Stairway to the Stars: Representations of Class in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”

To celebrate Mulholland Drive joining the Criterion Collection, here’s one from the vaults – an essay I’d written on it back in college!

Steven Johnson

The following is an essay I wrote for my American Identity in Film class at UC Berkeley during the Spring 2012 semester. I studied David Lynch’s neo-noir film Mulholland Drive to analyze how class differences are represented both literally, as financial success, as well as through emotion, as a theme synonymous with romantic “success” as love.

Steven Johnson – Stairway to the Stars

The role class plays in film has always been an intriguing one. The scholars Harry M. Benshoff and Sean Griffin define class as “categorizing people according to their economic status” in their work America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies (167). Class can be defined absolutely through wealth, such as in the screwball comedy It Happened One Night or through imitation and mockery, like in The Lady Eve. Conceptions of class can be framed within any discourse established for a particular…

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