For this final blog I wanted to write about a director that I feel fully encompasses what one would want in a movie maker. I watch movies for many reasons, to laugh, to be exhilarated, to cringe, to cry. The ability to illicit an emotion from the viewer is a magical accomplishment, and in my opinion no one is more capable of the latter than Darren Aronofsky is.
Aronofsky is a moody and heady director. Most of his films require you to take a shower after watching, you know… to get rid of that filthy feeling they give you. His films “are known for their often violent, bleak subject matter. With themes ranging from, “the search for perfection, the search for happiness and longing for love, to intoxication with publicity, the pain of alienation, and the burden of responsibility.”
Born February 12, 1969, Aronofksy was raised Jewish in New York, surprisingly his parents were uninvolved with filmmaking.
It wasn’t until Aronofsky attended Harvard as a young adult that he studied film and social anthropology. This was the start of Darren’s love for film. Darren’s first taste of success came with his senior thesis film “Supermarket Sweep”. A strangely amateur short that is very hard to find nowadays. Regardless of the quality of Supermarket Sweep (compared to his films nowadays), his senior thesis won him plenty of awards at Harvard, suggesting that Aronofsky had a rich career ahead of him.
Darren’s first film was Pi. Pi is about “a paranoid mathematician searching for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.” Darren crowdsourced the funding for this film raising $60,000 from friends and family. The distribution rights were then purchased for Pi for $1,000,000. Pi was then released to the public grossing over $3,000,000.
Requiem for a Dream
Requiem for a Dream was amazingly Aronofsky’s second film. It is a remarkable movie about the drug scene in Coney Island. It chronicles the struggle of addiction, and the consequences of it. Requiem is a major accomplishment in editing and cinematography. Aranofsky utilized many unique filmmaking methods throughout the film. Above is a picture of Jennifer Connolly strapped into a Snorricam. A snorricam is an expensive camera rig which “faces the actor directly, so when they walk, they do not appear to move, but everything around them does.” Check out the link below. The snorricam allowed Aranofsky to get an uncomfortably close shot of Jennifer Connolly, whose character is going through a panic after selling herself sexually for drug money.
Editing wise, Requiem utilizes a frenetic approach to its cuts. Sometimes called “hip hop montage” (cite) Aranofsky uses very short clips in rapid succession to portray the characters using drugs. It is a very unique technique, and Aranofsky pulls it off so well thanks to the precise rhythm the edits make (almost like a song). Requiem for a Dream has over 2,000 cuts in it. Check it out. Requiem – Drug Sequence
Black Swan and Color
Black Swan is Aranofsky’s fifth film. Black Swan tells the story of a “committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.” Darren uses a very specific color scheme for this film. Aranofsky chose to go with a drab color pallet. Grays, blacks, and dilapidated whites can be found in almost every shot. This color scheme matches the dark, twisted descent Nina (Natalie Portman) will take, as she transforms into the Black Swan.
Aranofsky’s decision to use blacks and whites was a smart one, considering Swan Lake (the show Nina is starring in) is a ballet about good versus evil. Towards the beginning of the film, Nina is always found in white. Furthermore, the black vs white theme is used heavily in scenes within the dance studio. In the scene where Nina is first learning about how to take on the role of the black swan, Nina is in all white, while the instructor, and spectators are in stark black. Perhaps characters whom Nina feels are expecting a great deal from her are all in black. Nina is always surrounded by white, or pink to make her appear as an angelic, pure girl. Aranofsky does a great job at using colors as a story telling element, which truly elevates this film to another level. Check out the trailer here Black Swan – Trailer. All check out this article about color in films, very interesting. Color in Movies
Darren Aranofsky is without a doubt my favorite director. His sharp style, dark content matter, and ability to jar the viewer with his work is what sets him apart from others. With a filmography of only 6 movies, Aranofsky has chosen quality over quantity. His last film was released in 2014 (Noah) and his next will be released in 2017 (Mother). I personally value the time and thought Aranofsky puts into his films, and I have no problem waiting years to see another gem from his twisted mind.
BY THE WAY…here’s some extra Arnaofsky fun stuff.
Darren Aronofsky’s Films and the Fragility of Hope by Jadranka Skorin-Kapov
Skorin-Kapov, Jadranka (2015) Darren Aronofsky’s Films and the Fragility of Hope, Bloomsbury Academic
*Pictures found on Google Images after searching “Darren Aronofsky”