Before You Watch David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, Read This

“David Lynch has been working toward Mulholland Drive all of his career, and now that he’s arrived there I forgive him for Wild at Heart (1990) and even Lost Highway (1997).  At last his experiment doesn’t shatter the test tubes.  The movie is a surrealist dreamscape in the form of a Hollywood film noir, and the less sense it makes, the more we can’t stop watching it.” – Rogert Ebert, 1999, Chicago Sun Times

Mulholland Drive began life as a pilot.  When it was rejected, David Lynch added scenes and turned it into a movie.  From the moment of its release, that origin tainted it, “proving” that the movie made no sense at all.  I’ve also heard people posit that any time Lynch felt in danger of losing the audience, he just threw in some lesbian sex.  It’s his big joke, filming gibberish that leaves people talking about it even fifteen years later.

But while David Lynch has refused to offer an explanation, while insisting that it tells a coherent story, he is not about letting his audience figure it out for themselves.  And I don’t mean offering an interpretation, I mean figuring out the coherent story Lynch is referring to.

I travelled to the reservation alone to say goodbye to my Tota before she died.  In Uncle Nicky’s room, I found his movie collection.  Inside the DVD for Mulholland Drive, I found a card.

David Lynch’s 10 Clues to Unlocking Mulholland Drive:

1. Pay particular attention in the beginning of the film: at least two clues are revealed before the credits.

2. Notice appearances of the red lampshade.

3. Can you hear the title of the film that Adam Kesher is auditioning actresses for?  Is it mentioned again?

4. An accident is a terrible event… notice the location of the accident.

5. Who gives a key, and why?

6. Notice the robe, the ashtray, the coffee cup.

7. What is felt, realized, and gathered at the club Silencio?

8. Did talent alone help Camilla?

9. Note the occurrences surrounding the man behind Winkies.

10. Where is Aunt Ruth?

After reading that card, I crawled into bed and popped the DVD into my laptop.  With those clues floating somewhere in my mind, what had always been fascinating and inscrutable unfolded in front of me like a perfect piece of origami.  If you never have gotten to the core but you’ve always wondered, I highly recommend it.

And if you’ve always wondered what the fuss is about David Lynch and you want to start at midnight on Saturday at an Art Theater in Coral Gables, then you should just enjoy the ride.

What: Midnight Screening of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”

Where: Coral Gables Art Cinema

When: Saturday, May 14th, at 11:45pm

How: $7 and this list of clues in hand

Who: You, my friend.  You.

About Author

Aaron Curtis is a mixed-race member of the Akwesasne Nation, half of his mother’s Mohawk (Kanien’kehá:ka) Indian and half of his father’s Scotch-Irish. The first book Aaron read for pleasure was Stephen King's "Christine" in the third grade; he's enjoyed reading books he's not supposed to ever since. He had a monthly column at Moxxi Magazine called "Book Junky" and wrote about books (and sundries) for Miami blog collective The Heat Lightning. His essay "Past the Flesh" appeared in The Sun Sentinel's City Link Magazine, and his love-letter to Florida - "It Grows on You" - was published in World Book Night's first ebook. He has performed for Lip Service, and for WLRN's Under the Sun as part of Lip Service, five times, and his story "We Are More Than These Shells" was included in the book "Badass - Lip Service: True Stories, The Double Album" from Lominy Press. Aaron has worked at Books & Books Coral Gables since 2004.


  • Beth
    May 12, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve never seen this movie but now I want to check it out! Also, the movie poster pictured at the top would make for some really awesome and quirky home decor. :)

    • Aaron Curtis
      May 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I don’t know who designed that poster – the original is Naomi Watts’ face – but I love it. It looks like a book jacket more than a movie.

      If you do check this out, don’t try and figure it out the first time. Just watch it for the experience. Let it wash over you, like a song at Club Silencio.

  • hotpinkshrink
    May 12, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Sounds like a movie to see! This would make the perfect night out!

    • Aaron Curtis
      May 13, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      My wife doesn’t do midnight movies; they put her to sleep.

  • Priscilla Blossom
    May 12, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Oh this is freaking awesome!! I *love* David Lynch. Are there some clues for Twin Peaks and Lost Highway too because…honestly all of his stuff is mind-boggling (but that’s why we love it, right?) I’ll keep this in mind next time I watch it. Oh jeez…and now I just remembered Eraserhead. There can’t be an explanation for that one hah.

    • Aaron Curtis
      May 13, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      “Lost Highway” is my favorite Lynch. I’m sure there are theories to be found but I’d imagine you can make anything out of it, so they’re just theories. The beauty of these clues is uncovering what Lynch intended.

      Of course, either experience – what the director meant and what the watcher gets out of it – is valid.


Leave a Reply