Requiem for a Dream (Analysis)


Requiem for a Dream and the addiction problem

Requiem for a Dream, directed by Darren Aronofsky,  is a generational film and a philosophical one, as well as Trainspotting. Its themes are indeed at the heart of contemporary youth: media, drugs, sex. But beyond that, Requiem is a reflection on addiction, on the alienation and self-ownership. Visually and aesthetically, Aronofsky materializes urgency of need, the obsession with consumption. The pace of implementation, the heady music, assembly plans reveal the forfeiture of the characters initially slow, then rampant in the end. He denounces the excesses by the excess. The image saturates as the mastermind of the characters.

Summary of Requiem for a dream:

Each character has his own addiction:

The hero’s mother (Sarah Goldfarb), widow and poor, is dependent on television, which orders her to stay young and beautiful (as a categorical imperative: “no read meat, no sugar, …”). Her days are punctuated by viewing diet shows. It goes well with a doctor, who prescribed the addictive appetite suppressants (amphetamines). The goal is to put her wedding dress, a symbol of youth and happiness gone. She thinks the show, which then becomes a projection of his inner life. Similarly, television characters are literally thrown in his living room, invade its interior. Aronofsky means the loss of reference, sense of reality. Of course, the system works, but these medications make him lose all connection with reality. His end will be sad: a frontal lobotomy and a stay, that are seemingly definitive, in a psychiatric hospital.

Harold Goldfarb (Jared Leto): Harold is a university graduate, but drugs with his friend Tyrone and his girlfriend Marianne. The drug is initially presented as playful as a joyous escape from reality. Then comes the mercantile vision, since he and Tyrone have the idea of ​​selling heroin. They discover the world of drug dealers, violent and ruthless. Harold is also a major consumer. So much so that his arm gangrene. It will eventually amputated, symbolizing the power of the drug, its dismemberment morale.

Marianne: On the artistic temperament, Marianne gradually deteriorates into drugs and eventually prostitution to get them. Through Marianne, we understand that the drug also means negation of creativity.

Tyrone: Tyrone’s tenderness is through the recurrence of his childhood memories, a time of sweetness where he was protected by his mother. For him, substance abuse led him to prison, where he will experience racism and loneliness. That said, the prison requires treatment, which suggests a less bleak future.

Requiem for a dream tells of a disillusioned society in which happiness is fleeting. Worse is the conquest of happiness which consumes and destroys them gradually. Their evolution is thus purely regressive.

The film poster is also very interesting: a symbolic perspective, the eye is considered the mirror of the soul. But in the very close of the iris, the eye is likely to Harry Goldfarb, there are two important points. On the one hand, the dilated pupil is a black intrusive. On the other hand, looking carefully into the tiny reflection of the iris, there is a blue sky with clouds, the symbol par excellence of a dreamlike, beyond a dream. The contrast between the black pupil dilated, a sign of altered perception, and the blue sky as a reflection, evokes the spirit of confusion between dream and reality, between perception of reality and simulacra. The characters are experimenting all reality by the intervention of a substance or object, whether it be heroin or television. Their world view is distorted.

Symbolically, the final minutes are also responsible for an emotional standpoint. Filmed from above, each character goes down in a fetal position in a bed or sofa, places ironically very conducive to sleep and dream. This position necessarily refers to the ultimate point of their regression, is that of security in the womb.

Conclusions on Requiem for a Dream:

It is understandable that Requiem is not a film about drugs, but a film about addiction and modernity. The condemnation of society is clear: the individual is alone, without reference, unable to discern right from wrong. Our world, according to Aronofsky, is Dionysian and alienating.

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