April 21, 2017

Watch: Is 'Mulholland Drive' David Lynch's Most Lynchian Movie?

The much-beloved film is the only film that captures the essence of Lynch's entire body of work.

Last summer, the BBC released its list of the 21st century's 100 greatest films (so far). 177 critics from 36 different countries got together and placed David Lynch's subversive mind-bender Mulholland Drive at the number one spot. It may be the 21st century's greatest film to date, but is it David Lynch's greatest film?

If you're judging it solely based on how well it represents the hallmarks that make a David Lynch movie a David Lynch movie, then Fandor argues the answer is yes. In a video essay by Leah Singer, we get a side-by-side comparison of how each movie in Lynch's canon relates to Mulholland Drive.

While it is indeed a hard film to label with any genre, Mulholland Drive is, at its core, a mystery. Many of Lynch's other films borrow from the rules of this genre, as well as film noir and other detective-centered whodunnits. The best examples are probably Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet

But what makes Mulholland Drive peak Lynch is how well it blends his affinity for mystery with his eye for the surreal. Lynch has been dealing in the art of dream logic since Eraserhead, and all his features contain confusing, non-linear narratives in some capacity. Ultimately, the audience is left with the feeling that the film is falling apart before their eyes.

The normal outside world that we're used to is established and then thrown away as Lynch's characters discover the "haunted interior" worlds beneath. A place where shadowy creatures of the uncanny play and laugh at the normies upstairs. Again, it's a hard plot to pin down (another hallmark of Lynch's films) but this phenomenon is quite literally the basis for the plot of Mulholland Drive. "Betty" moves from a small town to the glistening wonderworld that is Hollywood, only to be sucked into a seedy, nightmarish underworld that is bubbling beneath.

What do you think? Is Mulholland Drive the most Lynchian David Lynch film? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.      

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2 Comments

I remember seeing the original release of MD in the theater... and not liking it, feeling like it was about 5 films in one. I've matured in the years hence and, now, love it. Every time I watch it, I love it more.
Not to mention, Naomi Watts' remarkable acting talent.

Yes, I'd say this is Lynch's most Lynchian film. Certainly his most well-crafted Lynchian film, in my opinion.

April 21, 2017 at 9:54AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
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Excluding ones where he fought with a studio (like Dune or Twin Peaks second season), most of his work is equally "Lynchian" since they are all personal unfiltered films by him.

Inland Empire probably best encapsulates all of his different themes and ideas he goes back to.

Eraserhead is probably his most personal film, and best encapsulates his earlier experimental period.

Mulholland Drive is probably the most polished film of his that combines his early experimental work with his later Blue Velvet/Twin Peaks/etc period. The themes and ideas are presented in a slightly more conventional way while still being mysterious, which makes the film more understandable to someone who is not always a Lynch fan. (For example, Ebert found Lost Highway incomprehensible but loved Mulholland Drive.)

But ultimately yes, I would say if one film had to be picked, Inland Empire best encapsulates all of his previous styles and themes

April 21, 2017 at 2:52PM, Edited April 21, 3:09PM

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Roger
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