Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Welcome to another instalment of the DIRECTOR SERIES, where we take a look at directors in the world of film and the advancements they have made, the style they possess and where their place is in the history of cinema. Today, we look at the very talented DARREN ARONOFSKY.

In film, one essence that is captured more than any other, is emotion. Whether it be anger, depression, or joy, filmmakers manage to capture this feeling in a visual form that allows what we see on screen to connect with us as an audience. The term I like to use when describing this sort of poetic style of film making is "leading us down the rabbit hole." And no director utilizes this tactic more poignantly and seamlessly than Darren Aronofsky.

Darren Aronofsky has been making films since the 1990's and has continued to create content even through to this day. His first feature film was Pi (1998), a film that revolves around a man who believes he can figure out the world's stock market based on the Pi formula. His most recent release is a film titled Noah (2014) which follows Aronofsky's interpretation of the age old bible tale. But enough backstory, let's get into what makes Aronofsky great.

First and foremost is being the master of "leading us down the rabbit hole." Aronofsky brings so much charisma and excitement visually and through his stories. He emerges us into a whole new world and that forces us to experience the sense of anxiety and uncomfort. The stories that he often chooses revolve around a person on their downward spiral. The main characters in his films have often figured out their own meaning of life and have discovered how they can live out the rest of their life happily. But then, a certain event forces them to chose between the happiness that they have chosen or surviving. His films often take an incredibly emotional turn, specifically for the worst. His films revolve around the human condition and how people chose to handle over the top, wildly thematic scenarios and how these scenarios force them to change. For example, in his film Requiem for a Dream, the main characters begin making money hand over fist by selling drugs. But after their money is stolen from them, they must chose how to retrieve it back. Forcing a few characters to steal from family members, and one to even go into an odd form of prostitution. This being said we can guess that Aronfosky does not have a problem with showing us the nitty gritty, if anything he gets high off it. The horrendous and most disturbing, heart wrenching challenges that the human spirit must face for so called "happiness" he will show us. He also is a fan of having not-so-happy endings. Like in Requiem for a Dream, even after a character is "cured" of her "madness" she still believes and lives in this fairy tale fantasy that the entire film has spent building up. Or in his film Black Swan, a ballet dancer risks everything to play the lead in a show, causing her to dive over the deep end and wind up killing herself. If there is one thing Aronofsky is the master of, it's showing us emotion and capturing the essence of obsession with drugs, happiness, or money. Aronofsky's characters all share an obsession and a relentless characteristic to them, making his films all worth while.

As for technically, the big highlight for Aronofsky is his editing. Matthew Libatique, his frequent cinematographer collaborator, helps Aronofsky capture this image of anxiety and nervousness. Insane close ups, juxtaposed with insane inserts which make for quick edits. You could put Requiem for a Dream up against almost any of the movies of the Bourne series and the editing would share similarities. The editing is just another thing that adds to leading us down the rabbit hole. In films like Pi, and Requiem for a Dream we are meant to feel uneasy. We are meant to have this looming cloud of anxiety and disgust. So when shots appear on screen and leave the screen within a blink of an eye, that helps. We are forced to go through the same torture that his characters are going through. Maybe not physically obviously, but mentally we can understand the pain and the suffering that these characters experience. And this is the one thing that Aronofsky masters technically.

Emotion is a large part of film. It is what makes or breaks films but it forces us to have a cinematic experience. All directors like choosing a certain emotion to repeat and make us feel. With Aronfosky, the feeling is insanity, anxiety, and nervousness. And he is a literal master of forcing this onto his audiences. So next time you watch an Aronfosky film, just think about how uncomfortable it made you feel. Then, sit back and absorb the brilliant film making you just watched.

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