Fight, passivity or flight – which path did the heroes of the film Requiem for a Dream choose?
In the seventies of the last century, the French scientist Henri Labori discovered the uniformity of responses to threats / obstacles of all living things, observing the behavior of experimental rats. The naturalist summed up his findings in the book “Praise to Escape”, and illustrated with the film “My American Uncle”, shot by Alain René in 1980.
In Darren Aronofsky’s film Requiem for a Dream, which was released 20 years later, you can see the same reactions of people to problems, but expressed in a different figurative language. In Rene, people seem to participate in an experiment, running like laboratory rats through labyrinths to the unflappable comments of Dr. Laborie himself. Aronofsky has his own experiment. Two thousand editing cuts change one after another – just like in video clips. Collages, close-ups, dilated pupils, split screen, heartbreaking music by Clint Mansell.
Three reactions to problems
Three chapters of the film “Requiem for a Dream” – Summer, Autumn and Winter show how the reaction of the heroes to life’s difficulties changes. The problems of all four are similar: lack of spirituality and a very modest cultural background form in them very unpretentious dreams.
Tyrone, as a child, swore to his mother that he “will have everything.” What is this “all” in the understanding of a not too intelligent black kid? Money, of course.
Harold and Marion are in love with each other and plan to open a designer boutique: Marion is passionate about designing clothes, and Harry is passionate about his “most beautiful girl in the world.”
Sarah Goldfarb, Harry’s elderly mother, spends her leisure time watching the TV in the company of sandwiches and chocolates. Her dream is to get on a TV show and tell the whole world what a great son she has.
Chapter One, or the Struggle
How do the heroes of the film fight for their dream?
Harry and Tyrone decide to become drug dealers, selling “loose” drugs. The cache of dollars is replenished before our eyes.
However, there are two nuances. All the young trinity are drug addicts with experience, they cannot live without “foolishness”. The guys don’t go through the assortment: they use everything that can be inhaled, smoked, swallowed, injected into a vein. The struggle for a brighter future ends when “everything acquired through backbreaking work” has to be given as bail to free Tyrone from prison, and the source of uninterrupted drug supply suddenly dries up.
Marion starts earning money in the most ancient way, sliding from providing intimate services to an unpleasant acquaintance to participating in orgies with disgusting characters.
And what is the struggle of a pensioner? Sweet widow Sarah, having received an invitation to the coveted television show, begins a fierce struggle with excess weight. After all, you have to squeeze into your favorite red dress! She was pretty to her late husband in him, and there was not much money to buy a new outfit. She has an old TV, and her son, a drug addict, steals this antediluvian “gadget” from the apartment with enviable regularity, because there are no other valuables in the Brooklyn house.
Sweet tooth Sarah, quickly tired of the harsh diet of “an egg and a half of a grapefruit”, turns to a nutritionist. And she only needs to lose some seven kilograms. And the nutritionist, without hesitation, prescribes a potent weight loss agent for her.
And the old woman, having no idea what she was swallowing under the guise of pink and blue pills, day after day slipped into drug addiction. A son who came with a gift (home theater!), By grinding his teeth and unreasonable euphoria, immediately understands the reason for the excitement and weight loss of the mother. What is characteristic: a frightened Harry persistently admonishes his mother to quit the pills, but he himself does not even think to quit his deadly habit. Can not.
Chapter two, or Passivity
Sarah can be blamed for passivity when she only does what she buys out the TV set sold to the junk dealer by her son. Sarah replies to the merchant’s remark that she loves the descendant and is not going to contact the police. And to think about why the child does not work, why he constantly needs money, it does not occur to Sarah. She consoles herself with illusions when her son, temporarily rich in the trade in death, informs her that he works as a distributor (the most interesting thing is that he is not lying, he is distributing the potion).
Are the young characters in the film passive? Yes, when the money given by wealthy parents (Marion) is thoughtlessly living, when they are idle and do not think about getting a profession (Harry and Tyrone).
But they are all very active when the next portion of “chemistry” is needed.
Chapter Three, or Flight
And now we are not talking about the struggle for a dream. There is a struggle for a new dose. And with each dose, the flight begins. From reality. According to Henri Laborie’s conclusions, flight takes different forms: geographical, artistic, chemical.
In times like these, escape is the only means to survive and still dream.
Geographical escape is not only a “hunt for a change of place”, it is any change: housing, activities, lovers, friends.
Artistic escape – a person’s pain is transformed into works of art: texts, music, painting, etc.
In the case of the four heroes of the film, we are talking about a chemical escape. Chemistry is not only drugs, it is also alcohol, nicotine, sleeping pills, antidepressants and even sweets. What does chemical escape do to the body? Reorients its cellular metabolism. And now a person cannot live without a dose. At first, Sarah had a pleasant “dose of happiness” with chocolates, which, with the light hand of a nutritionist, were replaced by a real poison.
In the finale, each of the heroes, who lost in the battle with the poison, curls up into the pose of an embryo. Psychologists believe that moving their knees to the torso and lowering their head, people go into the comfort zone, recovering from the stress they experienced during the day.
But what kind of comfort can the unfortunate have? It seems that in the fetal position, each of them silently cries out: “Mom, give birth to me back!”
It would be nice to show this film on a mandatory basis in schools. Beautiful people. Good people, in fact, perish. From drugs.