Watch: Explore The Eerie Manipulations In David Lynch's 'Mulholland Drive'

A good director is also a master manipulator. I mean this in the sincerest sense of the word; it’s their job to entrance and entice the viewer to not only stick around for the entire duration of a film, but to long for each upcoming scene as if it’s the last. Many filmmakers are keen on using light, closeups (or other shots), or even specific music to manipulate their audiences, but then, in a class of his own, there’s David Lynch.

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Lynch certainly uses eerie sounds and the infamous shot of moving highway to keep you engaged (and terrified), but in addition to physical tools, in this case, he uses expectation to manipulate his audience. In “Mulholland Drive,” the tone starts off trite and two-dimensional; young Betty (Naomi Watts) has arrived in Los Angeles from the midwest to pursue her actorly dreams. The conversation Betty has at the airport is dubbed so that we are further enraptured by this young woman’s naïveté and vulnerability, cheering her on without really knowing why. And she remains in that light until we see her first real audition.

In a new video essay from The Nerdwriter, he goes in depth exploring the audition scene which, for those of you who haven’t seen the movie, occurs about halfway through the film. Betty enters a mundane room full of bronzed executives and stiff costars, only to lunge into a bewitching, unforgettable reading, oozing with raw emotion. This is Lynch’s deceptive nature at his finest; he has set up this unsophisticated world (Betty and Rita, played by Laura Harring, even read through the audition script in an earlier scene, laughing and poking fun) completely absent of depth, only to pull the vulnerability trigger and shoot the viewer into a cataclysm of nothingness. Who else could get away with such a feat?

By destabilizing our expectations, Lynch personalizes the film-watching experience; we are unprepared and susceptible, forced into believing the opposite of what we previously imagined, falling further into his lucid dream.

For any Lynch fan, The Nerdwriter’s insight here is noteworthy. Take a look above and let us know what you think in the comments below.