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Thread: Mulholland Dr. Double Dreams in Hollywood - (timtak)

Two dreams of a third person

A number of reviewers have supposed that the first part of the film is Diane's romanticized, idealistic dream and the last half portrays the seedy reality. I believe the second part is another dream. There is (almost) no reality to which the film returns. The film is made up of two interwoven dreams, each of which present a different interpretation of the only event that we know is for real - someone has died and it is probably a suicide.

  1. This interpretation is suggested first of all by the scene with Dan and his psychoanalyst in the diner. He has had two dreams both of which lead him to the same place, both of which foresee his own death. It is tempting to see this isolated scene as a précis of the film as a whole. What we have here is a man awake, briefly, attempting to interpret two frightening dreams in front of an audience (his shrink) only to find that his two dreams were prophetic to face his own death at the point of realization. The only connection with this scene with the rest of the film is that Diane sees Dan in that Diner at the cash register. This otherwise unconnected snippet is, I believe a hint, provided by the Director to the interpretation of the rest of the film - which bears the same structure: A woman awakes briefly and sees two dreams (perhaps as she dies a la American Beauty), which prophesy her own death, at which point in reality she sees the face. This face can perhaps be interpreted as a glimpse of true reality, the real that lies behind all the facades and diner walls in the film. 

  2. The nightclub scene, like the Dan in the diner, is another of the more analytical scenes giving a clue to what is going on. The nightclub MC explains that the show has all been recorded and then we are shown two demonstrations of this fact. A trumpeter comes on an plays a few notes but then falls (or is pushed?) over while the notes, from we now find was a tape recording, continue playing. A woman comes on and sings a Roy Orbinson song in Spanish, with great emotion and it really looks as if she is singing the song. But when two people come on and drag her off stage we find that she two has only been miming. As the MC has explained, the action has all happened before, what we are seeing is an apparent (but illusory) coherence between to streams of unreal events - a tape recording and people miming. Rita and Betty, who are watching burst into tears. They have reason to; the nightclub is explaining who they are, and what is going on in the film.

  3. Thirdly, and this evidence will only be persuasive to those that admire David Lynch, the presumption that the second half of the film expresses "the reality of the situation" assumes a reality which is Hollywoodishly melodramatic and contrived. Like Betty's success in the first part of the film it is all too Tinsel Town and about as believable. What is some woman in a run down apartment in Hollywood doing having an affair with a movie star, that is about to get married to a famous director? Where does she get the money to pay for a hit man? How would she even get to know such a cold, calculating gun-swinger? In his earlier films such as Blue Velvet and Eraserhead David Lynch is described as being the master of demonstrating the macabre of the mundane. Why would he resort to a reality thick with hit men, limousines and failed love affairs with film celebrities?

  4. In that little piece of reality that we are shown in this film - the sordid flat and the death, possibly by suicide - there is enough to provide material for two dreams. First of all we are told that Diane used to live in the flat 12. We see the anonymous next-door neighbour, one of only two characters in the film that maintains her identity. She is a rather dikey looking woman in both the first and the second half of the film. In the first half she says that Diane used to live with her and that she wants to pick up her things. In the second half she wakes up Diane to pick up her things. The irritable way that she behaves in both these brief scenes is plausibly like the way that one would expect an ex-lover to behave. It is clear that the two females, Diane and this woman from number 12, used to live together so this draws into question the existence of Diane's other lover - Camilla/Rita. We are told that she picks up her stuff that Diane had from the time when they used to live together, thus suggesting their final separation. It is also quite possible that the girl from number 12 leaves behind the blue key that we see on Diane's coffee table - an event which would also signify the death or estrangement of her as a lover.

  5. And moreover there is a parallelism between Diane/Betty and Rita/Camilla that suggests that they are parts of one and the same person. We see that both Rita and Diane pick up a name in a diner. Rita sees the name "Diane" and thinks perhaps that her real name is Diane. Diane sees the name Betty, which is the name she is given in the first dream sequence. Both Rita and Diane have a lot of money in their purse and we are given no explanation of how it got there. Both Rita and Diane take, or are about to take, a bullet to the head. Camilla's death, signified by the key on Diane's coffee table, precipitates Diane's suicide. So it is clear that like Rita's fall into the blue box, the key in the second half of the film is what plunges Diane into permanent darkness. I think that Rita's demise is Diane's demise because they are the same person.
    The first half of the film ends with Rita finding a blue box in Betty's purse which fits the blue key that she has in her own purse. Betty is mysteriously absent. Rita opens the box, and with the box falls into 20 seconds of blackness. There are a number of reasons why this does not fit in with the "standard interpretation" of the film. If we are in Diane/Betty's dream then why is it that Rita wakes up out of it when it would be more plausible the other way around. It is clear that the dreamer is at least for this part of the dream, identifying with the Rita character. This is certainly a dream, but perhaps it is more plausible to suggest that this is not Diane/Betty's dream at all but a dream experienced by Rita.

By the end of the film two sides of the dreamers personality have fallen back into the chaos that preceded them. And the one certain reality of the film is that a self-loathing woman, (and with long hair it would seem from her corpse) comes face to face with her reality, the black face and death.

This assumption throws light on the reason why so many people have to die when the hit man kills his "brother" in the first half of the film. In an apparently comic interlude, a hit man kills a man with long hair, who has apparently survived the car crash (like Rita) and then kills an overweight woman in the next office after a stray bullet passes through the wall. He is then forced to kill a third person, the cleaner before shooting up his vacuum cleaner. What was the necessity of killing two extra victims when he only wanted the book of secrets held by the first? I suggest that the triple homicide mirrors the way in which the only real event of the film, the suicide of a woman in an apartment, causes the death of her in her reality (and of indeterminate age - we presume that she has won a jitterbug contest so she is likely to be older than either Diane/Betty or Rita/Camilla), and the death of her two (alter-) egos.

If both the lead females of "Mulholland Dr." are, in both of their roles, fantasies then "the real dreamer" is elsewhere. It is probably unfair and neurotic even look for her but I think that she may be a much older woman, possibly rather similar to
1) The lady on the balcony in the nightclub scene.
2) The psychic that came to Betty/Rita's flat in the first part.

Further evidence for this is that we are told that Diane came to Hollywood after having won a jitterbug contest. Unless she was really retro then that would mean that she was in her teens: in the 50's and about 60 years of at the time of the action of the film (there are various reasons why it is clear the film is set in the present, e.g. the director's car). This explains to me why the director in the film is directing a 50's style film.

I think that this makes the film all the more macabre. Even the Diane at the end of the film is still a lot younger, a lot more chipper than the reality of the corpse and the black face that is felt at the end of the film. In reality, it is only this black face, that was there from the beginning. I have no idea what is going on with that cowboy but I think that the "you will see me twice" has something to do with the double
dream structure that I am proposing for this film."

The Bum as a Clue to there being no reality

Dan says he hopes to never see that face outside of a dream. Dan (whoever he is intended to represent) only sees the figure behind Winkies in a dream. The next time we see the figure behind Winkies is in the second segment. If we suppose and I believe it to be correct that the figure behind Winkies only exists in a dream then in each segment that the figure appears is within the context of a dream.
If we accept that there is no partition or explicit "real" event that breaks up the first sequence from the second sequence then what we are left with is a complete dream. It is either a dream within a dream or an interuppted dream in which there is brief period of lucidity before Diane, the Sleeper, falls back asleep and her dream continues but as a nightmare. In this regard we do not even have to take the events of the dream as having any basis in reality, and can accept that maybe it is only the minds attempt to reconcile troubles in the Sleepers life. - (Erskine)