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Lynch gambles on Cannes entry "Mulholland Drive"
( 2001-05-17 15:28 ) (7 )

David Lynch is taking a big risk with his weird and dream-like Cannes festival entry "Mulholland Drive", which was rejected as a TV series and has yet to find a distributor for the United States.

The man who made the legendary TV saga "Twin Peaks" and swept up the festival's Palme d'Or in 1990 for "Wild at Heart" is nothing short of a cult figure, but his latest work left the audience at Cannes deeply puzzled.

The Montana-born director gave few clues as to what the film was actually about.

"I feel that people do understand this film, but they understand it with intuition, not just with an intellectual bang, 'I get it' sort of thing," Lynch told Reuters on Wednesday.

"There are abstractions in life that people sense, they know what's going on but they can't articulate it. This is that kind of thing," he added.

In "Mulholland Drive", which starts with a car crash, an aspiring starlet named Betty helps the amnesic brunette Rita find her true identity and they eventually fall in love.

That's the main thread, but other bits of oddly unrelated stories crop up throughout, and the film spirals into an increasingly absurd and confused jumble of separate plots.

Lynch originally made "Mulholland Drive" as a TV series for ABC, which bankrolled the production. But the American network was appalled when he delivered his two-and-a-half-hour pilot -- about 90 minutes longer than expected.

ABC dropped the series and handed it over to France's StudioCanal, which gave Lynch the money to re-shape it as a film.

"ABC hated it, so it went, luckily for me, in another direction to become a feature," the 55-year-old director explained. "The idea is to be true to the stories and ideas and not veer off that path."

In a separate plot that almost saves Lynch's movie, mafia thugs try to blackmail a famous young director into casting the actress of their choice in his film.

He refuses, reluctant to compromise his artistic vision, and angrily smashes the gangsters' limousine with a golf club.

When a mafia strongman arrives at the director's Hollywood home to teach him a lesson, he is absent, and his two-timing girlfriend and her muscle bound lover get a beating instead in one of the movie's funniest sequences.

Lynch named his film after a winding road in Los Angeles that runs along the crest of the Santa Monica mountains. On one side is Hollywood, and on the other is the L.A. valley.

"It's a road that has remained the same for many years and it has many stories connected with it. It's pretty dark at night...It's a scary and mysterious road," he said.

Lynch soared to fame with the nightmarish "Eraserhead" in 1976, then won critical and box-office success with commercial pictures "Dune" and "Elephant Man".

He made an about turn in 1986 with the stunning, perverse thriller "Blue Velvet", taking the box office by storm.

Returning to Cannes for the third time, Lynch unveiled "The Straight Story" in 1999, the simple and beautiful chronicle of a stubborn senior's trip across state borders on a lawn-mower to see his estranged brother.



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