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Naomi Watts

– Balaji Thangapandian | BT  | Film Theorist

Every independent filmmaker I have ever known, have invariably attempted in drawing parallels between illusion and reality. In the process, they have enormously succeeded. Auteur David Lynch and his film(s), especially, ‘Mulholland Drive’ are no exceptions.

It would be crime to interpret the plot ( if it has any).The film in its entirety is serpentine or surrealistic. From the environment, actors, properties, costumes, cinematography, editing, sound, in essence, the prerequisites needed to make this film is deliberately used in a fashion, to leave its viewers perplexed or use their intuition to comprehend. Nevertheless, it is engrossingly made.

David Lynch, makes the viewers believe that, almost throughout the film, something really is happening. Only at the end, do we realise that, what has happened so far, is a manifestation of someone’s fear, aspirations or dreams, and not the reality or at least, that’s how I interpreted.

Following is the experience I had, when I watched ‘ Mulholland Dr.’ (2001):

The moment, the film started, i realised, it was not a typical film, as someone was lying on the bed, then it jumped to people doing retro dance, perhaps, it represented 50s, and ended with silhouette of a middle aged woman, matured man and woman, cheering to spectators’ ovation. A brunette was headed to Mulholland drive in a limousine, with guards. Limo stopped, and a guard pulled the trigger on the brunette. Hotrods madly hit the limo, surprisingly, the brunette sustained minor injuries, and staggered down the hill to a city.

The brunette noticed someone leaving an apartment and sneaked in and hid. A blonde, ‘Betty’ (Naomi Watts) arrived at the same apartment, claimed to be niece of the owner (her aunt). She found the brunette in the house, then brunette identified herself as ‘ Rita’ (Laura Harring). Soon, Betty realised that Rita was a liar. Rita admitted that she lost her memory, probably because of an accident, happened the previous night.

Betty agreed to help Rita in finding her identity. They found Rita’s original name as ‘Diane Selwyn’ and a telephone number and an address associated with it. They visited the address and found a decaying corpse. Both were perplexed, and fled the murder scene. Shortly after, they grew affection for each other and indulged in lesbian acts. The film was linear until this point, then it took unconventional approach.

Betty woke up and realised that she stayed in the room, where the corpse was found by her and Rita/Diane Selwyn. Betty dreamt the whole thing. In reality, Betty was Diane Selwyn, and Rita was a famous Hollywood celebrity, Camilla Rhodes. Camilla helped Diane in realising her Hollywood aspirations, and grew affection for each other. Diane couldn’t accept Camilla with other men and women. She became furious, insane, warned Camilla. Things didn’t happen the way she wanted. Eventually, she killed herself. Wait, it was not over, the film jumped to a midnight – dark orchestra (Betty and Rita had been and frightened earlier), and zoomed in to a weird woman or corpse, which culminated the impression that, the entire film was the dream of that woman/corpse.

This is how I interpreted ‘ Mulholland Dr.’, and, the interpretation is neither valid nor wrong as the director David Lynch said the film was an abstraction and open for interpretation.

I’d appreciate if you watch this interview of David Lynch, talking of the film, and why he made it. It is worthwhile.

The column is about: David Lynch, Mulholland Drive, Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Abstract filmmaking, Balaji Thangapandian, BT, film theorist


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