Welcome to our Colossus Movie Guide for Mulholland Drive. This guide contains everything you need to understand the movie. You’ll find a quick explanation of Mulholland Drive, as well as our library of material covering key aspects of the movie. We encourage comments to help us put together the best possible guide.
As a primer, be sure to check out David Lynch’s ten clues about Mulholland Drive. The director provided these clues as a helpful guide since the movie’s plot was so confusing.
The Quick Explanation
In the most straightforward sense, Mulholland Drive is all about the “Hollywood Dream” that is sold to aspiring actors and filmmakers. But on a deeper lever, the film is about the pressure we feel to live a life that is not our own. We are constantly told what is important and what makes life worth living, to the point where we always look forward and never remain present. Oftentimes, we chase a dream that will never be realized—a dream, ironically, we never truly wanted in the first place. We become horses chasing a carrot on a stick, fueling the larger capitalist system that surrounds us. As a result, we fail to build our own personal foundations, to create our own stories, to follow our natural narratives to happiness. David Lynch uses Hollywood as a means of exploring this mental anguish.
The plot of Mulholland Drive may seem complicated because it’s told out of order. But when you view the story chronologically, it becomes simplified: At an early age, Diane wins a dance contest and moves to Hollywood to pursue a career. But before long, she discovers her Hollywood dreams are far tougher to realize than she thought. She begins a relationship with Camilla, who quickly becomes the Hollywood star Diane wanted to be. Camilla also starts to date famous Hollywood director Adam Kesher. Overcome with rage and jealousy, Diane pays someone to murder Camilla. Following that decision, Diane is overcome with guilt and goes to sleep.
What follows is a dream sequence that makes up most of the movie. In this dream, Diane becomes Betty and Camilla becomes Rita. Throughout the dream, we see people from the real world reimagined as new people in the dream world. The entire dreamy narrative follows its own set of rules that exist outside the logic of reality, yet everything that happens in the dream ends up being a reflection of reality. Diane doesn’t want to confront the real world where she’s murdered Camilla, so she escapes into the kind of fairytale land that was sold to her as an aspiring actress. Here, Diane can help Camilla find her identity and remain alive, all while realizing the Hollywood Dream she never achieved.
But eventually, Diane has to come out of the dream. She must confront the terrible sin she’s committed; she must recognize that her Hollywood Dream wasn’t realized; she must admit that she’s in mental disarray, that she’s in need of serious help. Unequipped to process this crippling reality, Diane takes her own life. The movie then ends with a visual eulogy to Diane’s existence as she disappears into the ether like so many aspiring actors have, like so many misguided souls have before her.
- Naomi Watts – Betty Elms/Diane Selwyn
- Laura Harring – Rita/Camilla Rhodes
- Justin Theroux – Adam Kesher
- Ann Miller – Coco
- Mark Pellegrino – Joe
- Robert Forster – Detective McKnight
- Brent Briscoe – Detective Domgaard
- Dan Hedaya – Vincenzo Castigliane
- Angelo Badalamenti – Luigi Castigliane
- Michael J. Anderson – Mr. Roque
- Bonnie Aarons – Bum
- Monty Montgomery – The Cowboy
- Melissa George – Camilla Rhodes
- Billy Ray Cyrus – Gene
- Patrick Fischler – Dan
What does the title Mulholland Drive mean? What does it tell us about the movie’s intentions and storyline? Let’s figure it out.
Themes and Meaning
Discover themes that help us define Mulholland Drive’s commentary, message, and meaning.
If the ending of Mulholland Drive confused you, this explanation will help you understand everything you need to know.
Explore important motifs that indicate Mulholland Drive’s most crucial moments of symbolism.
A visual guide to Mulholland Drive.
Questions and Answers
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