Friday, May 18, 2007

Mulholland Dr. as poem

The film Mulholland Dr. is rich thematically: it's about the loss of innocence, the corruption of the film industry, the existential hell of guilt and memory. Of course, the actual content of the film is secondary to David Lynch's trademark chaotic, random, senseless absurdity.

Or is it absurd?

When I first read a complicated poem, I occasionally have no idea what it means at all: it is simply musical sounding words. Then I'll read it again, and the substance becomes clearer. Another reading gives me further understanding of the poem's structure and subject. I can read other commentaries on the poem to brace my own insights, and further readings simply illuminate the poem further. Eventually, what was once a jumble of words becomes a precise, clear expression: not a single line, not a single word, escapes understanding or interpretation.

That is how I feel about Mulholland Dr. Eventually, it is not chaotic or random at all. Eventually, nearly everything in the film makes a certain sense (or at least can be fit into a comprehensive interpretation). What begins as Absurdity becomes a film that seems obtuse but actually fits together a little too precisely.


  1. Do you think this is true of most Absurdism?

  2. Maybe. I have read pretty coherent and comprehensive interpretations of Absurdist dramas like "Waiting for Godot" and "The Dumb Waiter." It could be, too, that literary critics are fixated on making sensible meaning out of what they read.

  3. They might, which might contradict the basic theme of absurdism, that life may have no meaning.

    But I like the process you describe in watching Mulholland Dr. compared to understanding a poems meaning. It seems to take the work of art on it's own terms, rather than apply your terms to the art.