Dune & Mulholland Dr.: The Key to David Lynch


The Trylon microcinema is proud to continue the Surreal Marvel: David Lynch series with two of the director’s most talked about films: his sole big-budget epic, Dune, and the mysterious Mulholland Dr.

Review of Mulholland Dr. review by Trylon volunteer David Berglund.

For many, David Lynch’s surrealist films present disorienting and unpleasant experiences.  The same disjointed narratives, oblong character motivations, and odd tonal shifts that serve to excite his fans also generally confuse and alienate much of the viewing public.  As a surrealist, he is an artist who is committed to his dark visions and all they entail, and the nightmarish bent of these films creates a spontaneity that is both intriguing and disturbing.

Mulholland Dr. represents something of an answer to Lynch’s naysayers.  It is as if he heard people say too many times of his films, “That didn’t make any sense!” and replied with, “Au contraire, it made perfect sense – you were simply watching it wrong.”  With Mulholland Dr., Lynch not only crafts a thoroughly cinematic masterpiece of mood and desire, but provides a key with which to process all Lynchian viewing experiences.

To put it simply, there is a moment in Mulholland Dr. which is unique to any of Lynch’s surrealist films – a moment in which the protagonist awakes.  By splitting the narrative between dream and reality, Lynch reveals a logic in his film that beforehand went unnoticed.  While reality proves to be in many ways as confounding as dream, it is how the world outside of dream informs previous oddities that serves as our guide.

To cite one small example, there is a moment early in the movie in which the story digresses to the subplot of an inept hit man who badly botches a job.  There seems to be no logical reason for this scene to exist.  Yet, when we are taken out of the dream world, we see that in this new context which birthed the old, the thought of a hit man is a source of great anxiety.

After Mulholland Dr., I never watched a Lynch nightmare in the same way.  I once tried in vain to find ideological and thematic connections – this is, after all, a strong suit of Bunuel’s surrealism.  But Lynch is not Bunuel.  He is far more humanistic.  So now I simply ask, “Who would be having this dream, and what does this tell us about this person’s psyche?”  Usually, I can come to a pretty strong conclusion.

Of course, this is not to say that every piece of Mulholland Dr., or any other of Lynch’s offerings, makes perfect sense – after all, dreams rarely do.  In that regard, while still providing a key, this film does not fall into the trap of tidy conclusions and wrapped up loose ends, but like the rest of Lynch’s surrealist offerings, remains committed to providing truly unadulterated, weird as we all know they really are, dreamscapes.

David Berglund is a proud Longfellow resident and ardent cinema junkie who previously wrote on film with his wife, Chelsea Berglund, on their Movie Matrimony blog.

Dune screens Friday and Saturday at 7:00 and Sunday at 5:00–purchase tickets here. Mulholland Dr. screens Friday and Saturday at 9:30 and Sunday at 7:30–purchase tickets here.

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