L’oeuvre


Introduction in English

Introduction en français

Le public est plutôt jeune. L’ambiance sonore, faite de grignotements de pop-corn, de bruits d’aspirations à la paille, de froissements de papiers de bonbons et de chuchotements, est celle de toute salle de cinéma avant que les lumières ne s’éteignent.

Entre février et mars 2002, j’ai vu sept fois Mulholland Drive, chaque fois à la séance de 22 heures; cela m’a amené à fréquenter trois salles du complexe UGC avenue de la Toison d’Or à Bruxelles, le seul complexe à avoir mis Mulholland Drive à l’affiche. Je me serais bien passé des deux dernières soirées. Lors de l’avant-dernière séance la bande son était tellement faible que sans les sous-titres en français il m’eût été impossible de suivre correctement les dialogues; je réalisai à quel point dans ce film les bruits en apparence les plus anodins avaient une importance capitale. Je suis sorti de la salle, triste et furieux, et me suis dit que tous ceux qui venaient de voir le film, surtout si c’était la première fois, avaient été floués. Lors de la septième et dernière séance, à la mauvaise qualité du son s’ajoutèrent l’indolence d’un public clairsemé et l’inconfort de la salle: manque de place pour mes jambes et climatisation inexistante. Heureusement, mon enthousiasme pour Mulholland ne s’en trouva guère ébranlé. Un bon film ne devrait jamais se voir que dans une bonne salle.

Dès ma première vision de Mulholland Drive j’eus la conviction d’en avoir compris l’architecture, sinon dans toute sa complexité, du moins dans ses grandes lignes, et je griffonnai sur papier le résultat de mes cogitations. Pourtant je n’avais rien lu au sujet de ce film, je n’en connaissais même pas le titre, je savais tout juste que c’était «le dernier Lynch» et que certains en disaient du bien. La seule évocation de l’auteur de Straight Story et de la série Twin Peaks avait été suffisante pour éveiller chez moi le plus grand intérêt. Je m’étais donc rendu au cinéma avec un a priori positif. Au cours des mois qui suivirent j’eus l’occasion de voir au Musée du Cinéma de Bruxelles Eraserhead, Lost Highway, Sailor et Lula et Blue Velvet.

Dès le swing en lever de rideau, Mulholland Drive m’a emballé. J’ai passé «deux heures et demie de rêve». Un vrai coup de foudre. Au moment de quitter la salle, j’étais plein d’un bonheur que depuis longtemps je n’avais plus ressenti au cinéma, depuis, sans doute, Andrei Roublev d’Andrei Tarkovsky. Les personnes avec lesquelles j’ai voulu échanger mes premières impressions ont été fort surprises et de mon enthousiasme et de ma certitude d’y avoir trouvé quelque logique. J’essayai en vain de leur expliquer que pour l’essentiel il s’agissait d’un long monologue intérieur dans lequel toute la première partie, c’est-à-dire celle qui se termine par l’ouverture de la boîte bleue et le réveil de Diane Selwyn, était un long rêve et que, pour comprendre quelque chose, il fallait commencer par mettre cette première partie entre parenthèses et se concentrer sur la deuxième partie entièrement faite de souvenirs, qui avaient été utilisés dans le rêve…

Dans les jours qui ont suivi je me suis mis en quête des critiques dans la presse écrite. Je reçus l’aide d’Alexis, mon fils aîné (c’est lui qui m’avait fait connaître le cinéma de David Lynch). Nous n’avons, hélas, pratiquement rien trouvé, en tout cas rien d’intéressant: les articles de fond sont toujours publiés au moment de la sortie d’un film, et Mulholland Drive était à l’affiche depuis plus d’un mois.

Si dans les journaux, à la rubrique des «films à voir», les critiques lui accordaient trois à quatre étoiles, ce qu’ils en disaient se résumait ainsi: «C’est du bon Lynch, c’est-à-dire de l’excellent cinéma, mais n’essayez pas de comprendre, c’est du Lynch!» Apparemment, aucun critique ne s’était aventuré à faire un résumé de l’histoire. La plupart le classaient dans le genre thriller policier. Je ne fus pas étonné de voir une majorité de spectateurs se faire l’écho des commentaires diffusés dans la presse écrite. Dans plusieurs journaux l’article était illustré par la même photo, extraite du banquet de fiançailles dans la demeure de Kesher et montrant le baiser entre la brune Camilla Rhodes, alias Rita, et une invitée, alias la blonde Camilla Rhodes: or cette photo était accompagnée de la légende «Rita et Betty», erreur qui, je l’expliquerai, signifiait une absence totale de compréhension du film! Il est vrai, à la décharge des critiques, que Lynch refuse obstinément de raconter ses films et d’en donner les clefs. Dieu, qu’il fait bien!

Certains ont vu dans Mulholland Drive une satire du milieu hollywoodien, cela paraît évident, mais de ne pas le remarquer ne change rien à l’intérêt de ce film exceptionnel.

Mulholland Drive est un chef-d’œuvre. Tout y est admirable: l’absence de grandiloquence et d’effets spéciaux, l’art de suggérer plutôt que de montrer, le savant imbroglio du scénario et la rigueur de sa construction, les changements de rythme, l’humour, la poésie, la direction et le jeu des acteurs, la justesse et la richesse des sentiments, la complexité des rapports humains, la sobriété des décors, les lumières, la limpidité et la perfection de la photo, l’harmonie des couleurs, les angles des prises de vue, les mouvements de la caméra, la précision et la sophistication des cadrages et du montage, la qualité des voix, le choix des musiques, les ambiances sonores, les bruits si parfaitement enregistrés et leur intégration à l’image… Il est donc impératif de voir Mulholland Drive sur grand écran et dans sa version originale.

Le film est peut-être compliqué mais rien n’y est alambiqué, tout y est élégant, distingué, essentiel et divinement beau. C’est du grand art cinématographique.

Chaque interprète donne l’impression de jouer un rôle sur mesure et de donner toute la mesure de son talent. Pas un seul n’en fait trop. À aucun moment on n’a le sentiment qu’un rôle a été privilégié.

Les mouvements de caméra sont magiques et déroutants: la caméra colle littéralement aux acteurs.

Si l’on se réfère à la peinture, Lynch fait partie de ces artistes qui excellent dans l’étude de l’âme humaine, tels Masacio, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Goya, Vroubel, Toulouse-Lautrec…

Si Lynch était un dessinateur de bandes dessinées, il serait Hergé; s’il était un artiste peintre du XVIème, il serait Le Caravage; s’il était un compositeur et chef d’orchestre, il serait Gustave Mahler…

Dans ce film, tout a une signification et chaque élément, qu’il soit narratif, décoratif ou musical, s’intègre et participe à la construction de l’ensemble. Lynch est un prestidigitateur de talent, il joue cartes sur table tout en réussissant à nous bluffer à tout instant… Il nous donne tous les éléments pour comprendre. À nous de les assembler comme les morceaux d’un grand puzzle. Tout amateur de Lynch doit avoir à l’esprit la réplique: «Je ne crois pas aux coïncidences malheureuses», dite par un des policiers enquêtant sur la mort d’Andy dans Lost Highway. Ceux qui disent que c’est un labyrinthe ont tort: dans un labyrinthe, nombreuses sont les voies sans issue alors que, dans un puzzle, toutes les pièces sont indispensables à la reconstitution de l’image. Il est vrai que, même si les pièces sont à leur place, l’image reconstituée peut rester énigmatique: c’est comme pour la peinture dite non figurative, la façon d’appréhender un tableau est éminemment variable d’une personne à l’autre; c’est comme en médecine, l’identification des symptômes ne permet pas d’établir automatiquement le diagnostic de la maladie en cause.

Ceci dit, comparer ce film à un puzzle ne me satisfait pas non plus. Cela revient à gommer sa dimension discursive toute en arabesques. Au fur et à mesure que se déroule l’histoire, la signification de ce qui a déjà été vu doit être constamment réévaluée et réorientée. Nous sommes sans cesse invités à nous reporter mentalement en arrière, à percevoir d’une autre manière tel épisode passé et, par conséquent, à donner à une scène ultérieure un sens que, sans cela, elle n’aurait pas eu, cette scène ultérieure devenue autrement signifiante nous conduisant à faire une nouvelle lecture du premier épisode mentionné, et ainsi de suite…

Seul point commun entre Mulholland Drive et un certain type de thriller policier, il faut attendre la dernière scène du film pour en cerner toute la logique. J’imagine que ce film eût plu à Georges Simenon.

L’artiste peintre Paul Mak, mon père, qui était à la fois bon portraitiste, admirable caricaturiste et prodigieux miniaturiste, affirmait que rien ne lui importait plus que la construction, l’architecture d’une œuvre et l’expression des personnages. J’ai le sentiment que Lynch s’est toujours imposé les mêmes exigences.

Nombreux sont les films dont les auteurs ont eu recours aux souvenirs et même au rêve. Parmi les plus célèbres, trois d’entre eux se sont imposés à ma mémoire: La Comtesse aux pieds nus, de J.L. Mankiewicz (1954), avec Ava Gardner et Humphrey Bogart, Huit et demi de F. Fellini (1963), avec Marcello Mastroianni et Claudia Cardinale, et enfin Providence d’Alain Renais (1977), avec John Gielgud et Dirk Bogarde.
Dans le premier film, c’est au travers des souvenirs de plusieurs personnes que nous est raconté le destin tragique d’une danseuse qui, devenue star de cinéma, avait réussi à échapper à l’emprise tyrannique des producteurs mais n’avait pu échapper à une mort brutale.
Dans le deuxième film, un metteur en scène nous fait participer à ses tourments de créateur au travers de ses souvenirs et d’un rêve. La liberté d’interprétation accordée au spectateur n’est pas très éloignée de celle offerte par Lynch.
Dans Providence un écrivain souffrant d’un cancer digestif imagine, au cours d’une nuit d’insomnie, un scénario dans lequel ses proches donnent libre cours aux sentiments vrais mais inavoués que, selon lui, ils ressentent les uns vis-à-vis des autres.

Mulholland Drive est, à peu de chose près, un long monologue intérieur fait d’un rêve, où s’enchevêtrent plusieurs histoires, et de souvenirs en cascade, qui renvoient au rêve.

Lynch n’utilise pas de voix off ni de flash-back «téléphonés». Comme il l’avait déjà fait dans Lost Highway, il capte rêve et souvenirs directement dans le cerveau du personnage dont il nous raconte l’histoire.

C’est au travers du rêve et des souvenirs qu’il nous faut retrouver le parcours suivi par Diane Selwyn. Cette démarche exige de voir le film plus d’une fois. Lynch utilise tous les ressorts du rêve, le rêve n’étant jamais que le produit de souvenirs plus ou moins filtrés, déformés et «défigurés». Mulholland est un film à déguster lentement, longuement.

Il est possible que ma passion pour Mulholland Drive tienne à la personnalité de son auteur et à des affinités particulières. J’ai toujours eu un faible (et le mot est faible) pour Buster Keaton: The Cameraman (1928) est unique en son genre. Je savais que Jacques Tati, un autre génie du cinéma, admirait tout particulièrement Buster Keaton! Or, au cours d’une interview donnée dans le cadre du festival de Cannes 2002, David Lynch s’est dit redevable de divers artistes, dont Jacques Tati… J’imagine que Lynch a surtout été sensible à l’art d’utiliser les bruits de son illustre prédécesseur d’origine russe.

Existe-t-il en moi une raison plus profonde, une raison plus intime, qui m’ait amené à m’investir autant dans ce film? Le sentiment que maman, qui était artiste dramatique du temps d’Ava Gardner et de Greta Garbo, et qui a fait du théâtre et du cinéma entre 1928 et 1940 à Paris, à Berlin et à Bruxelles, n’a pas fait la carrière que j’aurais aimé qu’elle fît? Enfin, pourquoi ne pas le dire, j’ai fantasmé sur le rôle du magicien dans le Club Silencio

Irrité par tous les commentaires lus et entendus à propos de Mulholland Drive, j’ai eu l’envie d’y aller d’un petit texte de mon cru. De fil en aiguille, je me suis engagé dans un travail bien plus vaste. Le fait de disposer du DVD, version américaine, m’a poussé à approfondir mon analyse. À chaque nouvelle projection, je découvrais quelque chose de neuf, et je regardais d’un autre œil telle ou telle scène qui pourtant m’avait semblé ne plus avoir de secret. Plus d’une fois, j’ai cru ne jamais arriver au bout de mon entreprise et j’ai voulu arrêter. Tout ce qui va suivre a été prélevé au plus profond de moi-même. Je n’ai jamais «surfé sur Internet»… Mulholland Drive a occupé mon esprit des mois durant. La plupart des réponses aux questions, que je ne finissais pas de me poser, me venaient le matin aux alentours de 7 heures dans l’intervalle de temps qui sépare le maniement du blaireau et celui du rasoir; j’en discutais régulièrement avec mon fils Alexis. Je n’ai pas la prétention d’avoir trouvé «la» solution mais je suis persuadé qu’il n’en existe pas trente-six.

Dans un texte concernant la vie et l’œuvre de mon père, j’ai écrit: «Regarder un tableau, c’est comme observer un patient: il faut se garder de tout a priori, faire le vide en soi, être disponible, garder la fraîcheur de la première impression et aller au-delà de celle-ci; il faut aller à l’essentiel et en même temps ne pas sous-estimer les éléments les plus ténus. Mes nombreuses visites dans des musées et expositions m’avaient préparé à aborder l’œuvre de mon père, à la sentir du dedans…» Plus loin, pour préciser ma pensée, j’ai cité Stanislavsky: «Vous êtes par exemple devant un tableau de Vroubel ou d’un autre novateur de l’époque, et par une habitude d’acteur et de metteur en scène, vous essayez de pénétrer mentalement dans le cadre, de vous glisser au-dedans du tableau pour vous imprégner de son état d’âme et vous adapter physiquement à lui, non de l’extérieur mais de l’intérieur, pour ainsi dire du dedans de Vroubel et de ses images. Mais le contenu intérieur exprimé par le tableau est indéfinissable; vous ne pouvez consciemment le saisir, vous ne pouvez que le sentir pendant quelques brèves illuminations et à peine l’avez-vous senti qu’il vous échappe à nouveau. Pendant ces lueurs d’inspiration qui ne sont pas du domaine de la conscience, il vous semble que Vroubel entre en vous, passe par votre corps, vos muscles, vos gestes, vos attitudes et que tous ceux-ci commencent à exprimer l’essence du tableau…»* Cette réflexion de l’un des plus grands génies du théâtre à propos du regard que l’on peut porter sur une peinture exprime parfaitement la difficulté que j’eus à mettre en phrases tout ce que m’a donné Mulholland Drive.

Merci, Monsieur Lynch.

*Stanislavsky (Constantin Serguéiévitch Alexeev, 1863 – 1938), Ma Vie dans l’Art, Le Studio de la rue Povarskaia, p. 352, L’Age d’Homme, 1999, première publication en 1924 chez Little, Brown & Company à Boston.

Références

Introduction in English of the first edition

English translation by Bernard de Schietere de Lophem
The audience is rather young to the extent that it appears to me as having a lower mean age than mine. It produces the noise environment – sodas sucked to the bottom, pop corn nibbled, candy wrappings rumpled, whispers – typical of a movie theatre before the lights go off.

From February to March 2002, I have watched Mulholland Drive seven times, each time on the 10 PM performance. This allowed me to visit three auditoriums of the UGC multiplex at Avenue de la Toison d’Or in Brussels, the one and only facility locally playing (entitled to play?) the movie. I’d rather have dispensed with the two last performances. On the penultimate one the soundtrack was so weak that I had to rely on the French subtitles to catch up the dialogues. This was an opportunity for me to realize how, in addition to the music and the voices, even the apparently less significant sounds turn out to be essential. After the performance I was in a state of sadness and anger, thinking of how the public had been deceived, especially the people viewing the movie for the first time. During the seventh and last performance I attented, in addition to the poor soundtrack, I have had to undergo a scattered and careless audience as well as an uncomfortable theatre where I couldn’t extend my legs and enjoy the relief of air conditioning. Nevertheless, I was about as enthusiastic for the movie as ever. A good movie should be viewed only in a good theatre.

As soon as I have had completed my first viewing of Mulholland Drive, I was convinced to having understood the basic structure of the movie, if not all its intricacies, and I jotted my conclusions on a piece of paper.
However, I had read no review before my first viewing of the movie. I didn’t even know its title; I only knew it was “Lynch’s most recent film to date” and spoken of favourably. Knowing its director had also directed The Straight Story and the Twin Peaks series was enough to make me really interested. So I went to see the movie with a positive prejudice. (Since then I have had the opportunity to see Eraserhead, Lost Highway, Sailor and Lula, and Blue Velvet, at the Musée du Cinéma in Brussels.)

From the opening dance sequence onward, I have been captivated by Mulholland Drive. I felt as having spent two hours “in heaven”, like someone fallen in love. Leaving the theatre, I was experiencing a feeling of happiness unequalled since I had seen Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublov. The people I tried to share my first impressions with were surprised by my enthusiasm and my conviction to have found some logic in the movie. I tried to explain them to no avail that it was essentially about a long self-addressed monologue the whole first part of which – i.e. the one ending with the blue box’s opening and Diane Selwin’s awakening – was a long dream and that, in order to understand anything, it was necessary to put this first part aside, focus on the second part including only recollections, and then deal with the dream, which is also composed of recollections…

During the following days, I started looking for the reviews in the press with the help of my older son Alexis, who had introduced me to the David Lynch’s movies. To my disappointment, we found practically nothing, at least nothing interesting. The substantial reviews are always published at the time of the movies’ release and Mulholland Drive was already playing for more than a month.

When the newspapers, in their “now showing” columns, granted the movie good grades (three to four stars) , their comments could be summarized this way: “This is a Lynch’s movie as good as usual, i.e. quite above the fray, but don’t try to understand it: this is from Lynch after all!” To my knowledge, no critic ventured to offer a summary of the script. Most of them classified the movie as a thriller. Judging from the puzzled look of the detectives dispatched on the scene of the car accident at the beginning of the movie and the sight of policemen patrolling in cars on various occasions, such assumption might be justified. I haven’t been surprised to hear most of the spectators duplicating the comments published in the newspapers. In some of these papers, the review was illustrated with a picture of the diner scene in Kesher’s house where the brunette Camilla Rhodes, alias Rita, and a guest, alias the blonde Camilla Rhodes, are kissing. Now the scene’s caption was: “Rita and Betty”!!! To the critics’ credit, it must be said that Lynch is known for unvaryingly refusing to disclose the scripts of his movies or to release their keys. How right he is!

Some people have concluded that Mulholland Drive was a satire of the Hollywood film industry. Although they are obviously right, failing to notice it does not make this outstanding movie less interesting. However, it explains why the movie hasn’t collected a single Oscar!

Notwithstanding this, Lynch is a true artist, a creator: his works are intented to everyone with an open mind. He has used the Hollywood film industry’s idiosyncrasies, which he is familiar with, to show us what makes him different from these directors satisfied with some flashy moviemaking. In the meeting room of Ryan Entertainment, where other directors would have willingly portrayed the characters involved in a long conversation around a table, Lynch uses images instead of words wherever he can.

Having us witnessing Betty’s rehearsal in aunt Ruth’s kitchen, then her audition in Brown’s office, he shows us the path the actors must follow in order to express the dramatic intensity of their lines as well as the essential role the director has to assume. Then, by transferring Betty and ourselves from Brown’s tiny office to Kesher’s filming set, he shows us how moviemaking built on acting is opposed to moviemaking built on resources and points to those producers dominating the movie industry. There is a no common ground between Betty’s live performances in Wally Brown’s office and the little songs uttered by Caroline and the “Blonde Camilla Rhodes” on Kesher’s set.

I have been so surprised by the reactions of the audience that I started paying more attention to them. I could therefore determine that, from one showing to the other, they were quite similar.

During the first half of the showing, the audience is relaxed. Laughs rise always at the same times: when the redhead lady leaves and her taxi driver is carried by the weight of the suitcase he swings into his car’s trunk; when we watch the elated look of the old couple sitting in the limo that he has been waiting for them at the Los Angeles airport; when the director and the producers of a movie (one of them is a hard to please coffee connoisseur) are bickering about the main actress’ replacement; when Rita pulls one hundred-dollars notes from her purse; when a beatnik-looking character kills a man then, in his repeated and clumsy efforts to make the murder look like a suicide, is led to kill two bystanders; when Adam Kesher finds his wife in bed with an employee in charge of maintaining the swimming-pool, then is beaten and thrown out by him; when the lovers, repaid in kind, are punched by a bodyguard employed by the Castigliane brothers; when Adam Kesher, sheltered in a squalid hotel, is advised by his secretary to meet a cow-boy; when the said cowboy recommends Kesher that he “selects” the actress who has previously been suggested to him for playing the main role; when, once Betty’s audition is completed, her male partner and the producer keep speechless in awe; when young comedians dressed in clothes from the fifties compete by singing on a play-back soundtrack in order to get the main role in a film directed by Kesher, who has already selected the “blonde Camilla Rhodes” for playing that role…

From the following scene on, the laughs almost completely dwindle away, excepted for a few female laughs stealing their way out, when Rita and Betty are about to make love and the first one asks: “Is it the first time?”, and the second replies: “I don’t know”.

Puzzlement and disbelief gain ground step by step among the audience like mist on a late afternoon fall landscape. Some spectators start sighing and fidgeting in their seat: expressing impatience or irritation? When Rita inserts the key in the blue box, there is always someone volunteering for whispering with relief: “Ah, now comes the conclusion!” When Adam walks to Camilla and Diane with three cups of champagne in order to give a toast to love, something close to a shudder runs through the audience; and when Coco enters the room and Adam asks Diane whether she has ever met his mother, the shudder comes close to the boiling point. A number of spectators have obviously had enough of it. Nevertheless, I have never seen anyone leaving before the film ends.

How impressive is the leaden silence that falls in the theatre after the moonlike character has appeared for the last time in the loggia hanging over the stage of the Silencio theatre. For a long while, before the credits that have introduced the film resume, there is nothing but a pitch-black screen and a mute soundtrack. The complete quietness is hardly troubled by isolated comments such as “This really beats me!” When the lights come back in the theatre, many people stay seated; others sink in a reflective posture; others look knocked-down and glance around with disbelief; those who chat are scarce; the first ones to leave shuffle numbly out.

Out of the theatre, people start talking but they are moody and somehow upset. Most spectators I can observe are deeply puzzled. Members of parties are quietly arguing: “Who has suggested to see this movie?” “Is this the kind of stuff you like?” “Did you figure out what it was about?” “Beats me!” “Don’t you see it’s a story about a double personality?” “As for me, I was quite in step during the first half, then they lost me.” “Did you understand the meaning of this blue box?” “After all it isn’t that difficult: it’s a story about lesbians.” “And this is so true…” adds a young woman fighting her tears back.
Some spectators look like students who, after having completed a written examination, are not so sure of having understood the questions and hence do not want to elaborate on their answers.

The female audience is much less disoriented. Besides, there is invariably some woman, young or older, to express how gratified she was by the film’s beauty.

On the other side, some men express openly their irritation. “You call this a good movie, it’s inconsistent, illogical, delirious. Anything goes…” Some hurry to go home while others, feeling challenged, gather in a tavern to share their impressions and their findings in search of a “rational” solution.

After a screening, two of my friends, one of them being a consummate “cinephile”, have surprisingly declined to engage in a discussion on the movie’s architecture I had expected much of.

One day, on the third time I was going out to see the movie, as I was waiting to enter the auditorium, I saw a carefully dressed young man, possibly a student, walking out in total bewilderment, then rushing to an usher: “Have you seen the film? Did it make any sense to you? I must have missed something in the beginning. I came in at the end of the credits.” He was offered no help whatsoever. Of course the poor fellow was right. He had missed an important moment, i.e. the short scene showing the bed with the rumpled red sheets just preceding the opening credits… Although I tried to give him some clues, he was too exasperated to hear me. He went away, knocking his head with his hand and complaining: “I don’t believe it. I haven’t understood a thing. What use having a brain?” It was the first time I could witness someone experiencing such a feeling of frustration after viewing a film.

I have seen so many spectators angered by this movie, especially angered, in my opinion, because they felt, like this young man, that they have missed something and could not stand it. But why were they so upset? Was it less because they hadn’t understood the movie than because they had been deeply touched without knowing why and, above all, without finding the right words to express their feelings?

As far as I am concerned, Mulholland Drive is a masterpiece, where everything is admirable: absence of pomposity or special effects, suggestion instead of exposition, a deftly intricated and rigorously composed screenplay, changes in tempo, true and complex feelings, elaborated human relations, wit, poetry, sober set backgrounds, lights, crystalline and perfectly composed pictures, harmonized colours, filming angles, camera moves, accurate and sophisticated image centring and editing, voices range, selection of sound and musical backgrounds and their proper integration to the pictures as well as expertly recorded noises… It is therefore essential to view Mulholland Drive in the original version.

This movie may be difficult but is in no way artificial: all its components are elegant, distinguished, necessary and made in heaven. This is cinematographic art at its best.

We have the feeling that every actor plays a customized character and develops their full talent. No one overacts. We never sense that a specific character has been privileged.

Camera moves are magic and disconcerting: they closely duplicate the actors’ moves.

If we compare Lynch to painters, he is among these artists who master the human soul’s investigation, such as Masacio, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Goya, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc.

If Lynch were a comic-strip author, he would be Hergé; a sixteenth-century painter, Caravaggio; a composer and conductor, Gustav Mahler…

Everything is meaningful in this movie and every narrative, visual or musical component is integrated and necessary in the work’s architecture. A gifted magician, Lynch plays with an open set of cards while bluffing us at every turn of the game… He gives us all the materials we need to figure out an explanation. We just have to assemble them like the pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle. Those pretending the movie is a maze are wrong: In a maze, there are many dead-end paths whereas in a puzzle, all pieces are necessary to restore the picture. It is true that, even if all pieces are correctly positioned, the resulting picture may remain mysterious. As with abstract painting, the way a work is apprehended vary significantly from one viewer to the other. As in medicine, identifying the symptoms does not allow systematically to diagnose the disease that produces them.

However, I am not satisfied either with comparing this movie to a puzzle. It does not take account of the arabesque-like progression of the story. As it progressively unfurls, we must constantly reassess and update what we have already seen. We are constantly invited to think backwards, to reassess relevant previous episodes and therefore to give a later scene a meaning that otherwise it wouldn’t have had and from there go back to the initial episode we will be able to read differently to the light of the new scene’s meaning, and so on…

Mulholland Drive and a specific kind of thrillers have only this in common: you have to wait until the last scene of the movie to fully understand its logic. I guess George Simenon would have been pleased with it.

My father, the painter Paul Mak, who was a fine portraitist, an outstanding caricaturist and a prodigious miniaturist, used to say that nothing was more important to him than a work’s architecture and the characters’ expression. I figure that Lynch could make this comment too.

There are number of movies whose authors use memories or even dreams. Among the most famous, three of them came spontaneously to my mind: J.L. Mankiewicz’s The barefoot Contessa (1954) starring Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart, F. Fellini’s 8 ½ (1963) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale and finally Alain Renais’ Providence (1977) starring John Gielguld and Dirk Bogarde.
In the first one, through the silent recollections of several characters, we are told the tragic fate of a dancer turned movie star who succeeds to escape the tyrannical influence of producers only to meet a brutal death.
In the second one, a director share with us his creative torments through some memories and a dream.
In Providence a writer suffering from a stomach cancer imagines during a night of insomnia a screenplay where his family members express freely the real but repressed feelings he thinks they have with respect to one another.

Summarily described, Mulholland Drive is a long self-addressed monologue made of a dream including several stories and a flow of memories linked to the dream.

Lynch uses neither off-voices nor predictable flash-backs. As in Lost Highway, he taps their dreams and memories straight from the mind of the character whose story he is telling us.

We have to use her dream and memories to reconstruct Diane Selwyn’s journey. This a process requiring several viewings of the movie as well as hours, days or even weeks of reflection and meditation. Lynch uses all the resources of the dream, which is nothing but the products of more or less censured memories, i.e. filtered, transformed and “disfigured” to the extent that, in the dreamer’s subconscious, they express licit or transgressive desires. This a movie to savour slowly and patiently.

It is possible that I am so enthusiastic about Mulholland Drive because of this author’s personality and some personal inclinations. I always have had a soft spot – this is understatement – for Buster Keaton: The Cameraman (1928) is in a class of itself. I knew that Jacques Tati, an other cinematic genius, had a special admiration for Buster Keaton! Now, in an interview given during the 2002 Cannes festival, David Lynch acknowledged his debt to a number of artists and in particular to Jacques Tati… I guess that Lynch has specially appreciated how skilfully his illustrious predecessor from Russian ascent used noises in his movies.

Is there a deepest, more personal reason why I involved myself so much in this movie? Is it the feeling that my mother, who was a comedian contemporary with Ava Gardner and Greta Garbo, has not pursued the career I would have wished for her? She has been active on stage and in movies between 1928 and 1940 in Paris, Berlin and Brussels… And eventually why not saying it? I have fantasized about the magician’s character in the Silencio club…

Irritated by all the comments read or heard concerning Mulholland Drive, I became tempted to commit some review on my own. Step by step, I found myself involved in a much more ambitious task. This should have been foreseen since the movie is, as I have already noted, much more than the story told. With the help of an American-standard DVD, I could sharpen my analysis. On each viewing, I discovered something new urging me to look again to one scene or another from a new angle, although I was convinced it had already delivered all its secrets. On more than one occasion, thinking it was impossible to complete my project, I have been tempted to give up. The following text is an utterly personal enterprise. I have never been “surfing on the web”… Mulholland Drive was on my mind for months. Most answers to the endless questions I was asking myself were found around seven in the morning, while operating the shaving brush. My older son and I were regularly discussing them. I am not pretending to have found “the” solution but I am convinced there are no thirty-six ones.

In a text on my father’s life and artistic production, I have noted: “To look at a painting is like observing a patient. You have to ignore any bias, clear off all other preoccupations, be available, keep the first impression’s ingenuity and investigate further. You must go the core without underestimating the smallest details. My frequent visits to museums and exhibitions had prepared me to deal with my father’s works, to sense them from inside…” Further in this text, in order to make myself clearer, I have quoted Stanislavsky: “… Let us assume you are in front of a painting by Vrubel or another innovator of that period and, following an actor and stage director’s routine, you try to enter the canvas by thought, to slip inside the painting with a view to immerging yourself in its emotional content and physically adapting to it, not from the outside but from the inside, somehow from within Vrubel and his pictures. But the inner content expressed by the painting is impossible to describe; you cannot consciously conceptualize it, you can only feel it during a few short enlightenments and, as soon as you have felt it, it escapes again from you. During these moments of inspiration not related to conscience, you feel like Vrubel were entering you, going through your body, your muscles, your gestures, your postures and like these were beginning to express the painting’s essence…”* This comment by one of the greatest stage geniuses on the way a painting can be looked at reflects properly the hard time I have had to express in words everything I owe to Mulholland Drive.

Thank you Mr Lynch.

*Stanislavsky, Konstantin Sergeyevich Alekseyev (1863-1938), Ma vie dans l’Art. Le studio de la rue Povarskaia, p.352. L’Age d’Homme. 1999. First published in 1924 by Little, Brown & Company, Boston.

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