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Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) and Mulholland Drive (2001)

An introduction by Dr Alexia Kannas, Lecturer, Media & Cinema Studies.

Lynch has cited Deren as a key inspiration throughout his career, but the relationship between her 1943 debut Meshes of the Afternoon and his 2001 film Mulholland Drive is particularly fascinating. Watching the films together you will notice obvious parallels: the quintessential surrealist symbol of the key is an important motif in both works, for instance. But beyond iconographic resemblances, these films are conjoined in their exploration of subjective experience. Lynch is notoriously unyielding whenever asked what his films are about, but if Mulholland Drive’s narrative has felt like an unsolvable Rubik’s cube, we might consider its movement in light of what Deren said about her own film: Meshes “is a film concerned with the interior experiences of an individual. It does not record an event which could be witnessed by other persons”. Although made more than fifty years apart, both films engage in this exploration of interiority within the context of an increasing sense of dread.