Q. But audiences have struggled with trying to work the movie out and, at a certain point, they just want you to tell them what it all means—to you.
A. Yeah, and I always say the same thing: I think they really know for themselves what it’s about. I think that intuition—the detective in us—puts things together in a way that makes sense for us. They say intuition gives you an inner knowing, but the weird thing about inner knowing is that it’s really hard to communicate that to someone else. As soon as you try, you realize that you don’t have the words, or the ability to say that inner knowing to your friend. But you still know it! It’s really frustrating. I think you can’t communicate it because the knowing is too beautifully abstract. And yet poets can catch an abstraction in words and give you a feeling that you can’t get any other way.
I think people know what Mulholland Dr. is to them, but they don’t trust it. They want to have someone else tell them. I love people analyzing it, but they don’t need me to help them out. That’s the beautiful thing, to figure things out as a detective. Telling them robs them of the joy of thinking it through and feeling it through and coming to a conclusion.
Q. And it doesn’t matter if that conclusion isn’t the same as yours?
A. Right, because even if you get the whole thing, there would still be some abstract elements in it that you’d have to kind of feel-think. You’d have to say, “I kind of understand that, but I don’t know exactly what it is.” Sort of. The frames are always the same on the film—it’s always the same length, and the same soundtrack is always running along it. But the experience in the room changes depending on the audience. That’s another reason why people shouldn’t be told too much, because “knowing” putrefies that experience.