Lynch's10CluestoUnlocktheThriller


Threads:
David Lynch are giving clues! in todays Guardian - (Anders Hellgren)
David Lynch's Clues to Unlock this Thriller - (deepmovie) 
Probably nothing new here, but I need resolution - (Stooka)

Links:
Alternative Analysis of Lynch's 10 clues (Alan Shaw)
Follow David Lynch's clues and win a trip to the real Mulholland Drive
(The Observer)
David Lynch's 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller
(Metafilter)


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)


1.

 

 

 

Pay particular attention to the beginning of the film: At least two clues are revealed before the credits

  1. 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 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 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 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 #10 F)

    Related: Jitterbug contest

  2. 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.

  3. We here a noise that distinctly sounds like cocaine being snorted followed by the sound of someone breathing hard, falling into the pillow.

    • Somebody is falling into a (drug-induced?) sleep - a dream is about to begin.

    • We later see the same green blanket and red pillow when Diane wakes up. It's her dream.

Thread: Very opening scene... falling into the pillow. - (Gonk)

2.

Notice appearances of the red lampshade

Another clue to the viewer that we have at least two alternate realities.

  1. 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. Possible interpretations:

    1. 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 phone. 

    2. The call is meant for Diane Selwyn in the fantasy sequence, but it remains unanswered as her body lies decaying at Sierra Bonita.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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?

Related: Phone call chain

  1. 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.

  2. More red lampshades:

    1. Inside 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?

    2. Another red lamp shade is visible at Havenhurst on first floor above Aunt Ruth's apartment. 

Related: Red lamp shade

  1. 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

3.

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 realities.

  1. 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). 

  2. 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

4.

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.
Possible interpretations: 

  1. The 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.

  2. 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 illusions shattered. 

  3. 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 party.

Watch for the reprised line "What are you doing? We don't stop here!" by Rita and Diane.

Links:
The limo
Visual echoes - black limousine
Clue No. 4 - (blu-riven)
The car accident - (woodlouse)

5.

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?

  • Rita: in her bag with the hit money. Diane wants to transfer her guilt; there is no way Betty would carry it in the dream.

  • Diane: on her coffee table. Probably she retrieved it from somewhere else.

Observations: 

Only 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

6.

Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup

These are chronological narration elements used for time references in the "real time" scenes. 

Robe:

  • Ruth's: (precious, 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. 

  • Rita's: (distinctively red robe with a black collar) on second day during the rehearsal scene with Betty. here

  • Betty's: (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 scene, masturbation).

Related: MD costumes

Piano ashtray:

  • 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:

  • On the table by the red lamp we see an ashtray filled with butts of filter cigarettes. One of them has a mark of red lips stick. Since Diane is not shown to be a smoker, those butts could be from Camilla or her neighbor.

Related: The ashtray

Coffee cup:

  • Diane brews herself a coffee in a cup similar to those at Winkie's. This could be a clue to

    1. Her being employed at a diner (waitress Betty/Diane?) respectively being a kleptomaniac

    2. 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 event?

  • 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.

Related: The cups

7.

What is felt, realised and gathered at the club Silencio?

  • 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

8.

Did talent alone help Camilla?

Which one?

  • 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.

  • Raven-haired Camilla

    1. Camilla 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.

    2. Or 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 Theory

Thread: Been watchin you - (vewatkin)

9.

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 "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

10.

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 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.

  • 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: 

    1. 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.

    2. In 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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 an illusion.

    5. That final scene is a flashback to the time Aunt Ruth was still living. She is hearing a ghostly disturbance of her own.

    6. The 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

Related:
Aunt Ruth
Diane's dream is a replay of her Sexual abuse

Thread: Dear Aunt Ruth, I would like to meet you! - (gandalf36)
Link: This Will Be the End of Everything (jackmagazine.com)


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:

  • Act 1: She found herself the perfect mystery

  • Act 2: A sad illusion

  • Act 3: Love

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. - (bunter)