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Lentzner, J.R. Ross, D.R. (2005). The Dreams That Blister Sleep: Latent Content and Cinematic Form in Mulholland Drive. Am. Imago, 62(1):101-123.

(2005). American Imago, 62(1):101-123

The Dreams That Blister Sleep: Latent Content and Cinematic Form in Mulholland Drive

Jay R. Lentzner and Donald R. Ross

“The dreams that blister sleep boil up from the basic magic ring of myth.”

—Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces


Few motion pictures have bedazzled, confounded, or provoked viewers more than David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001). Dismissed by Rex Reed (2001) as “a load of moronic and incoherent garbage,” but hailed by Philip Lopate (2001) as “compelling, engrossing, well-directed, sexy, moving, beautiful to look at, mysterious and satisfying,” it has garnered both some of the harshest epithets and some of the most lavish praise in recent cinematic history.1

Never intended as a theatrical feature, Mulholland Drive was conceived as a television pilot, but rejected by network executives after its first screening as “too dark and too weird” (McGovern 2001). For more than a year the project languished on the brink of abandonment, but it was ultimately acquired by a French production company that enjoined Lynch to transform it into a feature motion picture. The director recalls having had no idea how to proceed. Then, in a thunderclap of epiphany, inspiration struck him: “it was a most beautiful experience.… Everything was seen from a different angle. Everything was then restructured, and we did additional shooting. Now, looking back, I see that [the film] always wanted to be this way” (Macaulay 2001).

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