The idea leading his viewers on a paper-chase seems
a little unconvincing as it goes against Lynch's usual habit of letting his work stand alone. I think you have to
consider the fact that Lynch was pressured to come up with these clues by the French
production company that was losing millions. When these were released the film
was a disaster financially and the general buzz at that time was there
was no plot to figure out. I think the clues are important and relevant but not
necessarily the 10 clues Lynch would really give if he wanted us to figure out
what his exact intentions were. He had said before these were released and after
they were released that he would never reveal what MD meant to him, it was up to
everyone to have their own vision. - (richdubbya)
Pay particular attention to the beginning of the
film: At least two clues are revealed before the credits
Jitterbug contest: Betty wins. Irene and her companion cheer her up.
The dance contest had been a stepping stone for Diane to move
to Hollywood and pursue an acting career. We hear again of it at Adam's
Betty is shown bathed in the spotlight as the scene fades
into Diane's bedroom. We see images of dancing pairs while Betty, aside from the two
old people, is seen without a partner. Irene and her male companion are apparently a manifestation
of Diane's good/innocent side.
In order of appearance, the credits list Betty well
before Diane. This means that the partner-less jitterbugger we see is Betty.
This fact is supported by someone shouting "Betty,
Betty" off-screen right before the scene fades into Diane's
bedroom. Does this mean that Diane is spinning a yarn when she tells us that
she won a jitterbug contest? Or was the
contest real, but just represented to us differently than how it
Though people still jitterbug today, those are clearly
supposed to be people from back in the day. Everyone is wearing vintage
clothes. At present day nostalgia type sock hop most people would
be wearing current clothing and
maybe a few would be wearing contemporary versions of typical
jitterbug attire. Are we supposed to believe this
is all a throwback to the good old 50s or before (the time when Aunt Ruth was young) and not a
jitterbug contest that Betty/Diane was at? (Also consult clue #10
Right before the camera zooms
in on the pillow it seems to focus on the area of the floor where the blue
box later disappears at Havenhurst.
We here a noise that distinctly sounds like cocaine being snorted
followed by the sound of someone breathing hard, falling into the pillow.
opening scene... falling into the pillow. -
Notice appearances of the red
Another clue to the viewer that we have at least two alternate
In Diane's dream the red lampshade
appears at the end of a phone-call chain, in the middle of
Hollywood's Byzantine conspiracy. The call is not being answered.
It's a visual clue to us, the viewers, that Betty/Diane is the last in this pyramid scheme of Hollywood behind the scene operators.
This is reality poking its head in Diane's dream reminding herself that it was she who arranged the accident, both literally (when she arranged the hitman to kill Camilla), and figuratively (when she created a better version of Camilla in her dream).
The phone goes unanswered because Diane is unwilling to acknowledge that she is, indeed, the one and only creator of such machinations; the viewers themselves only make the connection hours later, when we see another shot of
call is meant for Diane Selwyn in the fantasy sequence, but it remains
unanswered as her body lies decaying at Sierra Bonita.
They call for real
Diane Selwyn. Since the Hollywood underworld controls the movie business,
Diane would idealize acceptance in this world. "The girl is still
missing" refers to Diane holing up in her apartment for
weeks, imagining Hollywood to be clamoring for her.
It's a replay of the call to attend the
only with Mr Roque as the initiator and Diane avoiding the
call. It's her pathological way of dealing with reality. Diane feels
that she should never have come. She should never have
picked up the phone when Camilla called that night.
line "The girl is still
referring to Rita. There is a shot of
her sleeping under the kitchen table before the phone call
sequence starts, establishing that she is the girl who's still
missing … from the crash scene. Was she on her way to a liaison
with Mr Roque?
Phone call chain
When Diane Selwyn wakes up and thinks of
Camilla, we learn that the phone by the red lampshade is actually her
own home telephone. When she answers it, Camilla invites her to 6980
More red lampshades:
the corner shop at Pink's. In connection with the prostitute who
looks like a doppelganger of Diane it could symbolize Diane
being subjected to prostitution. Is she a
call girl living a double life?
red lamp shade is visible at Havenhurst on first floor above Aunt
Red lamp shade
There's a blue lamp shade on the table in Mr
Roque's room. Blue/Red as a yin/yang symbolism?
Related: Lamp shade gallery
Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher
is auditioning actresses for? Is it mentioned again?
Another hint that we deal with alternate
We hear on the set that Adam Kesher is
auditioning for the leading role in the "Sylvia North Story"
(stagehand announcing: "The Sylvia North Story, Camilla Rhodes, take one." just
about when Blond Camilla
This movie title is mentioned again by
Diane at Adam's dinner party. Wilkins tells that Bob Brooker
directed the "Sylvia North Story" and Camilla was great in it.
Judging from the title, "The Sylvia
North Story" is presumably a tragic story of a fallen starlet, for
which both Diane and Camilla were auditioning. Irony to their tragic ends.
Related: The Sylvia North Story
An accident is a terrible
event … Notice the location
of the accident
On the way to 6980 Mulholland Drive, at Adam
Kesher's house. It is the place where Diane is picked up by Camilla following her hand in hand up through the secret passage.
Diane thought maybe Camilla was interested in reconciling with her after
all, but did not know about Camilla's surprise announcement for later that
night. The party turned
out to be a horrible humiliation for Diane, so in her rage and
jealousy she orders a hit on Camilla.
Later she feels remorse about it.
In Diane's dream Rita is getting high-jacked on
her way to Adam at the same place, but she escapes hit and accident.
messed up hit both prevents Camilla from reaching her destination (the dinner party?)
and allows Diane's guilt to be assuaged as the hit fails. This way Diane wants to undo her terrible crime.
If an accident is to be taken figuratively and not literally, then the
dream accident of Rita on Mulholland Drive is just a stand-in for Diane's
accident - an unexpected and traumatic event (dinner party) where her
In Diane's dream the hit on
Camilla was initiated by the shady consortium of producers who decided
to not have her in their movie. They ambush Camilla on her Mulholland
Drive ride in the same way as Camilla set Diane up, bringing her to the
Watch for the reprised line "What are you doing? We don't stop
here!" by Rita
echoes - black limousine
No. 4 - (blu-riven)
car accident - (woodlouse)
Who gives a key, and why?
- Coco: from Aunt Ruth to Betty … to enter the "dreamworld".
- The Hitman (blue key): To confirm the
deal is done.
Who gets the key?
one key is given in the film. The key that Coco gives to Betty.
The hitman doesn't give a key. He *leaves* it for Diane. Moreover Betty
doesn't touch Rita's blue key either.
There's a sleight of hand going on here. The viewers are lured to
focusing on the blue keys. But neither is ever "given".
Betty is given the key to Aunt Ruth's apartment because Aunt Ruth is dead,
just as Diane is given another key because Camilla is dead (see clue #10).
if the Coco key is a clue, then Coco's relationship with the two main
protagonists needs further examining.
Related: The blue key
Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee
These are chronological narration elements used for time references in
the "real time" scenes.
Ruth's: (precious, purple) at Havenhurst, with the note for
Betty. Betty uses it to cover Rita.
Rita is wearing it the first day around. »here
It was almost regal and it was clearly meant for Betty, but only Rita wears it.
Betty is never able to put it on. When you look at these clues you begin to see that Diane envied Camilla because she was enjoying the success that Diane had wanted and had been dreaming of since her days in Deep River.
Rita's: (distinctively red
robe with a black collar) on second day during the rehearsal scene with
(hot pink) at rehearsal. »here
Diane's: (shabby, white) when Diane
is having the flashbacks in her
apartment. It looks like a faded version of her dream robe. »here
When Diane is wearing the bathrobe we are in 'realtime' (neighbor
scene, suicide), when she is wearing hot pans it's a flashback (couch
Related: MD costumes
When the piano ashtray is there, it is a flashback
(love scene on couch with Camilla), when it is gone it's the present
(neighbor picking up, Diane alone on couch having flashbacks, suicide).
The piano ashtray is there with Diane and Camilla on the couch. Diane
apartments before ordering the hit on Camilla (respectively prior to
the dinner party).
Ashtray with cig butts:
Related: The ashtray
Diane brews herself a coffee in a cup similar to
those at Winkie's. This could be a clue to
Her being employed at a diner (waitress Betty/Diane?) respectively being a kleptomaniac
Diane's dream incorporating
personal objects. If so, are we to take the
hitman scene at Winkie's likewise as fantasy and not based on a real-life
The cup changes into a glass of Whiskey in the couch
scene with Camilla.
At the Ryan Board conference Luigi orders a cup
At the pool party Diane sips coffee from a cup that
has SOS written on it. This echoes the "help me" cry of
Vincenzo Castigliane at the meeting. The cup sports the same colors
but different style and pattern as Luigi's espresso cup earlier.
What is felt,
realised and gathered at the club
- Felt: Love, unreturned love, pain, tears, spasm, loss, fear, compassion.
- Realized: All is an illusion. The Dream wasn't reality. Lies. Hollywood is fake.
The dream is over.
- Gathered: Betty gets a Blue Box with a triangular keyhole in her bag.
Related: Club Silencio
Did talent alone help Camilla?
Blond Camilla Rhodes is pushed by the Castigliane brothers to get the
lead in The Sylvia North Story. Possible interpretation:
conspiracy is Diane's rationalization for why
became famous in real life. She believes that she's done everything right, played by the rules, yet outside forces have
plotted against her, resulting in her failure. Bottom line, Diane refuses to
for losing the lead part.
had an affair with the director.
She probably used her sex appeal and was willing to sleep around to get ahead. Note the look Coco is throwing over at Camilla and Adam, when Betty
said at the dinner party: "Anyway, Camilla got the part", seemingly knowing of how
Camilla used to further her career.
did Diane and her money helped too? The
assertion here is that the money seen ready to be handed over by
Diane to Joe in the Winkie's scene is not a payoff for a contract
to kill Camilla, rather it is money paid to Joe to in some way
influence the casting of Camilla in a film – starting her off on
the road to stardom.
Related: The Bribery
Thread: Been watchin you
Note the occurrences surrounding the man behind
Dan meets the face of this God-awful feeling. He dies
from an heart attack after seeing the "monster".
Near the end of the film, after the hit on Camilla is settled at
Winkie's, we see the monster again. Only it's not a monster anymore.
It's a pathetic bum, stripped of everything, sad and disheveled. We see that
he is just one more person transformed into something else by Diane's dream. But wait! The homeless man is a
monster in her reality too. He is unleashing the miniatured couple of old people who
then drive Diane to commit suicide. Though Diane wished she'd never
have seen his face outside of her dream, he has been there all along.
After Diane's death, we see the monster superimposed on top of the smoke. And then we see his face fade out while
Betty's/Diane's face fades in. This last appearance of this "man" is especially instructive because with the connection between his face and Diane's face we are being told that this monster is yet another persona of Diane.
And so we realize that it is not a "man" at all. He is a she.
Related: The bum
Where is Aunt Ruth?
In Diane's dream Aunt Ruth is redeemed and shots a
film in Canada. She is letting Diane stay in her apartment.
In reality, as we learn from Diane at the dinner pool
party, Aunt Ruth is dead, but left her an inheritance. Clue? There's
hat popping up in Aunt Ruth's bedroom, resting on the bureau in the
scene where Rita gets undressed. Does is belong to a funeral
outfit? Note: There is an old joke in movie business, "acting in Canada" is
Ruth shows off
at the Havenhurst apartment right at the end of the dream, after Rita vanishes.
She is dressed the same way she left in the beginning. Possible interpretations:
It's Aunt Ruth's
ghost, somehow interacting with Diane's fantasy in the same way
that Louise Bonner and Dan at Winkie's could.
her lucid dream state Diane tries to
rewind the dream. It has broken down with the
disappearance of Betty and Rita. But her mind apparently doesn't want to let go of the fantasy.
Its almost like she's picked up the story from the
point of aunt Ruth coming back to her apartment for something at
the beginning of the film. The message we are being given is
that Diane is not looking forward to going back to her real life.
Diane dreams of her
aunt coming home from Canada to find her (Betty) disappeared.
Just as in the beginning when Ruth and
Betty missed another at Havenhurst, it symbolizes Diane's
yearning for her beloved Aunt that can
never be resolved because Ruth died before Diane arrived in L.A.
Ruth comes into the room to separate dream from
reality. It substantiates for us that there is no blue box on the floor, or in other word that is was a dream, or that the dream is ending. So, her presence is sort inaugurating reality, even if we are still in the dream.
Further, if this scene reflects actual reality, then, can we even
consider this woman to be Diane's aunt? Aren't we let to believe this
apartment is rather owned by some unknown lady and merely served as a canvas for Diane's dream? It was all
final scene is a flashback to the time Aunt Ruth was still living.
She is hearing a ghostly disturbance of her own.
movie is actually placed in the 50s. Betty/Diane is Aunt Ruth in her young
years. It's her story. Thus about when Rita opens the blue box Betty disappears. She
rematerializes as Aunt Ruth an instant later as to indicate that her
dream is over. »more
The last of David Lynch's clues asks
"Where is Aunt Ruth?" and the last scene of the movie presents us with the Blue Haired Woman.
Is she Aunt Ruth in her afterlife? »more
While avoiding a detailed deconstruction, David Lynch has given some clues to the interpretation of Mulholland Drive, both to the sequence of events and the underlying meaning.
On the back cover of the Mulholland Drive video, he describes the film as follows:
The perfect mystery presumably refers to
Rita's identity, and 'she' is Betty – but note the ambiguous words Lynch chose –
"she found herself'", rather than the "she found" – it could be read
"she found herself to be the perfect mystery". The mystery could refer to
Betty's real identity, as well as to Rita's.
Act 2 begins when Rita wakes up crying "Silencio". The sad illusion is show business, and also perhaps the unreciprocated love of Betty for Rita.
Act 3 begins when Diane awakes; it shows Diane's abiding love for Camilla, in the face of
Camilla's rejection, and her unwillingness to permit a world in which she and Camilla are apart.