Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Requiem for a Dream a beautiful montage excercise

Darren Aronofsky’s second filmic exercise, Requiem for a Dream, is a moralistic tale of four characters that slowly succumb to drug addiction because of their mental weakness. It might be called a requiem because the narrative assimilates the orchestration of a musical composition. The use of montage shows an introduction to the character’s dreams and aspirations, a built up of events, the conflict and the point of no return.

Following the Pudovkin reading, we could agree that Requiem ‘s edition is working up towards a destructive emotion. It is so, because there are a lot of close shots and close ups that glued together, show the hidden world of objects and persons. These, tell a story inside the story and provide guidance of the attention of the spectator to different elements of developing action. Requiem’s shots, juxtaposed with fast cuts, and split screens, show the physical and mental degradation of the characters in a chronological order with a speeding up rhythm. This feature also serves as a great example of parallelism (4 thematically unconnected incidents develop in parallel) when the viewer is confronted with the actions of the characters.


Simultaneity of the character’s actions (the outcome of one depends on the outcome of the others) is clearly embodied when Harry and Tappy don’t make it big, Marion and Harry start fighting because they don’t have money to buy drugs. Hence, Harry, asks Marion to get money at any cost and in any way and suggests being a prostitute. She was maybe determined to do it only once, because she had faith that Harry would make it big and bring money to the house, but since he does not come back, she goes back and does it again. The orgy sequence, has close shots that cut by cut,show you Marion’s face, the other girl’s face, Marion’s sweaty body parts, excited and aroused expressions of the men that were surrounding them. Close shots of the two behinds pumping together and all these, combined with music, guided the viewer to an incredible amount of tension and crudeness.

The use of split screens and tight shots of drugs, constantly reminds the viewer of the leitmotif (same shot repeated several times). When Sara consumes her pills, we see the tight shots of the colored pills and how they disappear. When Harry , Tappy or Marion consume cocaine, there’s one shot of a dollar bill rolled, a line of coke inhaled, and the dilatation of the eye’s pupil. As well as with marijuana, we only see a shot of the weed, and then the joint rolled up. In case of the heroin, we see the tight shot of the spoons surface with a boiling substance, and the tight shot of the syringe being filled up with the same substance, and the a microscope shot of the blood cells being invaded by the substance. Basically, Leitmotif: Drug abuse. We barely get to see the characters actually inhaling, injecting or smoking... we see the reaction the substance has on their behavior. Speeding them up, or slowing them down (Sara, would clean her house and this would be shown in a time lapse. Harry would put music and start dancing or Tappy and Harry would sit on the dinner and Harry would not respond quickly to the waiter).

Even though, Pudovkin provided some theories that were logical, Einsenstein, worked up this idea of montage in a less Marxist and perhaps in a more psychological way. I must agree that Requiem for a Dream, is an excellent example for the understanding of Decomposition (decomposition makes a scene naturalist and attractive). The scrutinizing decomposition of the movie does not only provide realism, it provides crudeness, this same crudeness might be seen as an attractive image even though its an unpleasant thing to see. The beauty of this shots and this story lies in the human condition and how it is portrayed, the frailty, the conflict of the characters with themselves and the conflict of every shot when combined with the others. The intensity of perception in Requiem, increases because of its constant decompositions thru cuts. But the greatness of this movie is not only because of montage, I believe that the character’s portrayal, and the performances were overwhelming. The last sequence, with those backs and forth, completely tore me out. This Film is so psychological intense that when you are done watching it, you are exhausted and drained.


Blogger Luis Ricardo said...

Danny, necesitamos nuevos posts.

9:49 AM  

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