Mulholland Drive directed by David Lynch. Specifically it will discuss symbolism in the film, character development and conflict among the characters, some of the storytelling techniques used, and how lighting is used and how it affects the mood of the film. David Lynch has become famous in Hollywood for his unusual, even strange films, and Mulholland Drive is no exception. The film is extremely symbolic of Hollywood and the dreams that people carry inside them. The film symbolizes dreams, but also sin, death, love, and the need for fame that guides so many in Hollywood.
The film's symbolism is often buried in the way Lynch creates a film. The lighting, the twisted plots, and the dreamlike sequences all blend to create another world, and that leads to another symbol in the film -- Hollywood. The characters all want to succeed in Hollywood, because they want fame and fortune, which Hollywood represents, but Hollywood also represents greed, sex, and manipulation, as the characters learn. It is interesting that at the end of the film the women turn out not to have made it in Hollywood at all, they are in the lowliest of professions -- prostitution and waitressing -- which are not that unlike the things women in Hollywood must do to succeed in the film world. In addition, Lynch uses many other symbols in the film, such as the Man in the Chair who symbolizes God, Rita and Betty, who symbolize the age-old Hollywood formula of good girl/bad girl, the Director, who symbolizes the ultimate control of Hollywood and the film industry over a person's life.
Sin is also symbolized by the greed, lust, adultery and obsession that is layered throughout the film, and the color blue that crops up throughout the film in the lighting, and even the blue box at the end, symbolizes mystical powers and perhaps even living another life (reincarnation), like the two characters lead through most of the film. The symbolism is heavy in this movie, and some of it is hard to make sense of during the first viewing. However, Lynch is famous for using symbolism, strange characters, and convoluted plot lines to create real works of art, and Mulholland Drive certainly fits into this category.
Lynch develops the characters slowly and effectively, but sometimes it is hard to decide who is who and what is happening. Betty is a young girl from Canada who wants to be a Hollywood star, and she is innocent and naive from the beginning. She does not seem prepared for the realities of Hollywood, and yet she seems to be a good actress when she auditions for the strange director. Rita is developed more slowly because she does not know who she is, and neither does the audience. Both characters have chemistry that pulls them together, and they have a lesbian relationship after they have known each other for a while. This does not seem unusual because they seem to get along well, understand each other, and have developed a relationship as they try to find out about Rita's past.
As their other characters develop, (Diana and Camilla), the viewer gets a bigger picture of who the women really are, what their dreams are, and how their dreams have colored their reality. So, the character development is slow and even plodding, and sometimes does not make sense, but by the end of the film, the viewer has a good idea of who these characters really are and why they act the way they do. Diane/Rita is the dark-haired temptress who turns out to be a hooker and a waitress in various scenes, and Betty/Camilla is the blonde "good" girl who turns out to be a shady hooker in one brief scene, an actress, and a source of jealousy and betrayal for Diane, which is why she hires the hit man to murder her. That brings the audience around to the beginning of the film, where Rita survives the car crash and stumbles off to Betty's aunt's apartment, and so, the characters and the audience have both come full circle, which shows how strong the character development is and how central it is to the very core and meaning of the film.
The other characters in the film are not developed as deeply as Rita and Betty, and most of them do not need to be. However, some characters, like the Cowboy and Coco, serve a purpose in the film but still seem one-dimensional. The viewer may question why they are in the film at all, and so, they indicate that Lynch knows when to develop characters fully and when to leave them alone and let the audience make up their own reasons for their involvement and part in the film.
As for storytelling, Lynch excels at dark, film-noir type mysteries like this film. The plot has twists and turns that keep the viewer guessing, and there are stories within the stories and weird characters who pop up all the time. One film critic writes, "Mulholland Drive consists of stories within stories, movies being made within the movie we're watching. 'You know, films are a world within a world,' the director recently told Film Journal International" (Roberts 27). Much of the story seems like a dream, and in the end, the viewer finds out that it is indeed a dream. Betty and Diane are the same person, although they might not seem so, and so are Rita and Camilla, as the viewer discovers by the end of the movie. The story includes many different icons, like the blue box that keeps turning up and seems to contain the old couple from the airplane, who come out of the box and turn into demons in the end.
The story is odd and sometimes hard to follow, and at the end, it is kind of confusing and hard to figure out what just happened. However, the film's story does hold together throughout most of the film, and the plot is kind of like an old detective or mystery film that keeps the audience guessing and surprises them with twists and turns at the end. Lynch's plots all seem to be very complicated and hard to figure out, so Mulholland Drive is not surprising. Anyone who watched "Twin Peaks," Lynch's television show, would expect his films to be just as unusual and hard to decipher.
Lighting is probably one of the most important elements in this film, because it sets a mood, carries a theme, and creates the dreamlike quality of the majority of the movie, so the audience is not really sure what is happening and why. Blue seems to be David Lynch's favorite color and he uses it a lot in this film. There is the blue box, the blue key, the blue-haired woman in the club "Silencio," and the blue overtones that light many parts of the film. The dream sequence in the club is also filmed with heavy shadows and a blue overtone, adding to the mystery and general weirdness of the club. Three "Salon" Magazine writers note about the club, which is called "Silencio," "There, musicians and singers pretend to perform, but the music is all canned. Says the emcee: 'This is all a tape recording. It is an illusion'" (Wyman, Garrone, and Klein 2). The club itself is an illusion, and the heavy blue color of the lighting, adding to the shadows and the dark interior help show how Lynch understands the way to light his film as well as write and direct it.
Lighting is important from the bright light of the opening jitterbug scene to the ending. Sometimes Lynch uses harsh bright light to emphasize the action and to give the viewer a clear idea of what is happening. Often however, he uses shadows, dark and muted lighting, and colors like blue to emphasize a dreamy quality and to show that the ideas are hazy and so is the lighting. Many shots take place at night, and it is sometimes difficult to see just what is happening in Lynch's dark view of the film. For example, the lesbian scene is quite erotic, and Lynch uses very dim lighting to heighten the drama, the sex, and the symbolic sin of the two women. Darkness, shadow, and mystery are all symbols of "film-noir," a type of filmmaking very popular in early Hollywood. Lynch seems to use some of the same stark and startling lighting techniques that were popular then to create an idea of an earlier, simpler time that symbolizes the power and prestige of old Hollywood. Many items in the film symbolize the "new" Hollywood where power, control, greed, and corruption all seem to be as important as talent (at least in this film). The old-style lighting helps to create a mood that seems like 1930s Hollywood, and so do the characters, who often look like old-fashioned glamorous stars of the 30s and 40s. So, Lynch uses lighting to create a mood, too,…