The spectator as transtextual detective in the metaphysical detective films of David Lynch
Geldenhuys, Emile Leonard
MetadataShow full item record
The filmic oeuvre of auteur director David Lynch has a reputation among average spectators as being too “difficult” to understand. In particular, the Lynch films Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive are considered by the average spectator to be devoid of any real meaning. Spectator theory provides insight into the structures through which spectators find or fail to find meaning in films. Spectator theory explains that the average spectator has a set of schemas for “reading” and understanding film, and that these schemas are shaped by the conventions of popular Hollywood cinema. The films of David Lynch do not adhere to these conventions, and thus challenge the average spectator’s competency with regard to their ability to emplot a coherent and meaningful narrative from these films. In the case of Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, the films present the spectator with multiple mysteries, yet never provide any solutions to these mysteries. If a spectator is to find meaning in Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, then such a spectator needs an appropriate schema for interpreting these films. This dissertation aims to develop one possible schema which can be used to find meaning in Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. To this end, the films Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive are shown to qualify as metaphysical detective films, a genre of narrative which playfully interprets the conventions of classical detective narrative. Under the neologism “transtextual detective” this dissertation traces the characteristics of a spectator who would assume the role of a detective figure, existing outside of the borders of the film text, and calling upon a diverse collection of texts and schemata to solve the mysteries identifiable in these metaphysical detective films. In order to test the applicability of the schema of the transtextual detective, the writer undertakes a demonstration of an investigation into the films Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive while assuming the role of a transtextual detective. The writer firstly indentifies the mystery of identity as a salient mystery in both films, before demonstrating how solutions to this mystery can be found in Lost Highway.
- Humanities