The "Diane's dream" explanation makes sense at first, but it really breaks down for me when I start to think it through. It seems to leave many more loose ends.
Under this theory, why is so much of the film about Betty helping Rita find her identity? Why does she go through all of that in such a knowing way, giving Rita a few potent glimpses of Diane, pointing out the "Diane" nametag? Is this all misdirection by the film? Why does Betty clearly know so much, if this is just her delusional dream?
I also don't think this "dream" does much of anything to alleviate Diane's guilt. The casting conspiracy etc. shifts blame away from Rita, not Diane. I could be forgetting or missing something, but I'm not aware of anything in the dream that would actually assuage Diane's guilt. Whereas there's a long list of things that would assuage Rita's guilt.
I suppose the "dream" itself (that she's helping Rita etc.) could alleviate Diane's guilt, but there's not much internal detail supporting that sentiment. What is supposedly Diane's dream is filled with so much content that has so little to do with Diane's guilt.
I think we should also consider that "Diane's guilt" is a lot more complex than that. It might even be more heartbrokenness and depression than guilt.
It seems that the real imperative (supported by the bulk of the narrative) is to fix Camilla's broken situation, to right that wrong in a practical and meaningful way.
If it's all Diane's dream, why would Diane disappear at the point of Rita's self-actualization? It would be very hard to convince me that we're still in "Diane's dream" at that point.
Finally, I think I have a problem with just how much of the film is just a dream if you adopt the conventional "Diane's dream" theory. It's kind of silly and, for me, massively less meaningful.
There are just so many problems with it for me. Why is Rita clearly dreaming within it? Rita dreams the Winkie's scene and the first conspiracy scene before Betty even arrives. From that very first time that Rita falls asleep, it's screamingly obvious that this is Rita's dream. And yet Diane's dream envelops all of that? It's just kind of dumb. What content in the film would even be outside of Diane's dream?
Hi All, noob here. Looking forward to being part of this community. Mullholland Dr. is one of my all time favorite movies and I have seen in many times.
While you have a unique and interesting interpretation, I think it is way over complicated. Lynch has stated that one half of the film is a dream (but he won't say which half) and that it has a pretty straightforward structure. That plus his 10 clues seem to clearly indicate it is Diane's dream followed by a non-chronological sequence of reality. We see her go to sleep on her bed, then see her wake up, even with the cowboy telling her it's time to wake up. All of the symbols and people in the dream can be interpreted and debated, but the structure is clear.
I think the reason Betty spends so much of the film helping Rita find her identity is very simple: it was filmed as a TV pilot and that was the main mystery. Since one of the main themes of the film is identity (how you see yourself, how others see you, how you can change identity by being an actor, or wearing a wig, etc). it works for me.
The dream is not assuaging Diane's guilt, it is letting her escape it by imagining that Camillla somehow escaped the hitmen. Have you ever had something horrible happen, like a death, and then gone to sleep and dreamed that person was still alive or that event had not happened? Only to wake up and suddenly remember that it really did? It's like that. Diane's life went horribly wrong. She didn't have the talent she imagined she did and she was chewed up by Hollywood, as so many people are. Diane's humiliation by Camilla pushed her over the edge and she had her murdered. The police were tracking her down. That's a lot to have on your conscience and sleep would be the only way to temporarily escape.
The casting conspiracy was her mind dealing with her own rejection by believing that actors were hired by a bizarre sinister network of people, not by talent. And once again, this is all from a plot that Lynch retrofitted, but it works fine for me because it is dream logic.
The dream starts to break down in Club Silencio. Betty has her perfect fantasy connection with Rita and then reality starts to seep in. The flashes, Betty convulsing and of course the emcee stating "there is no band'. It's not real, just like a movie or a recording. Or a dream.
Betty disappears first because Diane doesn't want the box (reality) to be opened. Her ideal image of Betty is gone, broken down by the impending reality of waking up. But she is still desperately holding onto Rita. I don't think Rita has any self-actualization, she is just there to open the box because it must be opened at that point. Diane is waking up. I don't understand the appearance of Aunt Ruth at that point however.
I'm not sure why you think Rita is dreaming the Winkie's scene. That seems to clearly be part of Diane's dream. The character who drops dead upon seeing the bum was in Winkie's when Diane hired the hit man, I don't think there is any more significance to him than that. The more important thing is the bum in the alley, who represents death or the evil which took place at Winkies (Diane ordering the hit). I read somewhere that the original character was supposed to be a female prostitute and was going to figure as an important character in the proposed series. I see no reason to think it is Rita's dream just because she passes out and then wakes up in a later scene. There is no transition or device to indicate she is dreaming, whereas there are very clear transitions at the beginning and end of Diane's dream. I think you are reading way more than was intended. And once again it was shot as a straightforward scene in the pilot, not with Rita having a dream in mind.
At any rate, this is a great discussion. I'm looking forward to reading a lot more in this forum.