No murder, no abuse

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devilish
 
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No murder, no abuse

Postby devilish » 09 Oct 2013

Hi, I realise that it is probably quite bad form to just jump in and post a naked theory to the board as a newbie, but although I did some digging over old posts to see where I could append my ideas there didn't seem to be anywhere obvious without resurrecting some quite old and long discussions.

I'm a long-time fan of all things Lynch, previously found over at Twinpeaksgazzette when it was alive, but I've been dormant for many years...However, after watching Mulholland Drive again tonight I felt compelled to try and write down my ideas. I've already kept myself up far too late on a work night, so I hope you'll forgive me getting to the point and putting my ideas out there for discussion. I don't claim 100% originality, but for what it's worth this isn't the product of spending hours trying to piece together other people's theories either; hence I imagine there is much that the good people of this message board might be able to point out about my ideas, and all comments will be welcomed.

Here's the bullet point version:

In her youth Diane wins a jitterbug contest in Canada; this ignites a passion for performing and dreams of stardom

Some time later Diane’s aunt (a somewhat successful actress in Hollywood) dies, leaving her circa $50,000 dollars

She travels to Hollywood with dreams of being a movie star

She is unsuccessful, only getting some small parts as extras on some films, as is the reality for 99% of all aspiring starlets who travel to LA (deduced from the conversation at the party with Coco, real or imagined – signified by the patronising pat on the hand)

An example - she auditions for a role on the Silvia North Story; but the director didn’t think much of her (she is not in reality very good, although she later re-imagines a reality where her performance moves the entire room).

The film probably never gets made in any case (implied by the casting agent – again, a Hollywood reality, even if you gain a part at audition most productions are not able to get off the ground )

Becoming resigned to never making it Hollywood, out of luck and out of money ($50,000 will not last long in sustaining dreams), Diane becomes involved in prostitution. Meets Joe, who strings her along with promises (I can get you the Hollywood black book of names that you need to open these locked doors...) but is really just taking advantage, including eventually pimping her.

She develops a lesbian relationship with a woman in her apartment complex (possibly as a reaction to prostitution?). It ends and they separate as her luck continues to fail to materialise and she slips into depression.

Diane has all along been too ashamed to admit the truth to her family who she feels had high hopes for her. After losing contact with her and concerned, her family send detectives to find her (there is no murder, no crime – just run of the mill private investigators, or police following up the last known address of a missing person)

She switches apartments with her ex in order to evade them, possibly also to avoid Joe or other unsavoury characters she has come to know whilst the Hollywood dream crashes around her.

She escapes from reality in her imagination. In her dream/imaginings, many mundane and decrepit features are reinvented as glamorous and beautiful; hence the transformation of Gonzales to Rita/Camille, the transformation of the Sierra Bonita apartments to the glamorous community that aunt Ruth used to live within, the re-imagined audition for the Silvia North Story in a production that actually gets made.

Even within the delusional imagined scenario, forces are at work that prevent her from getting the leading role; the delusion is tinged with reality that seeps in unwanted, explained away as further delusional embellishment. She develops delusions about the Hollywood system that explain why she has not been successful – the mob are behind everything, or else actresses sleeping with directors are the ones that get the parts (prostitution in another guise).

She either invents from scratch or hijacks the persona of a real Camille/Rita (whom she may have seen on a set if she is real). If based on a real person, it is unlikely that Diane never had any connection with Camille/Rita - as such, Camille/Rita is a “blank” person, no memories, no identity; thus easy to control, to feel powerful in relation to, to rescue as she herself wishes to be rescued. She represents an aspect of Diane combined with a fantasy version of her lesbian ex . She visually resembles her lesbian ex partner (as Rita with dark hair); she visually resembles her idealised self (as Rita with blonde wig).

She falls in love with the image she has created, visualised by the sexual scene; however, because of Rita’s status as an aspect of Diane’s own identity hence revealed to be purely masturbatory, representative also of Diane’s fallen in love with herself in past dreams of what Hollywood would be like. Crying whilst masturbating= trying to get back in touch with that naive fantasy self again, unsuccessfully.

The dream, which has partially sustained her as she slipped further and further away from the Hollywood dream and into depression bordering on psychosis, starts to fall apart, represented by the Club Silencio “it is all an illusion”.

Beginning to acknowledge the reality of her situation, she embellishes the delusion into a scenario where she seeks revenge on the Hollywood system, and her imagined love creation, and her actual ex-partner, represented by the contract with hitman Joe. Even within the fantasy however she knows that revenge would not be successful, that Joe would not be able to follow through even if he wanted to (in the fantasy, he couldn’t do it because he’s incompetent; in reality, he couldn’t do it because he’s just not that connected, he’s a petty criminal). And in any case, why would Joe actually do the deed asked? Diane at this point seems dumb enough that she would be easily taken advantage of (asking what the key opens – it opens nothing).

The blue key then symbolises everything lost; the money, the dreams, the love, the hope. When Diane realises this, not just the fantasy breaks down but her reality as well.

Facing up to her loss and sadness and shame, represented by the Badly Burned Man, she is haunted by the memories of the expectations of her family, and kills herself.

Her rotted corpse is not discovered by anybody until it is in an advanced state of decay, 3 weeks later.

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby Siku » 09 Oct 2013

Hi devilish and welcome to the forum. :up:

Its always good to hear new people's thoughts and we all come here packed with ideas we want to share. The forum can be quite sleepy and a lot of us have been chewing this all over for years so no guarantee what kind of 'left-field' responses you might get, if any!

Generally I think your analysis is spot on. It's sort of 'classical theory plus' - not completely far out but with a few details that never made it into the 'classical theory' (although they should have, IMHO). I suppose most folks get the classical theory and then move on without bothering about the last few loose ends.

devilish wrote:...Meets Joe, who strings her along with promises (I can get you the Hollywood black book of names that you need to open these locked doors...) but is really just taking advantage.

This is new. Black book as promise of Hollywood in. Nice.

devilish wrote:She develops a lesbian relationship with a woman in her apartment complex.

Yes, yes, yes!

devilish wrote:She escapes from reality in her imagination. In her dream/imaginings, many mundane and decrepit features are reinvented as glamorous and beautiful; hence the transformation of Gonzales to Rita/Camille...

This is the key to the whole movie for me, and was my big theory when I got here. Here's the thread where I set out my stall.

devilish wrote:She either invents from scratch or hijacks the persona of a real Camille/Rita (whom she may have seen on a set if she is real). If based on a real person, it is unlikely that Diane never had any connection with Camille/Rita.

My pet theory is that she met Carol on set and based Rita/Camilla on Carol + Gonzales. Just though you might find this theory fun.

devilish wrote:Facing up to her loss and sadness and shame, represented by the Badly Burned Man, she is haunted by the memories of the expectations of her family, and kills herself.

But does she REALLY kill herself? given the title of this thread show you are sceptical of the abuse and the murder, why accept the suicide at face value?

devilish wrote:Her rotted corpse is not discovered by anybody until it is in an advanced state of decay, 3 weeks later.
You presume. The '3 weeks' comment was Gonzales saying "C'mon Diane it's been three weeks", and the discovery of the rotting corpse happens earlier in the dream (hence is normally ascribed a symbolic meaning), so of course Diane wouldn't know about it.

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby devilish » 09 Oct 2013

Hi Siku, thanks for taking the time to read and respond!

Thanks for pointing me to your "Fatal Flaw" thread - I read through the entire thing, and I see lots of connections there to agree with. In a way I am surprised that the idea of Diane and The Lamplady (does she have another name? I think I used Gonzales last night, but today I can't remember where I got that from...) being lovers is considered controversial by others; I accept it isn't explicitly stated in retrospect, but to me it seemed heavily implied, especially given what is revealed about Diane's desires and orientation.

I see where you're coming from with the Carol/Camille connection; but for me, Carol (if Carol is the first singer in the audition scene) wasn't enough of an established character to hang this sort of assumption on. I am more comfortable with the idea of Camille/Rita being a fantasy relationship with a real person that she didn't really know that closely (so, in this view, the scene with Adam and Camille in the car on set could well be a real memory, but the garden path scene and engagement party more likely an embellished fantasy), as this fits with the implied reality of Diane being only ever on the very fringes of Hollywood, never quite in there. Also, as Diane doesn't really know the real Camille, hence the relatively blank identity in her fantasy.

As for whether she really kills herself; well, I am not married to the idea that she genuinely commits suicide because the scene would be just as powerful if it were purely symbollic. However, I do not feel constrained to understanding every scene in the film as Diane's eye-witness testimony, as I feel that it would be internally consistent and in keeping with the surrealist themes for Lynch to show us a foreshadow of Diane's ultimate fate in the scene with Betty (or if you prefer, a part of Diane's subconscious awakening to the idea of suicide before she carries out the act). On reflection though, I do feel that the final scenes, and in particular the closing phrase "Silencio" would be diminished if there was no suicide, so I tend to feel more inclined to the "suicide really occurred" interpretation.

I do not necessarily hold a sceptical view in relation to the idea of abuse and murder. However, I do tend to enjoy coming to the most comprehensive view of Lynch's films whilst avoiding what I see as unnecessary supposition. Some degree of inference and assumption making is usually necessary to bridge the gaps as a fully coherent narrative doesn't appear to be Lynch's primary concern in making films, but neither is the narrative unimportant - I therefore prefer to keep things as parsimonious as possible as I feel this principle tends to reflect reality (I think I read something along the same lines from you somewhere...).

Keeping things parsimonious and grounded in what is shown as much as possible also avoids the risk of running wild with any idea that might fit but which lacks direct evidence (so, I don't tend to subscribe to "Lynch doesn't put things in a scene for no reason" theories - he's an artist and a film maker, not a robot; oversights, mistakes and coincidencies should be expected from time to time, and just because something can be given meaning doesn't mean that it was intended - people make that sort of mistake all the time, eg. the well-known phenomenon of seeing faces in random patterns).

Therefore, although the idea of Diane being abused is consistent with her character and her apparent development of a type of mental illness, I don't embrace the idea because to me nothing in the film directly implies it (and Lynch does seem as a rule to not shy away from this theme if it is intended to be there). Which might make the idea of my rejecting the idea that there was a murder seem odd, as this IS implied within the film; however, I square that circle by considering the relationship with the supposed hitman, and especially the scene where he bungles the hit. To me, he seems simultaneously unlikely to be able to successfully carry out such a job, and also likely to lack the motivation to do it (if I were in his position, I am not convinced that I would carry out the job just because I accepted payment for it. Assassinating someone is serious business; and something a criminal would only do if they a) weren't going to get paid (but Diane pays in advance...) or b) thought there would be repurcussions for not carrying it out as agreed (and Diane appears to be in no position to threaten or control or influence Joe)). Especially as we saw Joe earlier in the film in a controlling, taking advantage role in relation to the hooker (who by the same logic as the Lamplady/Camilla connection has just GOT to be a representation of the real Diane - the clothes, the hair, the association with Joe, the narrative consistency), I feel that he would be likely to continue to take advantage of Diane, and his laugh at the end of the scene does nothing to disconfirm this idea in my mind.

Glad you liked the bit about the Hollywood black book; it might be my only unique contribution, but to me it helps to make sense of that whole scene a bit more. It may not have been what was originally intended there - but I feel it does fit closely with the way that theme that the film developed once it moved past being a TV pilot.

As for the 3 week idea - I don't think I was thinking about Lamplady's dialogue, but I can't remember where else the timescale came from...It's not crucial. Scrub the 3 weeks comment, it's not necessary.

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby Siku » 11 Oct 2013

We all have a unique perspective finely balancing interpretations and assumptions depending on how we choose to interpret and what we expect to find.

devilish wrote:I am surprised that the idea of Diane and The Lamplady... being lovers is considered controversial by others; I accept it isn't explicitly stated in retrospect, but to me it seemed heavily implied, especially given what is revealed about Diane's desires and orientation.

I don’t think it’s the idea of Lamplady and Diane being lovers that people find unpalatable but the inevitable conclusion that Camilla doesn’t exist, being rather a fantasy version of Lamplady. This begins to completely unravel the base line ‘reality’ in the classical version (failed love – murder – suicide). THAT’s controversial.

devilish wrote:Carol… wasn't enough of an established character to hang this sort of assumption on.

Absolutely! Hanging anything on an extra who only appears for 5 mins is reaching. But I just love the scene and the song (worth checking out Connie Stevens), and the shared moment between Adam and Diane is so powerful. Don’t forget this is the scene where Betty first sees (blonde) Camilla, so the idea that she meets (brunette) Camilla this way is in the air, if you like.

devilish wrote:I am more comfortable with the idea of Camille/Rita being a fantasy relationship with a real person that she didn't really know that closely… Also, as Diane doesn't really know the real Camille, hence the relatively blank identity in her fantasy.

I agree. And Carol, in my mind, fits perfectly into the “person she didn’t know that closely” category. If Brunette Camilla is a fantasy drawn in part from the Lamplady that begs the question, who else is she based on? She looks a bit like LL, but she also looks like Carol.


For me the suicide uncertainty is a bit take-it-or-leave it. I mean what difference does it make whether it REALLY happened in a film which is so much about subjective perceptions. But for me the final sequence makes more sense if its post death rather than post suicide fantasy.

devilish wrote: Keeping things parsimonious and grounded in what is shown as much as possible also avoids the risk of running wild with any idea that might fit but which lacks direct evidence (so, I don't tend to subscribe to "Lynch doesn't put things in a scene for no reason" theories - he's an artist and a film maker, not a robot; oversights, mistakes and coincidencies should be expected from time to time, and just because something can be given meaning doesn't mean that it was intended - people make that sort of mistake all the time, eg. the well-known phenomenon of seeing faces in random patterns).


I take this approach, looking for what is parsimonious. Also, fair point Lynch is not a robot, mistakes and accidents DO happen. That said, I think it’s valid to forget ‘what Lynch intended’ and respond instead to ‘what is there’. The first approach is a bit of a wild goose chase anyway because (a) Lynch refuses to divulge what he intended (b) a work isn’t just a way into the creator’s mind, but a thing on it’s own terms. Taking the second approach, and leaving to one side questions of what was intended, is incredibly liberating. It means we can trust and follow what we observe and questions of whether they’re accidental or not become irrelevant.

As it happens I think Lynch is a master of the ambiguous, creating so many loose ends and points of meaning, all within a coherent thematic framework, that connections inevitably emerge. It’s like the wallpaper is designed to have as many faces as possible, all plausibly deniable. Maybe some of this is coincidence, maybe Lynch got lucky when e.g. he cast Carol to look so like Camilla. But in some games you make your own luck. As someone said about backgammon “It’s all luck. But the more I play, the luckier I get!”.

So while I look for what’s parsimonious and coherent, I’m very open to other observations. Every angle you look at this from you can see something different and, in it’s own way, conherent. That’s an amazing thing – like a beautiful but ambiguous sculpture that keeps revealing as you walk around and around it.

devilish wrote:I don't embrace the idea [of abuse] because to me nothing in the film directly implies it.

There’s LOADS of evidence of abuse. Check out [url]this thread[/url]. If it s faces in wallpaper, fair enough, but bear in mind Lynch’s work deals with abuse as an almost constant theme. If he doesn’t want to be too explicit about it her, well there’s only so much screen time, but I think it’s there in the background informing everything about Diane/Betty.

Regarding the hitman, you make a fair point that he could just take Diane’s money and not complete the hit. I think this whole strand has an aura of Hollywood unreality to it that throws into question. Similarly many have questioned whether Diane would have a gun in her bedside table. It just all seems very fantastical, especially coming from a delusional narcissist!

devilish wrote: Scrub the 3 weeks comment, it's not necessary.

No I like that. Of course, from a strictly logical point of view, it doesn’t make sense that Diane’s dream would contain information about events after her suicide. But this isn’t a strict or logical world, more as a collage of interconnecting ideas. So Rita’s question “who am I?”, leads to the dead body and the question, “who killed Diane Selwyn?”, a question answered at the conclusion by Diane’s suicide.

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby ctyankee » 12 Oct 2013

Siku wrote:I don’t think it’s the idea of Lamplady and Diane being lovers that people find unpalatable but the inevitable conclusion that Camilla doesn’t exist, being rather a fantasy version of Lamplady. This begins to completely unravel the base line ‘reality’ in the classical version (failed love – murder – suicide). THAT’s controversial.


That's largely true but it goes beyond that. Stated simply, the idea that the Lamp Lady is the basis of Camilla is not supported by the film. Said another way, if the Lamp Lady was important, Lynch would have developed her. He didn't.

Nice thread and welcome to the board, devilish!

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby Siku » 12 Oct 2013

Not true. The idea that the lamp Lady is the basis of Camilla is supported in many ways, e.g. name, looks, relationship to Diane, strange haircutting episode, etc.

You could say that the CONCLUSION that the lamp Lady is the basis of Camilla isn't supported by the film, if that's your reading of things. But to say the IDEA isn't supported is just inaccurate.

Anyway, you know the evidence for the theory ctyankee, you've read the discussions. If you care to refute it, go ahead.

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby devilish » 12 Oct 2013

Thanks for the welcome ctyankee, and thanks again for taking the time to respond so carefully Siku; I was hoping that I might get into a good conversation with somebody, but given how long it's been since the film's release I wasn't necessarily expecting it! There were plenty of discussions at the time on the twinpeaksgazette board, but that place has been closed for a while now and in any case it'd been many years since I was active there. The whole getting into a discussion about Lynch thing is therefore a bit of a reminiscence trip for me. I actually saw Mulholland Drive before it was theatrically released through connections with a fellow twinpeaksgazette boardie who worked in the film industry in the UK, and I later went to the London premiere and met Laura Harring and Naomi Watts (who did a short talk following the screening), so MD has always had a special place in my heart.

I think I get what you're getting at with the Carol/Rita/Lamplady connection now, and I like the idea. On reflection, I think that's what I'm often looking for in an explanation; not necessarily something that's watertight, but rather something that I enjoy thinking about. I'm a practising psychologist by profession, so I think I am also naturally drawn to explanations that are grounded in likely human scenarios. I remember being on the receiving end of some quite vehement arguments at times (e.g. regarding Twin Peaks - the "Killer Bob as a supernatural entity" vs "Killer Bob as the way in which Laura defended against the real identity of her abuser" ideas, and you can probably guess which explanation I prefer). Some people seemed to be of the opinion that the more literal but more fantastical explanations were richer and more intereresting than the ones that are grounded in human perception, abuse and psychological processes, but I never saw things this way. For me, the psychological explanations are the more rich and complex ideas to think about, and also more profound. Which isn't to say that I don't enjoy the supernatural or more fantastic explanations too - absolutely holding them in mind at the same time is the huge attraction of Lynch for me, and he's not the first to use metaphor, allegory and shifting contexts to enrich an idea. So I do understand the controversy over "unravelling the base line reality in the classical version" as you put it, but for me it's not at all about persuading others that my version is "right", it's only about sharing ideas that in my view only serve to enhance the experience. But having said that, it is nice to find somebody who sees things the same way too!

So I'd be interested to look at that thread that you tried to point me to regarding support for the idea of abuse in Diane's background, as the link you provided doesn't work, as obviously this idea would fit very closely with the rest of the way I'm seeing things. I'd be interested to see what I've missed after all this time if nothing else!

As for your comment about the Lamp Lady ctyankee - I have a lot of sympathy for it. I think perhaps like you, and unlike Siku, I do regard the author's intention as more important than whatever might arise from the eddies and currents within the "finished work in its own right". Ordinarily I would agree that the LampLady had little development in support of the contention; yet for some reason I have always felt that there was something significant about the character that made an emotional connection with me right from the beginning, i.e. without me having to expend a lot of effort to make a connection. I know that fluidity of thought isn't necessarily a sign that an idea is linked but in my experience it is often a good guide. However, I do acknowledge that in this case, any fluidity of thought seems to stem from the degree to which you judge the Lamplady to be reminiscent of Camilla or not (and not based just on appearances); if you do, then the fluidity of thought is there, if you don't then you won't have that experience and the rest won't follow either. As I indicated above, I don't say this with the intention of persuading you to think otherwise; just to say that I differ from your evaluation in this regard.

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby Siku » 16 Oct 2013

devilish, sorry messed up that link. I was just going to point to the relevant page on the main site.

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Re: No murder, no abuse

Postby Erniesam » 22 Oct 2013

Devilish and Siku,

I think your discussion is very interesting. I never thought of a link between the roommate (lamplady as you call her) and Camilla. I guess the connection is that they both have a sex life with Betty / Diane and both of them turn her down in the end. However, I do not see them as the same person, because I see other, more important connections to tie them to. But the sexual connection is certainly there. This sexual connection is another clue (next to many others) that Diane was abused: sex is the only way Diane knows how to get someone's love.

As for Camilla not being real, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I'm of the opinion that you must view the dream as well as the fantasy section as metaphorical. These are segments wherein Diane distorts the reality: the people in it are based on characters she has seen and experienced in real life, but they function as a metaphor for Diane's hopes and desires.

For instance: Camilla Rhodes in the dream as well as Carol are suppressed images of the real Camilla Rhodes. We can wonder IF Camilla Rhodes indeed played the part that Diane so desperately wanted, because the title of the film The Sylvia North Story implies, that this is the story of Diane herself (North stands for Ontario, Canada, where Diane came from). So it is the story of Diane herself, but she didn't get the part, meaning: she didn't make it in Hollywood.

Rita and Camilla are indeed one, I think. Still, there is a huge difference. Rita represents the real dream of Diane, to make it in Hollywood and be a loved actress. That's why Betty takes care of Rita, because it is Diane who takes care and nurses her dream, her "baby." Camilla pops up in the fantasy of Diane, which is closer to reality than the dream. And Camilla represents Diane's REAL experience in Hollywood, that is Diane losing her dream (hence the break up with Camilla) and Diane not getting the part (or in her mind being cheated by Hollywood) by Camilla getting engaged with Adam, that is Camilla being welcomed into Hollywood and not Diane.

What does this mean for the murder of Camilla? Well, because Camilla is a metaphor, she isn't killed. Furthermore, it isn't Camilla that Diane wants dead, but Camilla Rhodes (she is the one on the picture she gives to the hitman). So, did Camilla Rhodes get the part that Diane wanted? This is difficult to say, because we know that Diane fabricates many things in her fantasy. I'm inclined to say that Camilla Rhodes is a REAL person and that the request to the hitman to murder her only serves as a metaphor to "kill" Diane's dream to make it in Hollywood, that is to END her connection to Hollywood. And the key that the hitman gives to Diane is the key to unlock her trauma. Because...when the deed is done, that is when connection with Hollywood is broken, that is when Diane is able to confront her trauma (her escape route from this trauma is by than definately lost). This key is the key to her appartment, which serves as the conscious of Diane in which the trauma enters without her permission.

So, to me the dream and fantasy have to be seen metaphorically. What about her suicide in the end? Does this realy happen? In my opinion, there's no other way to interpret it, because this takes place IN reality. Furthermore, the images of Diane (the young Diane from the jitterbug-contest, Rita, Camilla and the Bum) which blend together, are all fictitious. They all become one for the last time, to represent the REAL Diane. And the "Silencio!" of the blue-haired lady signifies the peace Diane finally has, now she no longer has to uphold her fantasy and repress her trauma.

That at least is how I view Camilla Rhodes (in dream) and Carol and the relationship between Rita, Camilla and Diane herself. Talking about this movie I find very difficult. The movie itself has many layers and to connect the dots or infer ones interpretation isn't easy to do. I hope that you, Develish and Siku, and others can appreciate this contribution and have yourself other interesting views and opinions on the matter.


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