Christine Lang: Aesthetic vision. Implicit Dramaturgy in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive

The detailed dramaturgical-aesthetic analysis of the film MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) shows on which traditional models the dramaturgy of the film is based and how director David Lynch varies, breaks, fragments and combines them in a new way.

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[Translate to Englisch:] Mulholland Drive, Studiocanal-Blu-ray-Disc 2017

Hardly any other film like MULHOLLAND DRIVE has generated such a debate–in academic contexts as well as in fan debates on social media. Director David Lynch's 2001 film is a film classic, but also a piece of pop culture. The ongoing lively engagement with the film is only partly based on the thrilling story about an aspiring actress in Hollywood and the successful genre mix of detective story, thriller and romantic melodrama. Above all, it arises from the open-ended, puzzled narrative style, which explicitly invites the audience to interpret independently and through which the film constantly updates itself in the eye of the viewers. The never-ending attraction is based on the persistently fascinating way in which familiar dramaturgical procedures are varied, broken, fragmented and combined in complex ways. 

This detailed study, scene by scene, makes the film and its aesthetic strategies comprehensible; at the same time, it is an introduction to narrative-theoretical and dramaturgical principles. From the perspective of dramaturgy, which is both a theoretical and practical discipline, aspects of the filmic narrative that are perceived as ‘puzzling’ or ‘unreliable’ can be explained and binding conclusions for understanding plot and story can be derived. Through dramaturgical analysis, the numerous intertextual references–to visual art, ancient myths and psychoanalysis–and their role in the dramatic construction become understandable. And last but not least, it goes hand in hand with the ability to see aesthetically, through which the film only fully unfolds for the viewers. In this respect, the work is addressed both to filmmakers, to whom it shows possibilities of dramaturgy and visual narration, and to film scholars interested in the advanced dramaturgical procedures of postmodern film narration. 

  • Project lead: Christine Lang
  • CV: Christine Lang is a as cultural scientist, dramaturge and filmmaker. She works and teaches in practice and theory, in the field of film and theatre. Her research focuses on dramaturgy and the aesthetics of cinematic storytelling. Her publications are contributions to practice-based film and narrative research; specific artistic knowledge is made productive for theory, just as the insights of theory are made productive for artistic practice. She teaches at the Hochschule for music und theater "Mendelsohn Bartholdy" in Leipzig and at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF. 
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  • Scientific PhD in the discipline:  Media Studies