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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 was screened out of competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

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.

Plot

The film charts three seasons in the lives of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (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 Beachmarker apartment, spends her time watching infomercials on television. After a phone call announces that she will be invited to be a participant on a game show, she becomes obsessed with matching her appearance to a photograph from 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, where she is the principal subject of the game show.

Her son Harry is a heroin addict. Together with his friend, Tyrone, and his girlfriend, Marion — who are also addicts — he 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, and Harry uses 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 in the relationship. The group continues to deteriorate as Marion begins prostituting herself and Harry's arm becomes severely infected from improper injection technique.

With winter comes the final arc in the characters' downward spirals. Sara's sanity unravels after she visits the TV studio and she is put in a mental institution, where she undergoes painful electroconvulsive therapy. Harry and Tyrone travel to Floridamarker, where they believe they can start over, but Harry's deteriorating condition forces them to visit a hospital in South Carolina, where they are arrested. However, Harry is taken to a prison hospital because of his arm, which is amputated. Tyrone must deal with racist prison guards, hard labor, and drug withdrawal all alone. Harry has a recurring dream of Marion waiting for him at the pier at Coney Island, but awakens and realizes that he is alone, an arm amputated and in jail. Marion meets with a pimp, who makes her have sex with him for drugs and later at an orgy where she puts on a perverted show for heroin and cash.

Lost in misery, each character curls into a fetal position. In Sara's dream, however, she wins the grand prize that the game show offers and meets Harry here. In her fantasy, Harry is 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.

Cast



Production

The film rights to Selby's book were optioned by Scott Vogel for Truth and Soul Pictures in 1997 prior to the release of Aronofsky's film π. In addition to the film rights of the novel, Aronofsky purchased film rights for Perfect Blue for $59,000 so he could reference a scene from the film shot by shot, within a similar thematic context in Requiem for a Dream.

Rating

In the United Statesmarker, the film was originally tagged with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA due to a nude sex scene, but Aronofsky appealed the rating, claiming that cutting any portion of the film would dilute (if not outright destroy) its message. The appeal was denied, however, so Artisan decided to release the film unrated. 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 Kingdommarker, 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.

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. However, Aronofsky has said:

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.

Style

As in his previous film, π, Aronofsky uses montages of extremely short shots throughout the film (sometimes termed a hip hop montage). While an average 100-minute film has 600 to 700 cuts, Requiem features more than 2,000. Split-screen is used extensively, along with extremely tight closeups. 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.

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. Aronofsky aims to subjectivise emotion, and the effect of his stylistic choices is personalisation rather than alienation.

The film's distancing itself from empathy is furthered structurally by the use of intertitles (Summer, Fall, Winter), marking the temporal progress of addiction. The average scene length shortens as the movie progresses (beginning around 90 seconds to two 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.

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 Flowersmarker, Babylon A.D., Zathura, and the video games Assassin's Creed and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. More specifically, a version of the recurring theme was reorchestrated for the The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film trailer. 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. Occasionally the show America's Got Talent uses the soundtrack.

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 has also been used as the main theme for the UKmarker's Sky Sports News channel and the entrance theme for the 2007–08 Boston Celtics NBA championship team. The 2009-2010 Colorado Avalanche NHL team also use the theme song as their opening video to home games.

References

  1. Requiem for a Dream :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews
  2. http://www.manga.com/titles/perfect_blue
  3. DAILY NEWS: Artisan Backs Unrated "Requiem"; San Sebastian Lineup Shaping Up
  4. http://archive.salon.com/ent/movies/int/2000/10/13/aronofsky/
  5. Requiem for a Dream (2000) - Trivia
  6. Answer Man rogerebert.com Retrieved on May 2 2007.


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