Requiem for a Dream

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Requiem for a Dream
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Produced by Eric Watson
Palmer West
Scott Vogel
Written by Novel:
Hubert Selby, Jr.
Darren Aronofsky
Hubert Selby, Jr.
Starring Ellen Burstyn
Jared Leto
Jennifer Connelly
Marlon Wayans
Christopher McDonald
Music by Clint Mansell
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
Release date(s) October 6, 2000 (limited)
November 24, 2000
Running time 102 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $4,500,000
Gross revenue $7,390,108

Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 film adaptation of the 1978 novel of the same name. The novel was written by Hubert Selby, Jr.; the film adaptation was directed by Darren Aronofsky, and starred Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.

The film depicts different forms of addiction, leading to the characters’ imprisonment in a dream world of delusion and reckless desperation that is subsequently overtaken and devastated by reality.[1]


[edit] Plot

Harry and Marion after taking heroin.

The film charts three seasons in the lives of mother and son Sara (Ellen Burstyn) and Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Harry’s girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), and Harry’s friend Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans). Each character is ultimately destroyed by addiction and self-delusion.

The story begins in summer. Sara Goldfarb, an elderly widow living alone in her Brighton Beach apartment, spends her time watching infomercials on television. After a phone call announces that she will be invited to attend a live taping of a television show, she becomes obsessed with matching her appearance to a photograph from her son Harry's graduation, her proudest moment. In order to fit into her old red dress, the favorite of her deceased husband, she begins taking a regimen of prescription weight-loss amphetamine pills throughout the day and a sedative at night. The pills alter her behavior, but she passionately insists that the chance to be on television has given her a reason to live. Over the fall, however, her invitation does not arrive, and she begins to up her dosage, causing nightmarish hallucinations.

The widening rift between Harry and Marion.

Meanwhile, Harry is an irresponsible heroin addict. Together with his friend, Tyrone, who is also a heroin addict, and his girlfriend, Marion, an aspiring fashion designer and cocaine addict, the group enters the drug trade in an attempt to realize their dreams. With the money they make over the summer, Harry and Marion hope to open a fashion store for Marion's designs, while Tyrone dreams of escaping the street and making his mother proud. However, at the beginning of fall, Tyrone is caught in the middle of a drug gang assassination, causing Harry to use the majority of the money they've earned to bail him out of prison. Meanwhile, because of the arrests and shootings of dealers, it becomes very hard to obtain any drugs, throwing Harry, Tyrone, and Marion into a state of deprivation. Growing more desperate, Harry convinces Marion to have sex with her psychiatrist in exchange for money, causing a rift between the pair. The group continues to deteriorate as Marion begins prostituting herself and Harry's arm becomes severely infected from his heroin injections.

With winter comes the final arc in the characters' downward spirals. Sara completely breaks down and becomes hospitalized, where she undergoes painful electroshock therapy. Harry and Tyrone travel to Florida, believing they can start over there, but Harry's deteriorating condition forces them to visit a hospital, where they are arrested. Harry's arm is amputated, while Tyrone must deal with hostile prison guards, hard labor, and drug withdrawal all alone. Harry has a recurring dream of Marion waiting for him at a pier, but awakens and realizes that she is gone and he has lost his arm. Marion continues to degrade herself at orgies for cocaine. Meanwhile, Sara has become emaciated and catatonic at a mental asylum. Lost in misery, each character curls into a fetal position. In Sara's dream, however, she finally makes her television appearance and wins a prize. Harry is portrayed as a successful businessman, engaged to Marion. Mother and son hug and say how much they love one another through the cheers of the crowd and the glowing stage lights.

[edit] Cast

Actor Role
Ellen Burstyn Sara Goldfarb
Jared Leto Harry Goldfarb
Jennifer Connelly Marion Silver
Marlon Wayans Tyrone C. Love
Christopher McDonald Tappy Tibbons
Mark Margolis Mr. Rabinowitz
Louise Lasser Ada
Marcia Jean Kurtz Rae
Sean Gullette Arnold the Shrink
Keith David Big Tim
Ben Shenkman Dr. Spencer
Hubert Selby, Jr. Laughing Guard

[edit] Production

The film rights to Hubert Selby, Jr.’s book Requiem for a Dream were optioned by Scott Vogel for Truth and Soul Pictures in 1997 prior to the release of π.

[edit] Rating

In the United States, the film was originally tagged with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA due to a sex scene. Aronofsky appealed the rating, claiming that cutting any portion of the film would dilute (if not outright destroy) its message. The appeal was denied, so Artisan decided to release the film unrated.[2] An edited version of the film was released on video, rated R. This version had the sex scene shortened, but kept the rest of the movie identical to the unrated version. This R-rated version was only distributed in video store chains such as Blockbuster as well as some family-oriented department stores such as Target. The edited version contains an alternate title card, featuring the words "Requiem for a Dream Edited Version," ensuring that the viewer is aware that the version they are watching is not the original.

In the United Kingdom, the film has been given an 18 certificate by the BBFC.

In the DVD commentary, Aronofsky implies the "ass-to-ass" scene was based on something he actually witnessed; in the book, the particulars of Marion's prostitution are not described.

[edit] Themes

The majority of reviewers characterized Requiem for a Dream in the genre of "drug movies," along with films like Trainspotting, Spun, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.[3][4] However, Aronofsky has said:[5]

Requiem for a Dream is not about heroin or about drugs… The Harry-Tyrone-Marion story is a very traditional heroin story. But putting it side by side with the Sara story, we suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, what is a drug?' The idea that the same inner monologue goes through a person's head when they're trying to quit drugs, as with cigarettes, as when they're trying to not eat food so they can lose 20 pounds, was really fascinating to me. I thought it was an idea that we hadn't seen on film and I wanted to bring it up on the screen.

In the book, Selby refers to the "American Dream" as amorphous and unattainable, a compilation of the various desires of the story's characters. All the characters use some form of addiction as a substitute for the actual fulfillment of a dream, choosing immediate sensory placation over a struggle for some higher good. Selby explains the title of his book in this context—as a requiem for some specific dream (a dream) as opposed to the larger, overarching "American Dream" (the dream).[page number needed] While an individual dream can wither and die, the American Dream is persistent and cannot be easily overcome, certainly not by those who are so entangled in it that they cannot see it.[attribution needed]

[edit] Style

As in his previous film, π, Aronofsky uses montages of extremely short shots throughout the film (sometimes termed a hip hop montage).[3] While an average 100-minute film has 600 to 700 cuts,[6] Requiem features more than 2,000. Split-screen is used extensively, along with extremely tight closeups.[3][7] Long tracking shots (including those shot with an apparatus strapping a camera to an actor, called the Snorricam) and time-lapse photography are also prominent stylistic devices.[8]

In order to portray the shift from the objective, community-based narrative to the subjective, isolated state of the characters' perspectives, Aronofsky alternates between extreme closeups and extreme distance from the action and intercuts reality with a character's fantasy.[7] Aronofsky aims to subjectivise emotion, and the effect of his stylistic choices is personalisation rather than alienation.[8]

The film's distancing itself from empathy is furthered structurally by the use of intertitles (Summer, Fall, Winter), marking the temporal progress of addiction.[8] The average scene length shortens as the movie progresses (beginning around 90 seconds to 2 minutes) until the movie's climactic scenes, which are cut together very rapidly (many changes per second) and are accompanied by a score which increases in intensity accordingly. After the climax, there is a short period of serenity, during which idyllic dreams of what may have been are juxtaposed with portraits of the four shattered lives.[7] Many magazine film critics consider Requiem for a Dream the director's masterpiece.

[edit] Soundtrack

The soundtrack was composed by Clint Mansell with the string ensemble performed by Kronos Quartet. It is notable for its use of sharp string instruments to create a cold and discomforting sound from instruments frequently used for their warmth and softness. The string quartet arrangements were done by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang.

The soundtrack has been widely praised and has subsequently been used in various forms in trailers for other films and series, including The Da Vinci Code, Sunshine, Lost, I Am Legend, Valley of Flowers, Babylon A.D., Zathura, and the video game Assassin's Creed. More specifically, a version of the recurring theme was reorchestrated for the The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film trailer.[9] This version is often known as "Requiem for a Tower." It has also been featured in many other commercials and trailers and as remixes on other artists' albums. For example, G.M.S. are widely known for their mix of the song, titled "Juice by GMS." Lil' Jon's track "Throw It Up" uses a sample from the main theme as the beat.

The soundtrack also confirmed its popularity with the remix album Requiem for a Dream: Remixed, which contains new mixes of the music by Paul Oakenfold, Josh Wink, Jagz Kooner, and Delerium, among others. The score is also used as the main theme for the UK's Sky Sports News channel and the entrance theme for the 2007–08 Boston Celtics NBA championship team.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Requiem for a Dream :: :: Reviews
  2. ^ DAILY NEWS: Artisan Backs Unrated "Requiem"; San Sebastian Lineup Shaping Up
  3. ^ a b c Booker, M. (2007). Postmodern Hollywood. New York: Praeger. ISBN 0275999009. 
  4. ^ Boyd, Susan (2008). Hooked. New York: Routledge. pp. 97-98. ISBN 0415957060. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Requiem for a Dream (2000) - Trivia
  7. ^ a b c Dancyger, Ken (2002). The Technique of Film and Video Editing. London: Focal. pp. 257-258. ISBN 0240804201. 
  8. ^ a b c Powell, Anna (2007). Deleuze, Altered States and Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 75. ISBN 0748632824. 
  9. ^ Answer Man Retrieved on May 2, 2007.

[edit] External links

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