Mulholland Drive (2001) by David Lynch

Surrealist Techniques (dream-like)

  • Troubled man discusses abnormal dreams with supposedly a therapist or friend. He describes that in the dream, he could see someone through a wall and that he never wants to see that face again.
  • This disturbed man re-enacts the experience he had in a dream and is startled when a beast-like creature jumps out in front of him. This occurs with a shift from suspenseful music to a rather, ghastly music. The man faints and falls backwards into his friend’s arms.
  • Naomi Watt’s character Betty is positioned in bright, optimistic colours (usually the sunlight).
  • The dark-haired women says in confusion as tears run down her cheeks, “I don’t know who I am! I don’t know my name.” She goes through her purse to find something that has her ID but instead finds a lot of cash, thousands of dollars.
  • A lot of camera movement evident in the film.
  • “That’s not my voice, but I know her.” – Dark haired woman.
  • The sequence of the scene and characters is a bit random and unorthodox.
  • After the sex-scene between Betty and the dark-haired woman, the woman repeatedly says “silencio. silencio”. After this scene, the interchange to the next scene is out-of-focus. The couple go to a magic-act late at night, and at the end of the act the man uses the word “silencio”. This implies of a connection between the woman without a name and something abstract and unusual.
  • During a musical act, the singer collapses from the mic however her voice is still being played through the speakers and she is still singing the song as she was before. The singer seemed to have fainted and needed two people to carry her off set.
  • The dark-haired girl opens a small blue box supposedly left behind by Betty whom she could not find. As she opens it the camera changes position and falls straight into the box in a dream-like motion. Indicating that the dark-haired girl had managed to be sucked through the little box.
  • Betty comes to the lounge room to find the dark-haired girl (Camilla?) topless lying upwards on the couch. Betty loses her top as well as the camera changes. This scene randomly ends.
  • Suddenly the dark-haired girl (Camilla) is an actress on-set.

German Expressionism (express emotions rather than external reality)

  • Eerie introductory music symbolising the potential of disaster to strike. This is comes along with the irritating noises of screeching tires from hooligans, drunk couples and emergency vehicles.
  • Cuts to shots of the troubled man’s facial expression drenched in sweat as he continues to panic. Re-enacting his dream with his friend or therapist.
  • Extreme close-up on dark-haired woman’s facial expression, done to reveal her trauma from the car accident. This occurs when her character comes in contact with Betty for the first time.
  • Talking to Mr Rock in a quiet room, talked through by microphone behind a glass wall. Room is empty, dark, surrounded by curtains and empty couches followed by a fade away camera shot that turns black before cutting to another scene.
  • A strange woman in a black hood is at the door of Naomi Watts’ character’s apartment, “Someone is in danger!”. “She said it was someone else who was in trouble…” This scene ends with the woman leaving and Betty being frozen in trauma with tension-building background music.
  • The weird character of the ‘Cowboy’, interrogates Adam about the meanings of attitude and the way in which it determines one’s life.
  • During the act of a woman singing after the magic-act, the camera cuts to a shot of the couple and both of their facial expressions. It reveals them comforting each other as tears run down their faces and their eyes go red.
  • Before they fell into the box, Betty was innocent. Now she has changed and is now a girl known as Diana who is not innocent. She is jealous of Camilla/Rita and verbally violent.

Film Noir (detective/dark)

  • In the opening credits of the film, I gather a sense of Film Noir as whilst the credits are running; there is very dark lighting as a car drives along an empty road. This is accompanied by gloomy atmospheric music played in the background.
  • “Get out of the car” – Start of the film. Shows a man pointing a gun directly towards a beautiful women. Femme fatale?
  • Limited variation of colour. This includes the costume design of characters and extras present on-set (much more variation once the female character played by Naomi Watts arrives to Hollywood).
  • “Talk to me” – Very brief discussion over a phone line between two men. Their faces are not revealed as the camera focuses on the old-fashioned phones.
  • A lot of tension is present in the scene where a three groups of men gather together to discuss an actress known as ‘Camilla Rhodes’.
  • Criminal act of a man smashing the windshield of another man’s car with a golf club in fury. The same man who claimed that, “This girl is not in my movie!”. He is supposedly a Director working in Hollywood.
  • Two men are talking in an office until one assassinates the other with a silenced pistol. The killer ends up having to kill two witnesses; an assistant and a cleaner.
  • Hollywood Director, Adam’s wife, is having an affair with another man. The Director seeks revenge and decides to smother her expensive jewelry collection with pink paint.
  • Adam drives out to meet ‘The Cowboy’, in the darkness of the night with very little light of his surroundings or even the road itself. The door light flickers. “That lead girl is not up to you…You will see me one more time if you do good, and you will see me two more times if you do bad… Goodnight” – The Cowboy.
  • The lady at Apartment 17 and Apartment 12 swapped rooms. “She hasn’t been here for a couple of days”, says the woman from Apartment 17.  Betty and the dark-haired girl break into the apartment which is completely dark. The dark-haired girl goes into panic and nausea. This is shown as the camera movement shakes drastically creating that dizzy-like visual effect, with no sound whatsoever.

Realist Techniques (showing the ‘truth’)

  • Camera shot over the shoulder when two men are talking face to face at a typical American coffee shop.
  • Set in a realistic Hollywood, California. Evidently shown as a high shot is taken of the iconic Hollywood sign.
  • Limited variation of colour. This includes the costume design of characters and extras present on-set (much more variation once the female character played by Naomi Watts arrives to Hollywood).
  • Bird’s Eye camera angle used that goes across the entire city and its busy streets.

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