Mulholland Drive Blu-ray Review
PictureMulholland Drive comes to UK Region-B locked Blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. As I’ve detailed in the main body the film’s origins are twofold, and the TV-based material – whilst almost indiscernible – does have a slightly softer touch to it, with less prominent colours too. Still, it would be difficult to regard any of what you see here as unintentional on the part of the Director as he probably wanted the film to look soft and diffuse, particularly given the dream content. There is a fine layer of grain, required to retain that filmic feel, there are no processing issues or noticeable signs of edge enhancement.
Detail – when it is supposed to be – is simply unparalleled. You may not believe this to be the case at first glance, but check out the scene in Club Silencio towards the end – the detail on the singer’s face is astounding: hair, makeup, tone – it all looks amazing. This is simply not the kind of material that one would expect to come across as flawless, and it will certainly never make for a showcase for your home cinema equipment, but it is nevertheless a near-perfect representation of Lynch’s vision. The colour scheme is well rendered, without any bleeding, and blacks are remarkably strong and potent, with shadow detail strong and sustained. If there was one quibble – and it is arguably not in respect of the presentation, but of Lynch’s filmwork – the picture is strikingly dark, and very difficult to watch unless in a reasonably dark room. Still, this video rendition holds up to close observation even under these extreme conditions.
SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is definitely designed to attack the lower end of your aural spectrum. Sure, the dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, and is neatly sandwiched across the frontal array, and yes we do get a few noticeable effects – but again you have to keep in mind the source of much of the material here – like traffic noises, coffee percolating and even the odd gunshot; but the score is what you really come here for. Sure, it may not be as noisy or in-your-face as something like Shutter Island, but it is ridiculously potent, growling away in the background and bristling to the fore when you least expect it, rumbling around beneath you as if the whole screen is going to explode from the tension that it is creating. Apparently Lynch even requested that cinemas turn the volume up by a few dB when playing this movie – so he was obviously intent on driving you near insane with his potent, oppressive mix. Frankly, aside from the standard synth riffs that long-time composer-collaborator Angelo Badalamenti has favoured for much of Lynch’s work, this is a truly seminal piece of work, unlike any conventional score and almost designed to take place all within the bowels of your sound system – i.e. that LFE channel that here gets constant use. Unnerving, and superb.
ExtrasIt’s worth noting that the scene selection option on the disc is rather strange. At the behest of Lynch himself, the movie plays as one single chapter, and it is impossible to skip through it other than by using the fast-forward function. If you go to the scene selection it offers you the chance to take a random leap into the film, which may put you anywhere during the runtime. Whilst this kind of fits in with Lynch’s style, and is a nice gimmick, frankly – in this modern day – it is quite frustrating not to be able to skip back and forth with ease: especially when dealing with a film as (almost) incomprehensibly non-linear as this. Ah well, it’s a minor dig, now on to the good stuff...
First up we get a 10 minute Introduction by Director Thierry Jousse (in French with subtitles) where he discusses the film’s production history – how it was never made into a series – and how the French funded it’s transition to the Big Screen, Lynch’s influences (from Bergman to Hitchcock – both of which can be seen directly in scenes in the movie), his take on the darker side of Hollywood, and his evasiveness over the possible interpretations of the film.
In the Blue Box
This retrospective documentary takes 28 minutes to offer up numerous varied (predominantly from French Directors) opinions on the movie and its story. It’s a comprehensive compilation of reflections not only on the movie, but also on Lynch’s style and body of work as a whole, and for those prepared to sustain reading the subtitles for the duration of the length interviews, it is well worth investigating.
On the Road to Mulholland Drive
This is the original 24 minute Making-Of Documentary made closer to the year of the production itself (and thus primarily of fairly sub-standard SD-quality), with on-set interviews and post-production snippets discussing the work. Lynch is on hand to explain, vaguely, his work, as well as the main cast members (Naomi Watts and Laura Harring), and they discuss the original TV pilot set-up and how it went in the direction of a movie. Even the final film footage clips appear to be relevant (what limited footage there is) and directly related to the comments that we hear. It’s a nice original production Featurette, and well worth exploring to get a feel for the immediate take that many had on both the shooting and the end result.
We also get several Interviews: the ones with Mary Sweeney and Composer Angelo Badalamenti were featured on previous releases, but here we get a new, Audio-Only Interview with Badalamenti, recorded 10 years on. Unfortunately, unless you’re a massive fan of the composer’s words, this can be a little tedious, with him mainly reflecting on his inspirations and his work, as a whole, rather than focussing on this particular project.
Back to Mulholland Drive
Arguably the most interesting extra is the newly-created 24-minute Featurette that has a French film expert explain (again in French, with subtitles) the entire narrative, showing key scenes chronologically, and putting his theories to proof using Lynch’s own set of 10 clues (which were provided after the movie’s release). This is perhaps the most important extra to many viewers since – as is reflected in the opening comment from a fan “I’ve seen the movie 26 times. Every time I see it I understand the movie a little bit less.” – the narrative can be quite tough to get to grips with. Well worth checking out to finally understand this intricate, elaborate maze-like masterpiece.
VerdictEndlessly frustrating but also infinitely rewarding, Mulholland Drive is certainly my favourite film in master auteur David 'Twin Peaks' Lynch's resume. It paints a dark, unsettling and often nightmarish picture of dashed hope and unrequited love deep within the seedy, rotten-to-the-core underbelly of the vast Hollywood machine. Beautifully acted, mesmirisingly constructed, with superior visuals, abstract imagery and a haunting, oppressive score, the convoluted production history (which basically saw this film come into existence as a bastardised combination of a TV pilot and a bunch of newly-commissioned scenes filmed 2 years later) only adds to the flavour on offer, enhancing that strange, uneasy feeling that something is far from right in this existential Lynchian world. Riding the fine line between sanity and madness, dreams and nightmares, illusions and reality, Mulholland Drive will likely leave you with far more questions that you could ever hope to answer, but will also hopefully make you happy that you were simply able to go along for the ride. Because ultimately, that's what it is all about.
On Region B-locked Blu-ray we get excellent video, oppressive, powerful audio and a hefty selection of comprehensive extras that not only reveal much of the sordid production history, but also go some way towards helping you solve this elaborate mystery. Fans should not hesitate in picking up this release – it’s a beautiful package – and newcomers who know little about the movie, or about Lynch’s work in general, should consider this sexy, dark and powerful tour de force a perfect place to start. Highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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