I was not going to write a post on David Lynch's movie Mulholland Drive (2001), but could not help it, really. The reason being while studying the history of cinematography, I came across an interpretation of the movie by some Russian guy called 'Roman' - his YOUTUBE name - who thinks he has finally nailed it. Roman's explanations and parallels, though intriguing and even sex-charged, as based on Sigmund Freud theories, are just one of many guesses and views of what the Mulholland Drive (2001) can be about. Roman, as many others before him, tried to bring sense to the senseless happenings in the movie and bring it all to some sort of comprehension.
However, the labours of anyone who attempts to find sense in the movie are futile for one but very important reason - there is no meaning in the movie, and never was intended to be. What can prompt a no meaning result of creative input? Here is what:
The Mulholland Drive was originally conceived as a pilot for TV series on ABC channel but was rejected by TV executives. Pilots for TV series are normally done to assess if the series will be produced or not. As such, pilots are just openings to a story that will be developed over several seasons and told through many characters, details, conflicts and parallel stories. As Lynch himself noted: ‘I'm a sucker for a continuing story ... Theoretically, you can get a very deep story and you can go so deep and open the world so beautifully, but it takes time to do that’. But the time is what he was not granted.
Having ended up with the 90-minute pilot but without being able to develop it into a full story, David Lynch on the advice of his friend from Paris, Pierre Edleman, turns it into the feature movie instead, as Canal+ offers to buy it as a feature.
So, he adds 18 pages introducing the romantic lesbian relationship between Betty and Rita, leaves the end open, adds some mystic elements and volia! The flop was turned into seeming success but with one annoying flaw - there was no meaning in the story just patched unfinished pieces. For that reason, Lynch refuses to explain even to actors what the intention of the movie is, leaving them guessing and creating their own theories as they act. The same - with audiences.
But the answer is simple, and I guess David Lynch knows it well, there is no meaning just an ambition that turned sour yet later presented as one of the greatest movies of the 21st century, never mind that no one can find tails or heads of it.
By concealing the absence of meaning of his feature, Lynch placed a winning bet - let everyone rack their brains what the movie is about. Let them have a go at creating a story out of the creative foggy mess. The trick worked.
And finally, some food for thought. By the time David Lynch created the infamous pilot for the TV series, he had already been famous with his series Twin Peaks (1990). It’s hard to be rejected when you already believe you are the cinematographic star, ‘n’est pas, mon ami?’, as Agatha Christie’s Poirot would say.