A Multi-Layered Analysis of Mulholland Dr. (by Alan Shaw)
A SCENE BY SCENE ANALYSIS
The first scene opens with the Jitterbug dance sequence. The dance sequence is a mixture of images that are full of energy and that have a powerful impact. We are clearly supposed to be impressed with the quality of the dancing, and so when it ends with Diane being the winner, we can imagine how much she felt like a star at one point in her life. Some have argued that it is not likely to have been a scene from reality because we don't see her dance partner, but I think that couldn't be farther from the truth. She's remembering what was important to her from that time of her life, and her dance partner wasn't very important to her. What was important is that she beat all of those other great dancers, and that her grandmother and grandfather were there to celebrate the occasion with her. In fact, it is extremely important to her that they seem to be proud and happy for her, because as we find out at the end of the movie, she is incredibly afraid of them. But she is not afraid of them during this happy moment of her life. Everything is perfect. Her face is shown shining in the lights. We can see in her eyes that at this point she believes in herself, and she believes that her star can shine even outside of Deep River, Ontario. However, it is important to note that all of the images of her grandparents that show up in this scene quickly get fuzzy and unsteady. And I believe this suggests that there is something unclear and unstable about her relationship to them that keeps getting in the way of this perfect picture.
As these images fade out, we see a fuzzy scene and hear what seems to be a person--who we later find out is Diane--deeply inhaling from some device like a drug pipe or a bong. After the inhalation the scene gets clearer and we see that we are looking from her point of view while she is on a bed. Her bed sheets are red, and as we continue to hear her breathing in and out, we see that she is moving her body further onto the bed and placing her head on a pillow. Then the scene fades to black as the dream/fantasy begins.
Even if a viewer cannot be expected to understand what is happening initially, the vibrant energy of the Jitterbug sequence is contrasted effectively with whatever is happening on the bed. So it is hard for the viewer not to feel that something is wrong as this scene ends, as Lynch obviously intends. Some reviewers believe that the Diane has just shot herself in this scene and she is dying. I think that is wrong. There is no blood and when she does shoot herself at the end of the movie things progress much faster and her eyes never face the pillow. At this beginning point in the film, I believe that it is important that Diane is still trying to cope with what has happened in her life. In fact, I believe that the fantasy world that she creates is a powerful coping mechanism.
(Note: For those who are not convinced that the initial sound is somebody breathing in from a pipe or a bong, it is interesting to note that later in the fantasy portion of the film a bong appears to be in Aunt Ruth's living room. This is significant because Diane did not come to LA until after her aunt's death, so her vision of what would be in Aunt Ruth's home is coming from Diane's imagination. If there is a bong in Aunt Ruth's living room, it is there because it is something to which Diane had a connection. The first time we can see the bong is when Betty first enters Aunt Ruth's home with Coco. As she looks to the shelves on the opposite wall, you can see what appears to be a bong on the set of shelves to the right, on the third shelf down, in a corner in a shadow right beside a fancy magnifying glass. The next time we see it is right after Betty has been sitting on the couch speaking on the phone with her aunt and she has just learned that her aunt does not know anything about Rita. From Betty's point of view the camera leaves the couch and then passes by the shelves much closer than the first time. Now you can see the magnifying glass very clearly with the bong in the corner right next to it still in the shadows. It is near some pink flowers, a fact which I believe is an indication that the bong belongs to Diane due to her pink persona as discussed above. Although I do believe the object to be a bong, I will grant that there may be other meaningful interpretations.
This scene opens with a shot of a street sign for Mulholland Drive late at night. There is eerie music playing in the background and lights are reflecting off of the sign in a jittery fashion. The mood established is a haunting one as the fantasy begins. We see the blue lights of the city from above, establishing that Mulholland Drive goes up a hill. Next we see that a limousine is moving up Mulholland Drive and there is a woman sitting in the back. We don't know her name or anything else about her, but after the fantasy is over we find out that she is the real Camilla Rhodes. At some point the limousine pulls over and stops and the woman says, "What are you doing? We don't stop here." We see some drag racers coming down the street some ways up ahead. The driver turns around, pulls a gun on the woman and tells her to get out of the car. A third person who was sitting with the driver gets out, opens her door and then reaches in to pull her out. Just then, one of the cars that was drag racing slams right into the limousine creating a devastating accident. Blue smoke slowly covers the whole scene. And then, with only minor injuries, the woman steps out of the car, apparently the only survivor. She looks around, and then begins walking down the hill toward the city below, no longer knowing who she is.
It doesn't become clear what this accident in the fantasy signifies until later when we see that in the real world, Diane Selwyn was the one in the limousine. We know that this is an altered version of the trip that she took because of the words that came out of her mouth during her late night drive. Diane also said, "What are you doing? We don't stop here." But no one pulled a gun on Diane, and no car accident occurred. So why has she changed events in this way during her fantasy? One reason is that what happened after Diane's trip up Mulholland Drive was as traumatic as a car crash. And certainly she felt like she ran into a lot of threatening figures that night. But why does Diane replace herself with Camilla in this part of the fantasy? Although there is more to it than this, I believe that the reason involves the idea that the part of Diane that wants to be like Camilla went up Mulholland Drive that night. In other words, part of Diane was fixated on Camilla and would do just about anything to make it the way Camilla has made it. And if that is not possible, then this part of Diane at least wants to be a part of Camilla's life as she becomes a star. This is the part of Diane that is the Camilla persona. And from Diane's point of view, the party on Mulholland Drive involved an assassination attempt against this persona. It was as if those who invited her to the party wanted to kill off Diane's hopes of ever getting back together with Camilla. And, without Camilla, all of her Hollywood hopes and dreams were threatened. A parallel issue that is represented by this scene is the fact that Camilla has been murdered, and Diane is having trouble coping with that truth. Even as she is protecting her own Camilla persona, she is repressing the memory of the fate of Camilla Rhodes from her real life.
Because of the complexity of the issues involved in this film, I will examine certain issues not found in this scene to establish the context needed to understand why it is important to view the characters as Diane's personas. I mentioned earlier that the structure of the fantasy parallels the Wizard of Oz, particularly at the beginning and the end of her fantasy. But in the Wizard of Oz Dorothy continues to use her real name and she remains the central character throughout her fantasy. Yet in Diane's fantasy, there is only one place that a character with Diane's name shows up in the fantasy. And that Diane Selwyn is a dead person, lying on the same bed where she is sleeping while this fantasy is going through her mind. This is one reason why some reviewers believed Diane had shot herself prior to the fantasy and that she was dying during the fantasy. As I said before, I don't agree. This is not a dream of someone whose mind is blacking out and shutting down. In fact, this is quite a vibrant and active mind at work. But one thing is clear because of the nature of Diane's sole reference to herself in her fantasy. Diane is contemplating her death and maybe even becoming suicidal. In fact, it becomes clearer as we start to unravel the state of her psyche, that if Diane is not able to resolve the struggle that is going on inside of her, she just might "Shut everything down." That is a phrase used in the fantasy that is probably a metaphor for suicide, and it is a real issue that is being contemplated in the subtext of Diane's fantasy.
Diane does not want to be Diane anymore. She has had a bad self-image since her childhood trauma, but it is now becoming impossible to live with herself because of what she has recently done. As one of the characters in her fantasy, Robert Smith, tells her Adam persona, "You're in the process of re-casting your lead actress." A person might think that he was referring to re-casting Camilla's role in Adam's latest movie, because we just saw Camilla in the car crash and they don't know where she is. But Robert Smith gives us a double clue explaining why that is not the issue to which he is referring. When Adam asks him what he is talking about, he says, "An open mind." And then to make it a double clue, he says again, "We're asking you to keep an open mind." Diane's mind is the one that is open, and she is trying to replace herself as the lead actress in the movie of her life. Furthermore, the company that is responsible for this movie that Diane's Adam persona is directing is called Ryan Entertainment. As I mentioned earlier, I believe Ryan is short for "rhymes with Diane." So this is a Hollywood production managed by the mind of Diane, and Adam is the one she has chosen to be the persona who is her director.
Some reviewers have suggested that the Camilla persona suffers through the bruising experience in the car accident because Diane is dreaming about how to repay her for the pain she caused Diane in real life. But nothing could be further from the truth. Camilla has played an important part of Diane's self-image in the past, and so she has been brought into this production of Diane's mind to play an important role. Camilla represented the sensual and glamorous side that Diane hoped to foster in herself, Diane's more red than pink image of herself. Camilla had the glamour and sexual presence that Diane envied, and the fact that Diane and Camilla were in a relationship gave Diane hope that she could one day embody that as well.
But Diane's life is a little bit more complicated than the role that the one-dimensional Camilla could play. She chooses a whole cast of characters to play her various personas. It is important to note that she has chosen Betty to play her central persona, even more central than Rita, who is her other key persona. Apparently, Betty represents the pink and innocent part of her life, the kind of innocence that Dorothy represented in the Wizard of Oz. I believe Betty represents this to her because the real Betty worked at Winkie's, a place that is not associated with the sins of Hollywood, and a place at which Diane herself probably worked before she entered the call girl business. But no matter what the reason she chose her, it is revealing that the innocence of her Betty persona still plays such a key role in her psyche, even after all that has happened in her life. Adam, on the other hand, is all about Hollywood. She is entrusting him to direct everything because Hollywood is still at the center of her dreams. We already mentioned that the Cowboy is the part of her that is trying to be smart, Mr. Roque is the part of her that is very unyielding, and the Castigliane brothers are the side of her that try to be tough. These three are also Hollywood insiders, and as we will see soon, they probably also embody aspects of her abusive father figure that she has internalized. Coco is another Hollywood insider, but she embodies more of her mother figure's qualities, flawed, but protective and sophisticated. Diane also has a persona that is full of fear, one that is whorish, and of course, she has one that has the capacity to kill. And there are a couple more, as we shall see as we go through the different scenes.
Diane's Camilla persona will later adopt the name Rita. The accident that Rita experienced is a metaphor for how Diane felt that night she took her ride up Mulholland Drive. She felt like it was a setup, and although she survived it, she left battered and confused. Rita leaves the accident in this same state and makes her way to the home of Diane's aunt, who in the fantasy is Betty's aunt. The state of crisis and the danger that the real Diane is in can be seen in Rita's expression as headlights shine into her face. And then a police car drives by emphasizing that this is an emergency. Outside of Aunt Ruth's complex, Rita hides in the bushes and falls asleep. Rita will fall asleep three times in these early scenes hinting at the sleeping state of the real Diane while at the same time showing an image of the dead state of the real Camilla.
As Rita sleeps this first time, the police arrive at the scene of the accident and they seem sadly struck by all of the death and destruction they find. They also find a pearl earring that they know does not belong to any of the bodies at the scene. "Could be someone's missing, maybe," one says. "That's what I'm thinking," the other replies. Sure enough, an earring did come off of Rita's left ear during the accident and I discuss the significance of this above when discussing the assassination references, but the most important character missing at this point in the fantasy is Diane herself. It is the fact that she is missing and the need to find her that becomes a background motivation for some of the main characters.
Once Rita awakens, we see her sneak into Aunt Ruth's home literally right under her nose. This fact introduces us to yet another background motivation of Diane. Searching for Aunt Ruth is a quest that Diane has been on since before she came to Hollywood. In fact, it probably started in earnest as things in her family fell apart after the abuse she went through. Aunt Ruth is her only notion of family anymore, as the picture of Aunt Ruth with Diane as she was a child in her fantasy seems to attest. Yet, as we will see repeatedly, the Aunt Ruth of Diane's dreams never connects with Diane's various personas, as though she is just out of reach. And this represents a tragic truth that she cannot escape, that Aunt Ruth died before Diane made it to Hollywood. And without Aunt Ruth, Diane has been afraid and alone, unable to find the right path on her own. When we begin to understand the weight of this issue in Diane's life, we begin to understand what Lynch's darker version the Wizard of Oz is all about. Dorothy realized the lesson in time to reconnect with her Aunt, but Diane did not. You cannot run from your problems and find a promised land "somewhere over the rainbow." Your problems will just follow you. In the subtext of Lynch's film, we learn that almost from the beginning of Diane's quest, her dream was becoming a nightmare.
This scene begins with the sound of a siren outside of a Winkie's diner. Even though the siren is an indication that something is wrong, when we go into the diner we see two men sitting peacefully and talking. Dan is talking to Herb, telling him that he wanted to come to that particular Winkie's for a reason. Herb appears to be a therapist and he listens as Dan talks about a dream he has had two times that involved that particular Winkie's. The dream occurs during something Dan calls half-night, the transition point between night and day. In his dream, the lighting is weird and Dan notices Herb by the cash register. He says Herb is scared in the dream and that scares Dan as well. Then Dan realizes that there is a man behind the Winkie's with a horrible face who is controlling whatever is going on in the Winkie's. Dan is terrified of ever seeing that man's face outside of his dream. Once Dan has finished recounting his dream, Herb decides they should go outside and look behind the Winkie's to see if there is anybody out there, because he thinks this will help Dan. Dan says he is willing to go look because he wants to get rid of the "God-awful" feeling he has. However, when they go behind the Winkie's and come to a walled area, a horrible face looks out at them from behind the wall and Dan is literally scared to death.
This is an example of a dream within a dream, just as we later deal with "The Sylvia North Story" as a movie within a movie. Both the embedded dream and the embedded movie give us important clues in the form of metaphors about the life of Diane. What is happening in this scene doesn't become clear until after the fantasy has ended and Diane's flashbacks have revealed to us the relevant information. Diane was sitting in that same diner when she paid the hit man to have Camilla killed. The hit man showed her a blue key that he said would be at a place he had previously told her about when he had finished the job. As soon as he shows her the key, she notices the man she calls Dan in her fantasy, looking at her. Although this man probably did not know what they were talking about, she remembers him because he too saw the key. He therefore becomes connected to her fixation on the key. And, as the hit man told her, Diane was going to have to go and get the key to find out if Camilla was dead. So the key becomes associated with the point of no return for Diane. Once she has retrieved the key, the horror of what she has done will finally become clear to her. And the man she calls Dan in her fantasy witnessed the moment she first came in contact with the key.
Dan's name sounds very much like Diane, so it should be clear that he is one of her personas. It also should be clear that he is the part of her that is terrified of confronting the truth of what she has done. And where does that truth get confronted? At the place where she will find the blue key when Camilla has been killed. So when Diane's Dan persona has a "God-awful" feeling about going behind Winkie's and seeing that horrible face, we can surmise that that is where Diane had to go to find the key. We can also assume that the horrible face is the face of Diane's own guilt. Somehow a dirty and disgusting part of Diane drove her to have Camilla killed, and the day she went to get that fateful key, something died inside of her as she realized that something awful within her had won out. That the beast behind the diner is something within Diane is borne out at the end of the film when we see the beast's face fade into Diane's face after she has killed herself. This beast within her has probably tormented Diane for awhile before she finally gave in to it. Diane probably struggled with the terrible feelings she was experiencing with her therapist, who is probably the man Dan is talking to in the dream. However, the therapist was not able to help her, perhaps because he didn't believe her issues were as drastic as they had become.
This scene has an important relationship to the scene right before it. Earlier we found out that Diane does not want to be Diane anymore. Now we know one reason why. The next scene reveals to us yet another reason. Even before we get to that scene, it is worth pointing out that Diane's subconscious is sending warning signs and important messages to herself even during this fantasy in an attempt to save herself. We can see one example of that when Dan noticed an arrow pointing in the other direction as he was walking to the back of the Winkie's. If he had turned and followed the arrow maybe Diane's death could have ultimately been avoided. Another thing that caught Dan's attention as he walked towards his darkest fear was a telephone. The reason that the phone caught his attention comes to light in the next scene.
In this scene we see Mr. Roque calling someone in the lobby of a fancy hotel and he says, "The girl is still missing." The person in the fancy hotel calls someone else in what looks like a very beat up looking apartment kitchen. The person who answers says, "Talk to me." And the person who made the call says, "The same." Then the person in the beat up apartment hangs up and makes another call. His call goes through to a phone on a wooden telephone and lamp stand. The phone is next to a lamp with a red lampshade and an ashtray full of dead cigarette butts. The phone rings three times, and then the scene ends.
In an earlier discussion, I talked about how the call girl operation that Diane was involved in probably worked. We learn these details from this scene. A call would be made by a client, also known as a John, to a middleman in a fancy hotel. The John would arrange to rent a room from the middleman in most cases and have a call girl sent to that room. But the John might also have the call girl sent somewhere else. The John would explain what type of call girl he wanted and then the middleman at the hotel would call a pimp to have him send over someone who fit the bill. The John would then never have to deal with people like the pimp. Call girl pimps would not have their girls on the street. Instead they would just need the phone numbers of the call girls, allowing the call girls to hide their involvement in prostitution from the rest of the world. Call girls can live a double life, as can their Johns. Because it was Diane's phone that rang at the end of the chain of calls, we learn that she is a call girl living a double life.
In the chain of calls, Mr. Roque is Diane's John this time around. In the logic of the dream, Rita, Diane's sensual persona, was in a limousine heading somewhere. She never makes it there and goes into hiding. However, Mr. Roque was expecting her, as if her limousine was headed to a liaison with him. We find out later that Mr. Roque is working with others who are trying to replace Camilla Rhodes with a blonde haired woman, and we shall discuss this more below. But this fact means that Mr. Roque was most likely involved in the assassination attempt against Rita, and is now trying to find out what happened to her.
In Diane's fantasy, Mr. Roque represents a type of power in the movie making business, and Diane's Rita persona was heading to a liaison with him. This hints at the fact that Diane probably saw her attempt to make it in Hollywood in much the same terms as she saw her call girl activity. She had to be willing to promote the sexual side of herself to make it, and the Rita/Camilla persona helped her do this. In fact, we see her do this again during her audition with Jimmy "Woody" Katz. We will look at that audition very closely because the dialogue and the context indicates that this willingness to perform sexually for men is related to her childhood abuse from a father figure. Therefore, by being one of her Johns, Mr. Roque is associated with her father figure. And this tells us that the father figure was probably an unyielding, dark Tinman-like personality that we see in Mr. Roque. Later, we find out that both the Cowboy and one of the Castigliane brothers is also connected to her sexual abuse, so they give us further insights into her abuser's character. However, in her fantasy world, she is no longer willing to do tricks for the likes of Mr. Roque. In fact, in her Camilla persona she hides from them, in her Adam persona she fights them as best she can, and the sleeping Diane will not answer the phone when they call.
Another important thing about this scene is that it gives us insights into the nature of the third character in the phone chain. He is the one in the grungy, beat up apartment or kitchen who knows Diane's number. In the film's credits he is called "Hairy-Armed Man." We never see his face, so we don't know who he is, but we do learn something about him. We see that even though the place where he is located is not being taken care of very well, he has a phone that is very important to him. In fact, the round neon light that is shining on his phone encourages us to think that the phone is the most important thing in that room, as it would be for a pimp in his profession. This makes this character very similar to another character who shows up later in the film. Like that other character who I will discuss later, Hairy-Armed Man must have access to a lot of phone numbers because he has to have a direct line to all of the call girls. This issue will provide us with an important revelation later in the film.
This is not the only thing that we learn about the Hairy-Armed Man. We also see that the place he is in is similar to the apartment Adam rented from Cookie at the Park Hotel, because of its run down state. When Adam shows up at the Park Hotel, it is difficult to understand why a man of his prominence would choose such a seedy hotel when he still thought he had access to all of his money. However, the logic of the dream suggests that this was where Diane ended up at one point in her life. And when the Hairy-Armed Man calls Diane, he doesn't use a normal phone number. It seems more like a number that connects him to an extension within the same building. This is very telling because we know the Hairy-Armed Man is calling Diane. However, rather than calling her at her current location at 2590 Sierra Bonita, he seems to be calling her at a place where she lived at some time in the past, at some place like the Park Hotel where perhaps she first became involved in the call girl business. In her dream, we see many elements of her past and her present merge together and by decoding which is which, we begin to understand her state of mind better. So the phone chain makes an important connection between where she was and what she is doing now. Yet, as the Hairy-Armed Man dials her number and the call causes her present day phone to ring, the scene ends with Diane apparently being no longer available to answer that call.
As this scene begins the mood shifts to a lighter and more upbeat note. In the scenes before this we saw the promise of Diane's Jitterbug contest lost to a spirit of despair. Then in the logic of her dream world we saw an assassination attempt against Diane's Hollywood hopes embodied by Camilla. This led to a horrible accident that I believe hints at the real Camilla's death while showing the Camilla persona of Diane desperately attempting to survive. Then in the next scene, we see, through the Dan persona of Diane, how terrified Diane is of facing a horrible truth that is hidden behind Winkie's, and this is a horror that again involves death. And finally, in the fourth scene we get an inkling of Diane's double life because of her phone being the last in a chain of calls that hint at a call girl business in operation. As I mentioned much earlier, this sequence follows the pattern of the Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy enters Oz only after she sees her troubles displayed in a window while she dreams of her house being carried away in a tornado. Having now seen a synopsis of the issues with which she is struggling, Diane, like Dorothy, finally lands and her quest begins with her Betty persona on an apparently happy note.
I believe it is significant that Betty is wearing a pink sweater that looks too small for her. It seems clear that the sweater is something Diane may have worn when she was younger, perhaps when she was Dorothy's age. This means that Betty represents an almost childlike innocence in Diane's past. It is also important to note that the elderly couple who leave the airport with Betty and say goodbye to her never show up again in her fantasy. You might even say that they are dispatched quickly and with finality. Their reason for being here at the beginning of Betty's entrance into the fantasy is probably because in Diane's mind the incident is similar to the same two elderly people dropping her off at the airport in her real life when she left Canada for LA. I believe this couple to be Diane's grandparents and I believe that there is something unsavory about them as hinted at by their sinister laughter as they are driven off after parting with Betty at the airport. Yet, since part of the point of Diane's Betty persona is that with her everything is seen in idealized innocence, only positive images are allowed to surface at this time. And Diane struggles to keep it that way for Betty for as long as she can.
Betty's Oz is LA, and although Diane's mind doesn't treat the two elderly people like she is very familial with them, she does make them into her munchkin-like welcoming committee to make her feel right at home. Betty's yellow brick road is the yellow cab, and 1612 Havenhurst and a successful Hollywood career are her destination. The Hollywood sign in the distance shows up prominently to set the context. But after things start off on such a positive note, the Oz analogies become much more complex and much darker. It turns out that Havenhurst is where her Aunt used to live and she believes it is the place from which she can enter the movie business. Unfortunately, she has no red haired Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, to give her guidance because her red haired aunt, who represents Glinda, is on a trip to the north. However, a motherly figure named Coco, dressed all in black to signify her influential status, is there to greet her.
Coco takes charge of everyone in this apartment complex which is associated with Betty/Diane's Hollywood aspirations, much the same way the real Coco appeared to take charge everything at Adam's party with his Hollywood insiders. Yet Coco's last name in the fantasy is Lenoix, a French name the same as "le noix," which means "the nut." The symbolic significance of this is reinforced later when we see the Coco of the real world at Adam's party eating nuts during a conversation about Diane trying to make it as an actress. There is definitely something strange and "nutty" about the wannabes in Coco's Hollywood "haven." There is dog excrement in the middle of the courtyard, and Coco tells a story of how a kangaroo at one point made even a bigger mess. In telling the story Coco mentions the word "kangaroo" and court in the same sentence, and we begin to realize that the powerful ones in Hollywood run the place like it's a kangaroo court. Thus, we can surmise that talent is not always the determining factor in Hollywood. But Coco approves of Betty in the fantasy and gives her the key to her aunt's apartment. By giving her the key that the aunt wanted Betty to have, Coco is opening a new door for Betty. And like the door that was opened by the key that the hit man gives Diane later, this new door in Betty's life ends up involving Rita/Camilla.
When Betty explores her aunt's home she quickly finds that the naked Rita was there first, and so it turns out that Diane cannot play out her Hollywood dream with only the simple innocent Dorothy-like persona of Betty. She becomes linked to the sensual Rita/Camilla persona even before Betty can unpack her blue suitcases, because in truth her aunt was never there to show her any other way. The fact that Betty's first sight of Rita during her fantasy is when Rita is naked in a shower emphasizes how much Diane connects the Rita persona with the image of her naked body. Betty also opens the shower door when she first sees her, which is an important detail we will come back to and deal with in a later scene when the metaphor of "opening the door" is addressed. It is Diane's mind that is the source of this image of Rita, and that is an important thing to focus on here. Later in this scene, Betty says, "And now I'm in this dream place," to give us yet another clue to the fact that we are in Diane's dream. I believe that she brings into the dream the nakedness of Rita to reveal to us that the issue of women being seen as sex objects is why the Rita persona is so important to her quest to make it in Hollywood. With no Aunt Ruth around to give her any other advice, Betty eventually embraces the Rita persona trusting that it will not lead her in the wrong direction.
As I mentioned before, Betty's Aunt Ruth is the one she looked to as a guide, just as Dorothy looked to her Aunt Em. However, Betty's aunt is always just out of reach in Diane's fantasy, always leaving just before Betty gets there, or in the end, arriving just after Betty has left. Dorothy had hope that she could find her way back to her aunt, but Diane's yearning for her Aunt can never be resolved because Diane's aunt is dead. So Diane, unlike Dorothy, has "no place like home" to which she can return. With this as her reality, Rita/Camilla becomes Diane's only hope to help her navigate the road to success in Hollywood.
I've mentioned before the symbols we see in this scene which show how Rita is more an embodiment of the aunt's success than is the innocent Betty, with her pink sweater that is just a little too small. It is Rita who got to the house first. It is Rita who becomes the red haired Rita Hayworth's namesake from the beginning. And it is Rita, with her red towel, who is the one who gets to wear the aunt's majestic looking red and black robes. Therefore, by the end of this scene Betty wants to help Rita. In fact, since Rita is so closely associated with the quest that brought her to Hollywood, Betty wants to protect Rita from those who are out to get her. The partnering of the Betty and Rita personas becomes a central component to the resolution of Diane's identity crisis. However, that is not the only thing going on in her head.