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The Demons, Vampiric Spirits, and Gods of America
A movie review of Mulholland Drive
“Nature loves to hide.” -Heraclitus
This is movie review edition of RESAVAGER. Recent Caribbean Rhythms #116 was about the movie Mulholland Drive and it got me to finally watch. If you haven’t watched it, perhaps do so before you read this review or if you prefer, read this review to motivate you to see the movie. I believe BAP rightly points out that in some way, Mulholland Drive represents the modern American experience. Listen to his show for the deep dive into the movie, this essay will instead be more focused on the supernatural forces of Mulholland Drive. The basic premise of Mulholland Drive is an aspiring actress makes the pilgrimage to Hollywood to become a star and when she arrives she finds a helpless girl who’s lost her memories because of a car accident. From the get go, it’s not hard to realize that everything is not what it seems.
There are websites devoted to trying to figure out what happens in this movie because David Lynch doesn’t spell it out for you. It’s open to interpretation and I’ve seen many theories on it. What got my attention however, are the dark supernatural forces present within the film. These forces a normie just couldn’t comprehend. Mulholland Drive is very much a pagan movie. There are demons, vampiric spirits, and gods in this world beyond our modern understanding.
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I’m a native Californian, from the northern part of the state(the real norcal above the gay area). Growing up, I remember kids at school wishing they could go to Los Angeles. How there was nothing to do where we were. They weren’t wrong, but I had a different feeling. I never wanted to go to LA. Never had any interest in living there. There is some bad energy radiating from that place.
As a kid, I couldn’t really explain why I had no interest in LA. Could be that I had no interest in being famous. Yet as an adult, I find myself in this place. Has fate brought me here? Is this some trick of an American god? It’s interesting to consider, but from my experience, almost everyone I’ve worked with here is trying to become Hollywood famous. They all want to direct movies or become actresses. It weirded me out during the first couple months in LA.
The interpretations you can make from Mulholland Drive are many, but perhaps you should rule out “it was all a dream.”
The prevailing theory of Mulholland Drive is at least half the movie is a dream. I did not get this feeling, but I can understand what it comes from. To me, the movie characterizes a story as old as Hollywood: small town girl moves from across the country to become famous actress. What she finds however, is it is not hard work that will get her there. She must sleep her way to the top. Be someone she isn’t. Cheat and be ruthless when necessary.
What she must do to get ahead in Hollywood is soul crushing. Those that do it perhaps, become something else. Those that don’t get their life force and vitality sucked out of them by old decrepit vampires. There are many theories, but the one I come to peace with most is just the chronological happenings of the film. It begins with Betty who meets Rita, the girl who lost her memory. Betty is full of life whereas Rita seems broken and used up, but all is not what it seems.
As the movie progresses, the energy and confidence transfers from Betty to Rita and the roles become reversed in second half. Betty becomes used up Diane and Rita becomes famous Camilla. This is Lynch showing us the real Hollywood and the evil demonic energy it takes to thrive there. Rita seemed in bad place before the accident. Her life force was waning, everything was going wrong, and then, she is presented with Betty. I believe she meant it all to happen as it did.
Rita and the Strange Blue Key
When we first meet Rita, she’s in bad car accident. Loses her memory and instead of waiting for paramedics, decides to descend mountain back to Hollywood. She doesn’t remember who she is, but remembers that she doesn’t want to be picked up the police or have it known where she’s at. Many times she tries to dissuade Betty from trying to help her figure out who she is. She’s worried she’s being hunted, but doesn’t remember why. All she has in her is money and a strange blue key.
This key is very important. As the movie continues, Rita slowly becomes Betty and when she does, it’s celebrated with love making scene. There is moment just before when they both look in the mirror and they’re almost the same. Soon after this, they go to Club Silencio where odd things occur during the performance they’re watching. The performance causes Betty to have tremors. Near the end, Betty realizes there’s something in her purse. When she looks, she finds a blue box with a keyhole that matches the strange blue key. Both are shocked by this and hurry home to open the box.
Rita rushes to the closet to pull out her hidden purse to unlock the blue box. When she turns around however, Betty is gone. She calls and calls for Betty, but she doesn’t answer. She’s gone, vanished. Instead of looking for her, Rita opens the box with the key and everything turns black. From this moment, we see Rita become Camilla and Betty become Diane. Camilla becomes stronger and more glamorous with every scene. Betty loses more of her essence and life force with every scene.
What is the purpose of this key and box? It must be some kind of occult ritual designed to steal the essence and life force from Betty and transfer it to Camilla. The rest of the movie is watching all the youth and vitality being drained out of Betty who has become Diane in the second half of movie. You can make the argument that there is some battle of wills going on between Betty/Diance and Rita/Camilla, but the turn of Betty/Diane is quick. It starts suddenly with her shaking at the club and in the next scene, she is gone. I see movie as Camilla’s quest to remain relevant in Hollywood by draining the youth out of the unsuspecting Betty.
It’s just one example of many that occur not just in Hollywood, but in America. The old draining the youth and power from the young. Rita/Camilla is just one of the many vampiric spirits in Los Angeles preying upon the naive youth who are pulled to the city for sacrifice. Rita/Camilla is a vampiric spirit or some demon or god who uses the youth to remain in the spotlight. Maybe she is a witch. There is some still humanity left in her based on her reaction to finding the body of Diane Selwyn, but she is ruled by the demonic energy inside.
There is no dream in Mulholland Drive, but I wouldn’t rule out manipulation of time by Rita/Camilla. There may be some kind of time loop or time travel created by Rita/Camilla which can explain the inconsistency of the scenes(if there aren’t many different movies being made as suggested by some theorists). Maybe there is hit on Camilla paid for by Diane that fails because of the car accident at the beginning of the movie. The demon that is Camilla secures new youth to recapture her power and fame while also driving Diane to suicide.
There is no straight understanding to Mulholland Drive. Above was just how I interpreted it, maybe you have different interpretation? There are many side characters that are worth exploring and let’s start with The Cowboy. The Cowboy is brought in to deal with the director who doesn’t want the studio to pick his lead actress. The director is told all his credit cards are canceled and he’s made to go see The Cowboy who he can only find by going to corral on top of a mountain. Everything is dark up there until The Cowboy shows himself, causing the one lightbulb to flicker on. The Cowboy is very soft spoken and polite compared to the impatient director who’s just waiting for the point.
The Cowboy asks the director if he agrees with the idea that a man’s attitude determines the course of his life. After making sure the director is being sincere in his answer, The Cowboy tells him that he will hire the actress the studio wants. If he does good, the director will only see The Cowboy once. If he does bad, he will see The Cowboy twice. Now an important question to ask is who are these words for? Is The Cowboy talking to the director? Is he talking to Rita or Betty off screen? Perhaps, he’s talking to the audience?
You see The Cowboy two more times in the movie. The director only sees him one more time. Who is he? From first viewing he is the enforcer of the studio heads trying to intimidate the director into doing what they want. They’re cuckholding him. I saw another theory that is actually a god or the god. The director goes up a mountain like Moses to receive laws. The light only turns on when The Cowboy comes and turns off when he leaves.
The audience sees The Cowboy two more times. The movie itself is a frightening experience that leaves you wondering if the audience did bad or perhaps it was Betty/Diane that did bad? Why does he appear in Diane’s room and say “time to get up, pretty girl?”
The landlady who goes by Coco is another character that has either some supernatural power or understanding of what’s happening to Betty/Diane. Is she involved in the plot? Or maybe she has the ability to see what’s happening, but not the power to change it, hence her sympathy for Diane at the pool party. There are theories that she has apartment complex for red heads(she is also red head) and is trying to help these actresses because Hollywood only wants blondes or brunettes. There is theory that whole movie is about the attack on the red head.
The Old Couple
At the beginning of the movie when Betty arrives in LA, she sat next to old couple on the plane and got to know the lady who’s name is Irene. They part with Irene saying she hopes to see Betty on TV soon. In the next scene, you see the old couple in their limo laughing evilly. It is very creepy. It’s as if they just completed their mission in bringing Betty to her end. They are perhaps, incarnation of the decrepit old that feed on the young. There is one theory that they are actually Greek Erinyes because Irene kind of sounds like Erinyes.
This may be true. We see the old couple one more time at the end of the movie when miniature versions of them come out from underneath a hobo’s bag and invade Diane’s house. They chase her to her bedroom where she — being driven mad by their evil laughter — puts a gun to her mouth. The old couple however, don’t appear to me as Fates pulling the strings of destiny, they are minions of the big bad. They come out from the bag of the Bum behind Winkies as if set loose by the Bum.
The Bum behind Winkie’s
There is scene in beginning of the movie that doesn’t seem to fit with rest of movie. Two guys meet at Winkie’s where one of them tells of bad nightmare he had where he and his friend were at Winkie’s. The friend follows along as he plays out this dream which leads them to the back to the diner when suddenly from around the corner emerges the terrifying face of the Bum that gives the man a heart attack. Who is this Bum? Is the Bum controlling everything behind the scenes?
You don’t realize it at first, but the Bum is not a man. It’s a woman. Does she represent the total failure Betty/Diane and by extension, all who seek fame in Hollywood fear? There are theories that she’s the director or even the angel of death as she seems to appear right before someone dies. I do like to think of the Bum as a god pulling the strings behind the scenes by luring Betty to Hollywood to be drained by Rita/Camilla. Why does she do this? I don’t know, but also the way of the gods is beyond us.
Maybe the Bum is Hades coming to claim what’s his. Maybe she’s a god aiding her hero, Camilla, much in the manner the Olympians helped out their heroes along their journeys?
No one has the all answers to this movie. Those that demand the movies be explained to them will be angry at Mulholland Drive. I’m like this sometimes. The book Blood Meridian had open ended interpretation for the ending which made me irritated. The ending didn’t match how the rest of the book went along. I didn’t get the same feeling from Mulholland Drive because you know realize something is off with the movie from the get go. You’re made to understand that something is off. And the mysteries only grow from there. By the end of the movie you’re just left with despair.
Speaking of Blood Meridian, Mulholland Drive reminded me of The Judge who was also some supernatural force, a god, directing events in the book. These kind of things are missing from America I believe for a reason. They want you to be some over educated atheist, to hide the influence of gods on the happenings in America. The reason I lean toward paganism is because I see the gods as unknowable in our time. Like our cowardly elite, they are hidden and they don’t always have the noble ends we expect from gods. Perhaps some of them are like Rita/Camilla who must feed on the youth to survive. Maybe men like Cormac McCarthy and David Lynch are trying to shine a lot on these gods and their chosen elite, to show us their horrifying tranny bulge, and how they’re feeding off the power and vitality of America to survive.
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