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I often find a lot more satisfaction, in compelling characters simply romanticizing certain ideas. Characters who are adament to hold on to a comforting dream, often realising that the thought is often more beautiful than the reality.
Requiem for a Dream was based on Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1978 novel of the same title. Selby was known for his harsh depictions of America’s underworld in his novels; most noteably the cult classic Last Exit to Brooklyn.
Selby never underwent formal training and so he drew entirely from his own experience and intensely explicit volcabulary of his youth. The way you put your words to your journal at night – that’s how Hubert Selby Jr wrote his books:
“I write, in part by ear. I hear as well as feel and see, what I am writing. I have always been enamoured with the music of the speech in New York.”
So, when I tell you some of his work was banned in the UK and Italy in the late 60’s – you get the picture, yes?
Darren Aronofsky understood what the story of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Marion Silver (Jenniffer Connelly) and Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans) was all about; the same way Selby saw it:
“(..)amorphous and unattainable, a compliation of the various desires of the story’s characters.”
Aronofsky uses hip hop montages (extremely short cuts) throughout the movie, which gives the movie a very special pace and contributes to some of the best scenes in Requiem for a Dream.
Another visually stunning technique used in this film, is the split-screen and alternating between extreme close-ups and exaggerated distance. Aronofsky put as much depth into the visual protrayal of this story, as Selby put into the words.
The film is centred around Sara, her diet-pill addiction and fascination with a game show; her son Harry and his girlfriend Marion and their growing heroin addiction, and Ty, Harry’s friend, with whom he is setting up a drug dealing business.
5.) Can you hear me? Can you see me?
When Ty and Harry end in jail and Harry’s trombosis is causing him tremendous pain, the sound of their screaming distorts in unison with the bouts of electric shocks Sara is receiving and the rumble of male voices encouraging Marion’s girl-on-girl-action.
4.) The Aftermath
Following imediately after number five, is the final closing sequence when you can see all the characters, lost, alone and in horrific states and yet still they are all comforted by the dreams that landed them in this mess in the first place. Tranquil and heartbreaking, this is one of the best scenes.
3.) You Smug F***!
When Marion finds herself forced to ask Arnold the Shrink (Seal Gullette) for money, the entire restaurant around her seems to speed up in her humiliation: knives and forks clink and scrape madly, Arnold’s chewing speeds up and, BAM – Arnie gets it good, albeit only in her imagination.
2.) Feed me Sara
Sara is living on a diet of uppers and downers; through bouts of paranoia she still finds a sense of calm, imaging herself on TV, in her pretty red dress, showing off her son Harry, until one day, the TV becomes her biggest source of fear, as the game show enters her house and makes fun of her.
1.) Fingertips & Goosebumps
Undoubtedly, the best scene is one of innocence and beauty: Harry and Marion lie naked on the couch, while we are witness to their fingertips exploring each other’s body in split screens and closeup shots.
To be honest I think there’s not a single scene in this movie I don’t like or would have done differently (yes, me, with my great expertise!) and I could dissect the entire movie, scene by scene and tell you what is great about each:
The intro and the grannies outside of the building (I mean, puleeease – how ghetto are they?), Ty and Harry’s moment at the hot dog stand and Big Tim’s (Keith David) haunting voice reverberating through different scenes…
There’s just too much to say about this movie – and the soundtrack! I love the soundtrack by Clint Mansell.
I actually feel guilty leaving this article half-assed in a way; I keep thinking of more amazing scenes…
So if you’ve got any more scenes to add, you’d really be helping me out!