linked. In any case, the box seems to function as a gateway between acts.
"

full translation: http://vine.rottentomatoes.com/vine/sho ... p?t=513477
german original version: http://www.schmidtconsult.ch/archpub1/w ... 031207.pdf

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby Siku » 05 Apr 2014

Here's my thoughts, something I posted in an old old thread:

siku wrote:I'm fascinated by the colour Lynch uses for the background of the jitterbug scene. I've often seen this colour referred to as 'blue' and connections drawn with the blue box, blue key, blue van, blue luggage, blue dress, blue-haired lady, blue light, blue smoke, blue neon, blue electricity... blue screen, blue shift, blue velvet...

But it's not blue is it? It's purple.

And it's not a thing or an object it's PURE COLOUR. I'm quite satisfied that Lynch uses colours for their symbolic meanings (not solely). Purple is a mixture of blue and red. Purple represents magic, mystery, royalty. Red also has powerful symbolic resonances, blood, sex, violence, war, you know.

Purple is associated with Diane here while pink is associated with Betty - pink being what Alan Shaw characterises as girlish or immature sexuality.

Maybe purple represents a pre-oedipal, undifferentiated amalgamation of pink/red/blue. So in this I'm reading the jitterbug scene as a representsation of the infant Diane, pre-abuse, pre-self and therefore pre-self-loathing. Happy.


But, as blu pointed out, the closing credits list cast in order of appearance and the first listing is Betty, not Diane. So it's Betty we're watching in the jitterbug scene, not Diane!

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby outofthewoods » 06 Apr 2014

Siku wrote:But, as blu pointed out, the closing credits list cast in order of appearance and the first listing is Betty, not Diane. So it's Betty we're watching in the jitterbug scene, not Diane!

There is also the male voice cheering "Betty" as the jitterbug background fades into the bedroom POV shot.
But.. is Betty really who she is? Do we trust Louise's words? We should! B/c is Betty all what she seems? Doesn't Betty hold the box in her purse--the entire time--up until "Rita" takes her to CS? The box that is meant to be opened by so-called Rita's key? When Betty holds that box in both her hands, is she not holding onto the entire mystery regarding so-called Rita's identity and past? So wasn't the whole "Rita" thing a secret, being kept by "Betty"? Was Betty hiding that box in purse on purpose? That's the real question I'm asking myself... Since "Betty" consciously reaches into her purse to get the box--which means she knows that it's there and that it's time to hand it over to so-called Rita--does that mean "Betty" knew it the whole time? Has she been playing a "role" like an actress and fooling us all? Was she lying to us? Or was she, herself, blinded, and therefore the visit to Club Silencio is what makes her suddenly remember? Hmmm.....

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby Bob » 10 Jun 2014

But, as blu pointed out, the closing credits list cast in order of appearance and the first listing is Betty, not Diane. So it's Betty we're watching in the jitterbug scene, not Diane!


I fixed that part about Betty and Diane in the version we host in our theory section at http://www.mulholland-drive.net/theories/25.htm

It's hands down my favorite alternative interpretation of MD.

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby Coffee Cup » 29 May 2015

IMO, the Jitterbug contest did happen in reality. During the dinner scene at Adam's house, Diane mentions that she won a Jitterbug contest and it inspired her to pursue acting in Hollywood.

It's also of my opinion that the dinner scene at Adam's also happened in reality. However, the way we are seeing it is not the way it actually happened. But it did happen.

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby BlueRose » 12 Jun 2015

This feels like a rather simplistic question, given the depth of the ideas being discussed here, but could her grandfather have been her jitterbug partner? It would make sense, maybe he invited her to the contest since it was something more from his time to begin with?

What if she was actually a little girl at the time of the contest, and the reason "Betty" is listed as the character at the start is that it is secretly Diane as a child? Before the abuse?

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby Coffee Cup » 20 Jun 2015

I suppose that's possible but I don't see any real importance in identifying who her dance partner is.

Just to let you know, her Grandfather does actually play a small role in the film. If you read the original screenplay, Betty has a phone conversation with her Grandfather shortly before she gets on the phone with her Aunt Ruth in Canada. For whatever reason, that part of the movie was left out in the final cut. The fact that this phone conversation actually takes place in the original screenplay does give some solid credit to any MD theories that identify the older people in the film as her Grandparents. At the same time, the omission of that scene makes it a little more difficult to piece things together.

As to Diane being a child in the contest, I think that's entirely possible. I've always thought that the contest did actually take place in reality and that Diane was in it and possible the winner.

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby Siku » 22 Jun 2015

Coffee Cup wrote:If you read the original screenplay, Betty has a phone conversation with her Grandfather shortly before she gets on the phone with her Aunt Ruth in Canada. For whatever reason, that part of the movie was left out in the final cut. The fact that this phone conversation actually takes place in the original screenplay does give some solid credit to any MD theories that identify the older people in the film as her Grandparents. At the same time, the omission of that scene makes it a little more difficult to piece things together.


Here's the phone conversation from the screen play of the pilot:

BETTY
No Grandpa, you wouldn't believe it.
It's more beautiful than I ever
dreamed ... no she left me a lot of food.
The refrigerator's full ... Aunt Ruthie
said she'd call me when she got
settled... it was real smooth. I sat next
to a lady who gave up her first class
seat to a boy with a broken leg. She was
so nice to me. She invited me to her
house sometime. It's in Bel Air which is
a place where people have a lot of
money... I will. Everybody's telling me
to be careful, but I sure love it here
Grandpa. Thank you for helping me get
here ... yeah, it's long distance. I love
you. Say hello to Grams. Give her a big
kiss for me. Okay, I love you
Grandpa ... bye.

Clearly Grandpa was one of the many threads set up in the pilot that would have been explored in the series but weren't needed for the movie. But the existance of a Grandfather character is interesting in realtion to the old folks, because we know that he was there in Lynch's concept of Betty/Diane's background.

So why cut this conversation? Well if the old folks are the Grandparents, this conversation doesn't make sense - Betty refers to the lady she met on the plane (Irene) and 'Grams'. By cutting this phone call Lynch frees up the possibility for Irene+Companion to be dream versions of Diane's Grandparents.

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Re: Jitterbug contest

Postby Oldgoldtop » 25 Feb 2016

siku wrote: "But it's not blue is it? It's purple."

On my screen the color appears as magenta. RED + BLUE = MAGENTA.

Maybe it is my color settings!
"A man's attitude determines to a large extent how his life will be."


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