20 Oct 2010

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Like word by word we expect an idea to be finally explained and revealed, a scene by scene we also expect to reach the closure in “Mulholland Drive (Lynch, David; 2001). But as film reviewer Roger Ebert marks, “The movie is hypnotic; we're drawn along as if one thing leads to another--but nothing leads anywhere” . This quote, as the film itself illustrates one of the main postmodernist points.

According to author of New Ways of Seeing the World, Christopher Butler, one of the key ideas of postmodernism is, that truth as we know it is fiction at the same time and understanding as well is a form of misunderstanding.

Simply because nothing can reflect the truth or explain the reality. The author argues that even language itself fails to explain reality, because of its encapsulated system. One word is described by other words, the language uses itself to explain itself and doesn’t quite relate to the external reality in a way expected. Therefore, it is another  system, which also fails to explain the reality or reflect the truth.  

So if there are no universal truths (because there’s no system that could explain it), the postmodernist thought is that everything is only relative and depended on the standpoint we choose , that all is only interpretations.

It could be said then, reality at the same time as well has  a lot of qualities of a dream, where nothing is absolutely clear, all is loose and dependant.

Likewise in Mulholland Drive,  the depicted “reality” soon starts feeling bizarre, surreal  and a viewer questions if this is not only a dream he’s watching.  “Like real dreams, it does not explain, does not complete its sequences, lingers over what it finds fascinating, and dismisses unpromising plotlines” (Ebert; 2001)

Postmodern man therefore no longer seeks for a unified truth, so doesn’t this film: “This movie doesn't feel incomplete because it could never be complete--closure is not a goal” (Ebert, 2001).


  1. GREAT, Jolanta! Your intellectual grasp of the 'Big' ideas that swim and surface in Mulholland Drive is made absolutely clear by this review. Here, you manage to encompass the nuts and bolts of the Derrida 'virus' (language as unstable and ultimately imprecise tool for describing ideas). I'm very confident that you 'get this' - your essay is going to ROCK!!! :-)

  2. Hopefully that is.. :) By the way, Tod was right, these lectures are the most interesting we've ever had