Mulholland Drive DVD review

The theatrical window for films is getting shorter and shorter these days it seems. Only two weeks after Mulholland Drive stopped playing here in Dallas, it has arrived on DVD. Universal did a pretty good job with the disc, and most of the complaints with the disc are minor, nitpicky ones. Since most everyone reading this is probably already familiar with the film (why else would you be at a Lynch site after all), I won't bother with summarizing it and will get straight to the disc details.

Just as there were two theatrical posters for Mulholland in the US, Universal also released the DVD with two different covers:
dvdcover1  dvdcover2
The disc inside are identical on both. I kind of wish they would have gone with the picture of both girls that was used on some print ads, but such is life. This way they can get extra money out of die-hard Lynch collectors.

Their are also two different main menu screens, which change depending on where you've just come from on the disc.


The video is about what we've come to expect from most Universal titles of newer films. The image is sharp and clear, with just a hint of compression visible. The picture is presented in about a 1.78:1 aspect ratio (The original Mulholland Drive pilot was shot with 16:9 HD in mind), so if you have a widescreen display it fills it up nicely. It also frames the image better than the 1.85:1 theatrical showings, which tended to cut off the tops of people's heads depending on where the projectionist put the matte. The color holds well and the picture image is sharp. It's not flawless, but pretty damn good. You'll want to make sure you have your TV calibrated to get the proper contrast on the film. You can buy DVDs such as Video Essentials or AVIA Guide to Home Theater for this job, or just pick up a copy of Lynch's short films DVD from his store, which includes some video calibration tests at the end.

As I'm sure many are aware of by now, Lynch added digital blurring to a nude scene involving Laura Harring for the video releases. It comes at about 99 minutes on the disc. If you have your set's brightness and contrast properly calibrated, you won't really notice it. If not, it stands out like a sore thumb. John Neff had this to say on the LynchNet discussion board about the reasons for the blurring, "Laura agreed to a scene which would be timed down and printed very dark, so everything was kinda-maybe-sorta visible, but in deep shadow, with no details visible. As well, on the theatre screen, you view it and it's gone. Once the picture is digitized, however, all bets are off, and you can capture it, tweeze it, time it up, stare at it. This made Laura very uncomfortable. As a courtesy to her, and as to not embarrass her, David made it so the picture cannot be manipulated in that way. If you think you've got a right to freeze and blow up, lighten up an image and alter it from the way it was meant to be seen, just because you bought the DVD, you're wrong. Dave did this to protect Laura's sensitivity about this, and to prevent unauthorized frontal nude shots of her from being distributed on the Internet."


The disc features both a Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Like most of Lynch's films, use of the surrounds is subtile. But both tracks are crystal clear, with the DTS having a bit deeper bass. The sound mix is the same one from the theatrical release. As with most of Lynch's soundtracks, there's a lot of dynamic range. The film features some excellent sound design, which thankfully is all preserved on the DVD.


The disc only contains the theatrical trailer (non-anamorphic) and cast can crew bios. The strangest thing about the bios are the actors chosen. Watts, Harring and Theroux are givens of course. And Ann Miller is understandable as the next logical choice. But the only other cast bio there is for Robert Forster, who's role in the film lasted less than a minute. Even in the TV pilot he only had one other scene. I was very surprised there wasn't a bio for Dan Hedaya (who has a higher billing in the credits) or even Angelo Badalamenti. It's strange, but oh well. The only other item on the disc that could really be called an "extra" is a case insert listing "David Lynch's 10 Clues to Unlocking This Thriller." Most them are nothing new for die-hard Lynch fans, but it's nice to have for newbies. The clues are things such as, "Where is Aunt Ruth?" and "Who gives a key, and why?"

As with most of Lynch's films on DVD, there are no chapter stops on the disc. Lynch feels that the film should be viewed in one setting, without interruptions. This seems to really bother a lot of people, though I can't figure out why. First, he is correct about viewing the film. It's not a 30 minute sitcom after all. You don't go to the theater to see a film, then get up half way through and come back the next day to see the other half. Further, most DVD players have an automatic memory, so if you shut the player off in a spot they will go right to that point when you later turn them back on. I know some are concerned because they like to "study" the film, and can't jump around as easily. Besides the fact that Lynch doesn't make films to teach film studies, it's really not all that hard to fast forward to a certain point on the disc. One of the times I was viewing the disc I had to stop and take it out to check something on another one. When I put it back in, it took me all of 18 seconds to fast scan back to where I was. I realize that's longer than the 7 seconds it might take with chapter stops, but hey, 11 extra seconds won't kill you. :)

Overall, the disc is a winner. It's not perfect, but nothing shameful either. All we have left to wait for now is Lost Highway (the SE is stuck in Universal/USA Home Video limbo) and Wild At Heart (planned for later this year or next by MGM). Still, as far as DVDs go, it's a great time to be a Lynch fan!

Back to the Mulholland Drive page.

Mulholland Drive is copyright Assymetrical Productions, Canal+ and Universal Pictures.
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