In Club Silencio on Mulholland Drive, David Lynch shows us the magic of cinema

Mulholland Drivelike all David Lynch films, is one that has proven to be the subject of almost endless debate and analysis, regarding everything from symbolism to characters to what exactly this is what we have just seen. Among the many memorable scenes found in Mulholland Drive, one stands out as one of the defining moments of Lynch’s filmography: Betty and Rita’s late-night visit to the surreal Club Silencio. Not only is it the highlight of the entire movie, but a closer look reveals a profound message about true movie magic.

To start, pay attention to how the scene is set up. From the first moment we set foot in Club Silenco, there’s a sense of…falsity about it, underscoring how everything we see is a performance. The on-stage magician (Richard Green) and audience are virtually motionless until Betty (Naomi Watts) and Rita (Laura Harring) are near their seats, as if the performance isn’t going to start until they arrive. Behind him is one of Lynch’s favorite patterns: bright red curtains, reminiscent of old vaudeville theaters.

This particular pattern is one that appears in almost all films by Lynch, each time linked to a certain sense of performance or to a facade: both the nightclub of blue velvet where Dorothy Valens sings and her apartment where she is forced to perform as part of Frank Booth’s psychotic roleplay; Madison’s house in lost highway, where Fred and Renee pretended to be a happily married couple both with the police and with each other; and the most famous, the red room of twin peakswhere it feels like everything and everyone is putting on a performance of a certain level, talking about half-truths and riddles that are left for us to try to interpret.

Time and again Mulholland Drive plays with this idea of ​​performances and our perception of them, constantly reminding us that there is a layer of unreality in all and that at no time should we really trust what we see. After Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) meets The Cowboy, we cut what appears Betty and Rita in the middle of an argument about Rita continuing to stay at Betty’s apartment, only for the camera to roll and reveals a script in Rita’s Hands – she actually helps Betty rehearse for an audition. Add another one layer of unreality, the script that Rita reads is actually the filming script for Mulholland Drive— the script is visible for several frames, long enough for us to see the names of the characters being played: Betty and Rita.

They end up laughing at how corny the script is, but when Betty auditions in the next scene with that same script, the intensity of her performance makes her authentic on an almost uncomfortable level. All of the dialogue in the first scene where we meet Betty after getting off the plane is clearly dubbed after the fact; and not only is the girl performing “Sixteen Reasons” clearly in lip sync to the original song, but as the camera zooms out we see that the 50s outfit and decor are just part of her audition on a bigger stage.

No. Hay. Banda! » the magician tells us, in a way that resembles a modern or postmodern theatrical performance. “The East. no. bandaged,he insists, again and again, addressing not only the public gathered in the club but the public watching Mulholland Drive. “No hay bandaged— and yet we to listen a group.” Indeed, we can to listen the instruments being named as if they were present, but the Magician tells us that all we hear is a tape recording. He continues the performance even telling us that it’s all just a recording, pantomime to the rhythm of the musical cues, but to make sure we’re not fooled, a trumpeter is brought on stage while we hear the instrument play, only for the notes to continue playing as he holds the trumpet in outstretched arms. Something else to note: the magician speaks in three different languages ​​during the show, repeating only the important lines in English, in a way that almost mirrors the way conversations in Lynch’s films tend to sound that they are pointing you in the direction of something without giving you the full picture.

Rita clings to Betty, both bathed in a strange blue light

Then, at the end of his performance, he stretches out his arms and we get another one of Lynch’s motifs, this one a bit more abstract: blue flashes that come from somewhere off camera, almost like lightning. This motif tends to appear in later Lynch films and is usually tied to transformation, transition and electricity: the two best-known appearances of this pattern are in lost highway to mark Fred’s transformation into Pete and back (and more subtly, when Alice first appears to signify Renee’s “transformation” into her) and in that scene where it marks the start of the forced Betty/Diane transition out of her dream and into her uncomfortable reality – as the lights flicker and we hear both the sound of thunder and weak, distorted voices, Betty begins to shake violently and convulse: she begins to wake up, and the part of her that wants to escape her reality isn’t taking it too kindly.

After the magician has disappeared in a cloud of smoke, we arrive at the real part of Lynch’s gamble with this scene: the night’s main act, Rebekah Del Rio, giving an absolutely heartbreaking a capella performance of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” or “Llorando” as it’s called here. Like anyone who has seen Mulholland Drive will tell you, words fail to describe how transcendent this moment is this: Del Rio sings entirely in her native Spanish, but rather than feeling obscured or unclear, it kind of has the opposite effect. You can search for the original lyrics after the fact to dissect them and see how they might reflect Betty and Rita’s story, but by the time that potential layer of analysis is stripped away and all you have is the emotion behind her vocals clearer than words ever could. It’s a performance that moves you to tears, and of course, as we go back to Betty and Rita throughout Del Rio’s performance, we see them hug each other and tear apart.

But, about halfway through her performance, Del Rio collapses on stage, but despite being carried away by the emcee (who we originally saw as the owner of the building where Adam is lying) and the man that Adam’s wife was cheating on. with, the song continues. No hay strip—there is no group—y tampoco hay cantante—and there is no singer either. It’s a moment that should not to be shocking – after all, not only did the magician repeatedly tell us that everything was a recording, but the room itself is called Club Silencio, because in the silence that would be all we would hear without the recording on tape – but Del Rio’s performance is one that’s so moving that everyone thought what we’re seeing isn’t real is going out the window.

A close up of singer Rebekah Del Rio as she appears in Mulholland Drive

In the film’s narrative, Club Silencio performs a similar function in the climax of lost highway, serving as the point where Diane’s Hollywood dream world begins to crumble and she is forced to wake up to her uncomfortable reality. We see “recycled” characters from earlier scenes in Mulholland Drive– interestingly, they both belong to Adam’s story and are never seen by Betty or Rita – and at the end of the performance, Betty pulls the mysterious blue box out of her purse and decides to open it when the two of them return to her apartment at which point the pair of them disappear and we end up at the apartment they both visited and found the body of the woman, only now is Diane, waking up from her drug-induced dream.

But the real meat of this scene is in the bigger picture: the magician is functionally a stand-in for Lynch – he reminds us time and time again that what we’re seeing isn’t real, that it’s all a tape recording, that it is an illusion. He speaks multiple languages, because we’re not supposed to focus on what he’s saying to try and get caught up in parsing the words and let the emotion of the moment engulf us. We don’t get it until after Del Rio’s performance, but what the Magician/Lynch says basically comes down to “I’ll show you a magic trick, I say I’ll show you a magic trick, I can even to tell you exactly how it’s done, but when I do, it’ll be so well done that you’ll fall for the trap anyway.

Rebekah Del Rio, collapsed on stage

He’s right, and it speaks to the real power of that scene – and what Lynch seems to be telling us is the real power of the movie: we can be told that what we see isn’t really happening, that it’s all product of someone’s imagination brought to life through actors, artists, computers and cameras, and yet when those moments strike us, the emotions they create are no less real, and the impact they have on us is one that can linger long after the show is over. It’s suspension of disbelief in its purest form, close to how the concept was. first explored by Aristotle Related for the principles of theatre: we ignore the unreality of fiction in order to experience catharsis.

Think of any number of great or memorable moments in cinematic history – the first awe-inspiring glimpse of dinosaurs in jurassic parkthe joy of seeing Woody and Buzz take flight toy storythe collective cheers of seeing Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire return to Spider-Man: No Coming Home just to name a few of my personal favorites. These moments may be fictional, but the emotions we feel about them are no less real than if they were actually happening before our very eyes. Club Silencio might spell the end of Betty/Diane’s dream of her Hollywood ending, but what we find inside speaks to a truth that goes way beyond that. Mulholland DriveThe story of: that great films have the power to move us, to inspire us, to make us feel almost…real connections with fictional people and places. It is, in the truest sense of the word, Magic.

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