The most exciting of this week’s new DVD/Blu-ray releases is the Criterion Collection’s immaculate edition of David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr., a gorgeous, bizarre, brilliant movie that’s been confounding audiences since its release fourteen years ago. The Movie Internet was still in its infancy then, but fans, critics, and confused novices began using boards and chat rooms to try puzzling out the picture’s many twists, symbols, and dead-ends, resulting in a surplus of Mulholland fan theories, both credible and insane. We’ve compiled our favorites—from both categories.
The first two acts are a dream/fantasy; the third is “reality.”
This is the most commonly accepted reading of a movie that inherently resists being “read.” But the biggest question for Mulholland viewers was—and always has been—exactly how the first 100 minutes and the last 40 fit together (aside from “the first 100 were what Lynch shot for the aborted TV pilot and the last 40 was what he added to make it into a movie”). It was put most succinctly in this article at Salon, which sort of became the go-to reference page for figuring out Mulholland Dr. (as much as you could):
Well, it seems that Diane had her girlfriend murdered. Then, in a masturbatory fantasy cum fever dream in the moments before she commits suicide, she reimagines her ruined career and failed relationship with the woman she loves.
The dream begins with Camilla/Rita miraculously escaping the hit Diane had taken out on her. From there, Diane, a product of Hollywood, imagines the story in cinematic fashion: She sees herself as the naive wannabe starlet Betty, who succeeds on sheer talent and solves whatever problems are thrown her way. She even gets the girl!