Feed on

Mulholland Dr. has spurred numerous conversations since we saw the movie that have got me thinking more and more about the genius of this movie. I’ve always been a David Lynch fan (Blue Velvet is one of my favorite movies of all time) and had never successfully made it through the film before our screening, hence, I had never known that the “twist” was going to occur. This film, more than others we’ve seen, has led to many many conversations, and I was thinking about why that is. Why does Mulholland Dr. seem to elicit discussion and conversation days, and probably weeks after its initial viewing? And what are these conversations about?

For me, the conversations were not about interpreting the movie or comprehending the movie, but way more consistently about the experience of viewing the movie and and the question of “How it made me feel?” Once the blue box was opened and we, the spectator, were out of the “dream” world, I was so disoriented by that point that I gave up interpreting and comprehending; I just began experiencing. Since the fabula and syuzhet became incomprehensible, I think that my mind shifted towards an awareness of Bordwell’s notion of style and particularly how this style evoked an emotional response from me so rare, it seems, in contemporary Hollywood films of the present.

I want to talk about my emotional response to the “Winkies” sequence towards the beginning of the film because I feel like that unravels some of issues I want to get at. If I were to rank the scariest moments I’ve had while watching a film, this would rank in the top 5, without a doubt. Why is this moment so scary? The framing narrative about the dream (which cued me to that fact that when the man walked behind Winkies, he was certainly going to see the figure in his nightmares), the pacing, the POV shots, and the inevitability of the homeless-nightmare man sliding out from behind the wall. I also think this moment scared me so much upon first viewing because the film is not a horror film, so all of the schemata and extra-textual knowledge that a spectator comes with is absent. You are not expecting the fright. Think of it in another way: In “The Sixth Sense,” we are taught, from the beginning of the movie, that we are meant to be frightened, and that we’re dealing with death and ghosts, etc… Jumps and bumps and scares are expected. But its not the same way with Mulholland Drive.

My natural inclination upon leaving the screening was to find answers, you know, sort out in my head what actually happened in that movie, and I did find answers. But after having discussions with fellow classmates, why is there such an urge to comprehend the incomprehensible? What has stuck with me the most from this movie are two things: 1) images, details, and very small things that strike me in a way that cannot be described by words. I’m talking about Roland Barthes’ “Third Meaning” or the Impressionist’s notion of Photogenie. That undefinable, mysterious feeling that certain filmic images evoke in a viewer, but a feeling that our language cannot sufficiently explain. For example, ever since the movie, I’ve been thinking about the sequence where the guy spits out his espresso into a napkin. Just something about that sequence transcends the film in a way I can’t explain; you know, I recognize it by negation; my inability to describe it highlights its presence. I found myself feeling this way quite a few times during the film. 2) The second thing that sticks with me still is the overall emotional response I had to the film. I don’t feel like I need to fully comprehend the film, or need to interpret the film to look for meaning; I just need to (as cliche as it sounds) feel the movie and experience it. I found that I was able to separate myself from the fabula and syuzhet and solely let the style guide my experience and guide my emotional responses, and I don’t think that happens a lot. I’m interested to hear if anybody else had similar emotional experiences or if they experienced the film differently that I.

Leave a Reply

Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.