Allusions in Mulholland Drive
I finally got around to watching this flick. And then I had to watch it again. My random thoughts plus some cut/pasted mythology stuff interspersed, below.
Do NOT read below if you haven’t seen it yet. Watch the movie here first: Mulholland Drive on hulu
-the audition script is what really happened – an underage teen molested by her father’s best friend. After running through it Betty says “Well there it was.” because it really happened to Diane.
-Betty is not a real person in the current year. She says “I can‘t believe it“, “now I’m in this dream place.”
-Rita passes Sunset Blvd (the protagonist in Sunset Boulevard is already dead).
-Betty/Diane is from Deep River – in myth, a river separates the Earth from the Underworld. Is Betty an angel of death come to take Camilla? Persephone’s job was to guide the dead, to help them on their journey. Betty’s last name is Elms. The Elm tree is the Tree of Dreams. The spirits of dreams roosted on the branches of an elm tree near the entrance to the Underworld. (Source: Virgil) Camilla’s last name is Rhodes. Rhode was a nymph who was a playmate of Persephone’s.
-Diane had Camilla killed. Beyond the Underworld is Lethe, where the common souls flocked to erase all memory (Rita/Camilla had no memory), and the pool of Mnemosyne (“memory”), where the initiates of the Mysteries drank (Diane’s dream seems to have memories of old Hollywood that are not hers). In folk etymology, the name Adam is associated with Hades. Adam always wears black. Hades’ weapon was a two-pronged fork, which he used to shatter anything that was in his way or not to his liking (golf club). When asked “This is Adam Kesher’s house?”, Lorraine says “Like hell it is.” Hades is associated with jewelry because he owns all the gems and precious metals in the ground. There were three gods in the Underworld, who acted as judges and presided over the souls of the dead. Of these, Minos made the final decisions. Adam was happy with the judge’s decision. Adam is a stand-in for Lynch.
-Adam repeatedly says he’s going home. This is really Diane’s thought; she is going home. Wayfaring Stranger: I’m going there to meet my Father, I’m going there no more to roam, I’m just a going over Jordan, I’m just a going over home (Jordan is a river like Styx.) Ed’s stolen book is the Book of Numbers which dealt with preparations for crossing the river Jordan. Ed also says the book is “the history of the world”. The history of the world for Greek mythology is Metamorphoses. allusion to Diane’s metamorphosis (innocent hopeful, waitress, prostitute, homeless) Herodotus, the first Greek historian, recorded the history of the world up to his own time. He was known to write in a lively manner,sometimes including stories he himself did not believe, but thinking they made his accounts more interesting (unbelievable, but that story made you laugh)
-Upon death, Camilla drank from Lethe which caused her to lose her memory and Diane drank from Mnemosyne which caused her to remember pasts. Camilla went to the mouth of the river Styx (Havenhurst). Diane was haunted by her murder of Camilla by the old evil couple (loosed by the demon). The detectives are knocking at her door; she shoots herself, drinks from the pool of memory then passes into the underworld and returns as Betty to usher Camilla to her end. She comes in through Departures at LAX because she is already departed. When Betty tells Rita she is in love with her, she is expressing Diane’s love for her. That’s why she avoids Rita/Camilla’s question “Have you done this before?” She has done it before. With Camilla! Notice Rita does not say “I love you too”; this is because Camilla is not in love with Diane.
-Rita’s possible progression – she is dead after the accident/hit. She drinks from Lethe and loses her memory. She is drawn to Havenhurst (“haven” means the mouth of a river (Styx)). Since Rita is dead, the drunk couple and the redheaded woman cannot see her. Rita carries the silver paid to kill her and the key to her future. Betty ushers her forward, handing Rita her future (a void) and Betty leaves this world when her job is done.
-Ryan Entertainment: Rian means river, way
(Eventually, Rita actually experiences all the rivers (wailing (at Havenhurst), woe (at Silencio), abhorrence (of the corpse), etc.) that you must get through in order to pass through the Underworld)
-When Mr. Roque calls to say “The girl is still missing.” He means that Rita has not yet reached the Underworld. She is at Havenhurst. Then the series of phone calls ends with the phone by the red lampshade. No-one answers. This phone is later seen to be Diane‘s.
-there’s dog crap in the Havenhurst courtyard. Cerberus’ perhaps? Coco refers to “that damn dog”. Kangaroos live down under. The demon in back of Winkies may be Charon (Charon is appallingly filthy).
-there’s lots of robes; Persephone is invariably portrayed robed. She was also the Queen of the Dead, whose name was not safe to speak aloud, who was euphemistically named. Betty is not a true name. Persephone has a dread-gaze, as does the woman in back of Winkie’s. Persephone was cheerful and innocent, as Betty is.
-Persephone and Hades love each other (love at first sight between Adam and Betty)
-Betty says Havenhurst is “unbelievable”
-Psyche was known for her great beauty. She had jealous sisters. Psyche was to go to the Underworld and ask Persephone for a bit of her beauty to put in a box. Psyche walked to a tower, deciding that the quickest way to the underworld would be to die. A voice told her a route that would allow her to enter and return still living, as well as telling her how to pass Cerberus, Charon and the other dangers of the route. Once there, Persephone (Betty) offered her a feast but Psyche refused, knowing it would keep her in the underworld forever (No-one eats at the dinner party except Coco; the prostitute refuses to eat “here”). Psyche (Rita) decided to open the box and take a little bit of the beauty for herself. Inside was a “Stygian sleep” which overtook her.
-Coco Lenoix eats walnuts; Lenoix means walnut or dark. (CocoNUT) Nut is the mother of the god of the underworld (Osiris). Coco: possibly Hecate the Greek goddess of fertility (Coco is a mother) who was associated with Persephone and protector of witches (Louise Bonner)
-Louise Bonner is psychic; Bonheur means fortune. Tiresius is a blind seer who has one foot in the Underworld and one in this world; one foot in the present and one in the future. Tiresius became a woman. Tiresius’ fortune telling is not clear as to whether something happened in the past, present or the future; but she is never wrong. (although Coco says Louise is sometimes wrong (??))
-The cowboy is Hermes. Hermes is the god of cow-herds; he’s a cattle-driver and the bringer of dreams. Hermes drives Persephone from the Underworld to our world in a chariot (“I’m driving this buggy”). Persephone spends part of her time in the Underworld and part in our world. That’s why the cowboy wakes Diane – bringing her from the dream world to the real world. Hermes also served as an escort for the newly dead to help them find their way to the Underworld. He’s also the god of persuasion, and ultimately persuades Adam to cast the girl.
-The real world bleeds into Diane’s dream in real-time:
Dan, Dan, are you allright? (Diane, Diane, are you allright?)
phone ringing, knocks at the door, the sleeping Diane hears her answering machine message play when Betty calls.
Betty convulses at the moment of Diane’s death, we hear her last heart beat and the magician disappears. Betty never speaks again.
-Silence (Silencio) reigns in the Underworld as the dead only whisper. Hades has blue hair.
-Adam is “recasting”, because Camilla is already dead. Diane says of Camilla “This is the girl”. Adam says of “Camilla Rhodes”, “There’s no way that girl is in my movie.” and “That girl is not in my film.” Because Camilla is dead, she cannot be in the film.
-Lorraine (from Lothar -> Lothario (meaning lady-killer), from the book “The Fair Penitent”): Aphrodite was a cheating wife; she loved Adonis who represents the cycle of death (Gene Clean is a solvent that destroys DNA). Aphrodite was a ‘man killer’, ‘gravedigger’, ‘the unholy’, ‘she upon the tombs’ and, above all, Pasiphaessa, ‘the far shining’ queen of the underworld.
-Cynthia means Artemis who is present at night and a virgin (Cynthia talks to Adam at night and can’t get laid.)
-Winkie’s=Winken,Blinken and Nod; poem about dreaming
-it’s like The Wizard of Oz in that real elements of Diane’s life turn up in her dream
-the hitman’s first victim says the accident is “unreal”; the hitman says it’s “unbelievable”
-When the hitman asks Diane if this is what she really wants, she says yes, more than anything in this world. This implies other worlds (like an Underworld).
-Diane’s possible progression: gets some money as an inheritance from an aunt, comes from Canada to LA to be a star, loses an audition to Camilla, becomes Camilla’s girlfriend and Camilla helps her to get bit parts. Camilla dumps her for a wealthy director, Diane becomes a waitress at Winkie’s, Diane becomes a prostitute, then homeless (the homeless woman in back of Winkie‘s has Diane‘s box (seen in her drawer next to the gun). 7 incarnations: Diane, Betty, the corpse, the waitress, the prostitute, the demon, the blonde Camilla Rhodes
-Rita cannot act; Camilla can
-Ruth’s possible progression: Wins a jitterbug contest in Canada, goes to Hollywood, loses the big role in the Sylvia North Story, loses the girl (Aunt Ruth is unmarried), waits tables (Diane tries to avoid the question of what Ruth did for work), commits suicide (that’s why she’s dead). Ruth spoke to Louise from the grave; Louise is asking Coco to shoo a ghost from her room. Ruth is in the Underworld. Since, in Diane’s “dream“, both Betty and Coco are not current people, they are able to communicate with Ruth on the phone. 7 incarnations: Ruth, Linney, Sierra Bonita redhead, jitterbugger, redhead at LAX, Gilda, who is #7? Rebekah Del Rio?
-When the magician says “it‘s an illusion“, he means everything up to that point in the movie is not real.
-Both Lorraine and Cynthia are very surprised that Adam goes home. Lorraine tells him “Damn you Adam.” She casts him out and damns him. She says “He’s never coming back, ever.”
-When told he’s broke, Adam says “That’s unbelievable.” It’s actually Diane who is broke, because she paid for the hit. It’s Diane (not Adam) who has people looking for her and they know where to find her — the detectives. The cowboy is also really talking to Diane. We see the cowboy twice more because Diane did bad.
-When Betty says “My name’s Betty.”, Louise says “No it’s not.” (because Betty is the waitress’ name)
-Linney tells Betty there’s a project she will “kill”. (Because Betty/Diane is a killer – she killed the project because Diane had the leading lady killed.) Linney says she and her assistant are catty, “we love actors, all actors”. The feline goddess Bastet (mentioned in the Book of the Dead) was associated with fertility, motherhood, grace and beauty. It was believed that the goddess Bastet watched over the souls of the dead. There were two guardian gate keeper lions of the underworld who were named Sef and Tuau meaning ‘yesterday’ and ‘tomorrow’ Ancient texts indicate they had a somewhat threatening nature.
-Aker is a lion god (Jimmy KATZ). He guarded the gate of the dawn through which the sun god emerged every morning. He was a healer (tell me where it hurts). Aker was the god who opened up the earth’s gate for kings to pass into the underworld.
-“just tell me where it hurts baby” (a reference to Chad Everett’s fame for playing a tv dr.) “What?”, replies Naomi; she’s too young to get the joke.
-blonde BETTY Grable (her married name is JAMES), is in Inglewood PARK Cemetery. So is Hoot Gibson:
Linney JAMES: “knock it out of the PARK” Adam stays at the PARK Hotel. Hollywood Memorial PARK is adjacent to Paramount. (There is a statue of Cupid and Psyche there.) Linney is taking Betty “across” from Paramount to see Adam. Rita points to Paramount on the map. David O. SELznick and Samuel GoldWYN (Diane SELWYN) are at Forest Lawn Memorial PARK
Wally Brown (Walter Wanger), Sylvia North (Sylvia Sidney who once played a character named Linda Brown (Linney Brown James), a young lady who was fascinated by older men) Sydney: “Paramount paid me by the tear”, “Hollywood! It’s like an old chair – if it’s useful, keep it; if not, give it to Goodwill.”, “What’s the use of talking about a favorite role if you can’t get it…The role you’re doing ought to be your favorite. If you don’t like a part it’s probably because you’ve a feeling of inadequacy about it.”
-we don’t actually hear Diane order a hit; we don’t actually hear Adam announce an engagement, Roque doesn‘t actually order the film shut down.
-there’s lots of old baggage shown
-the word “world” is used often as well as “dream”, “see”, “name”, “sorry”, “someone else“, “unbelievable”
-certain dead are unable to part from the land of the living
-the Underworld is the unseen world
-Morpheus (Dreams) can come and go freely to the Underworld
-The jitterbug contest is taking place in the 1940’s. The winner is probably the redhead (Ruth).
–Adam is auditioning actresses for Sylvia North’s story. At the dinner party, Diane says she lost this role to Camilla.
-The accident takes place at Mulholland Drive near Adam’s house, where Diane found out about Camilla and Adam‘s plans at the dinner party.
-Coco gives a key to Betty because she says Betty and her aunt have “an understanding”. The hitman leaves a blue key for Diane to indicate that Camilla is dead. Rita finds a blue key in her purse.
-When the neighbor took back her piano ashtray, the blue key (signifying that Camilla has been killed) was next to it and Diane was wearing a white robe — a faded version of Betty’s.
–the “man” behind Winkies is like Persephone — the guy who dreams about him dies from looking at him. He has the box from which the devilish couple emerge. His face is seen after Diane shoots herself, and fades to Betty‘s face.
-the redheaded woman hears the box drop to the floor in her bedroom. She is dressed exactly as she is dressed when she grabs her keys. She left in the cab after Rita opened the box. A premonition? Or is the redheaded woman a ghostly loop. Persephone’s virgin aunt, Hestia, is the goddess of fire (redhead); she represents happiness and hospitality. “Ruth” means remorse.
-Ruth’s body is in the heavy luggage that her cabbie loads into the trunk. Those are not her house keys she grabs, she needs to bring the keys to the Underworld with her to gain entry. Havenhurst is the mouth of the river Styx (all the great ones have been through here); as Ruth leaves for the Underworld, Rita arrives. Betty/Diane and Camilla also have the keys to the Underworld. Joe is Thanatos (Death). Thanatos appears at the very moment of death. Just before Joe kills, he has only one blue eye (blue smoke and red fire at the death scenes). Thanatos is overseen by Hermes (Joe says he’s working for “this guy”, the cowboy.) Joe laughs when Diane asks what the key opens. Rita needed to bring the money with her, because Charon won’t ferry you to the Underworld, if you don’t pay him.
So I guess what I am saying is that the first part of the movie is not JUST a dream. These things are actually happening on some level in some place. Especially when you consider that Morpheus (Dreams) can come and go freely from the Underworld and that the Underworld is the unseen world..
Stuff other people on the net noticed:
The coffee cup is from Winkies.
Irene and her companion represent the Erinyes (the Furies; the Erinyes are from the Underworld and avenge homicides)
“O” and “D” are highlighted in the beginning shot of the HOLLYWOOD sign
The poster says “There never was a woman like Gilda.”
it says “Hell” on the lamppost
the demon has a pop top; Betty likes Coke
There are similarities to Angel Heart, another great flick on a similar theme. Also to Alice in Wonderland.
This guy has an interesting take on it: