Mulholland Drive, the 2001 neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch, is regarded by many as one of the greatest films ever made.
Starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux and more, Mulholland Drive tells the story of an aspiring actress newly arrived in Los Angeles who meets a woman with memory loss after wandering away physically unharmed by a car accident.
Filmed predominantly in 1999 with the initial plan of making a TV series, Lynch suffered a setback when a number of high-profile television executives rejected the initial ‘pilot’. However, this distraction pushed Lynch to take his plans a step further, developing a set ending to the project and thus turning it into a feature film.
Neil Roberts once told The Guardian: “This wasn’t meant to be a feature film to start with, you know, and with , you need to be careful. Even in Twin he was making it up as he went along. The important thing is that you are still talking about the film three days after you saw it. We should be careful not to let all this analysis detract from a fantastic film.”
The film is regarded by many as some of Lynch’s finest work. His now iconic style built in the likes of Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks which pre-dated this project, come to a head in Mulholland Drive with emphatic effect. It was Lynch’s desire and meticulous attention to detail that pushed the boundaries of visual art in cinema.
“I remember David walking on the set, and seeing that the bed cover was white, and shouting, ‘Can we get some mood in here?’” Laura Harring once said in an interview with Another Mag. “One day, I was wearing a flower in this pinstripe Gucci suit I had on and he said, ‘Laura, stay right there! Remind me of this moment’” she added.
As Roberts described, while Lynch’s with meticulous yet edgy ease, it’s easy to forget that the filmmaker is also a prolific artist who reacts to feeling, to emotion and to other sources of inspiration.
It is this attention to detail that earned Lynch an Academy Award nomination for Best Director and, on top of that, a victory at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival by receiving the Prix de la mise en scène award.
Mulholland Drive is etched into cinema history. Not only did it launch the career of Laura Harring, boost Naomi Watts to Hollywood stardom, but it is now known as the last feature film to star veteran Hollywood actress Ann Miller—a significance Lynch can hold on to dearly.
The film is shrouded in mystery with never-ending theories around the symbolism or meaning of the film. Typically, Lynch has never allowed himself to be drawn into these conversations, leaving the debate to be open-ended and left to the viewer’s own interpretation. “One night, I sat down, the ideas came in, and it was a most beautiful experience,” Lynch once said. “Everything was seen from a different angle… Now, looking back, I see that [the film] always wanted to be this way.”
Enjoy a few images from the making of Mulholland Drive:
(Images via Cinephilia Beyond)