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
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 dinner party.
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
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 happened?
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
Related: Jitterbug contest
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.
Very 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 Diane's
The call is meant for Diane Selwyn in the fantasy sequence, but
it remains unanswered as her body lies decaying at Sierra
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
It's a replay of the call to attend the dinner party, 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.
Mr Roque's line "The girl is still missing" is 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 Mulholland Drive.
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
red lamp shade is visible at Havenhurst on first floor above
Aunt Ruth's apartment.
Red lamp shade
There's a blue lamp shade
on the table in Mr Roque's room. Blue/Red as a yin/yang symbolism?
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 walks in).
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.
dream Rita is getting high-jacked on her way to Adam at the same place,
but she escapes hit and accident.
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.
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 illusions shattered.
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 party.
Watch for the reprised line
"What are you doing? We don't stop here!" by
Visual echoes - black
Clue No. 4 - (blu-riven)
The 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). So 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
These are chronological narration elements used for time references in
the "real time" scenes.
purple) at Havenhurst, with the note for (Bitsie) 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.
red robe with a black collar) on second day during the rehearsal
scene with Betty. »here
Betty's: (hot pink) at
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 scene, masturbation).
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
obviously swapped 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
Her being employed
at a diner (waitress Betty/Diane?) respectively being a
incorporating personal objects. If so, are we to take the
hitman scene at Winkie's likewise as fantasy and not based on a
The cup changes into a
glass of Whiskey in the couch scene with Camilla.
At the Ryan Board
conference Luigi orders a cup espresso.
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 Silencio?
- Felt: Love, unreturned love, pain, tears, spasm, loss, fear,
- 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
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:
The conspiracy is Diane's rationalization for why she never 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 accept
responsibility 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.
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
Been watchin you
Note the occurrences surrounding
the man behind 'Winkies'
Dan meets the face of this
God-awful feeling. He dies from an heart attack after seeing 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
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
In reality, as we learn from Diane at the dinner pool party, Aunt
Ruth is dead, but left her an inheritance. Clue? There's a
black 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 being dead.
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:
Aunt Ruth's ghost, somehow interacting with Diane's fantasy in
the same way that Louise Bonner and Dan at Winkie's could.
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.
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.
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 … an illusion.
That 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
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.