We all have some sort addiction in our lives that fuels us, motivates us, gets us moving. There's always something that we seem to lack that can't be fixed without getting dependent on a drug that will send us twisting and turning through a hallway unsure of what is real and what is not. We may eventually get what we want, but it may not ever matter anymore, we have crossed a point of no return and we have ventured into a realm that we may have not wished to enter in the first place. That's what Requiem of A Dream delves into, our insatiable urges to continue with an out-of-reach goal. With a matter such as this, Darren Aronofsky managed to create one of the most disturbing, twisted scenes ever to be placed in cinema. You feel uneasy as you would watch this movie, yet you find yourself drawn into it by how it portrays madness in such a beautiful way. What you end up seeing is a masterpiece made by skulls and covered in human entrails.
What makes this so evident is that you can tell that the film is stylized by someone. It's not a film that you could assume that someone else made, this is a true work of Aronofsky's desensitized mind. From the frenetic and chaotic cutting style to having Clint Mansell's chilling soundtrack to the performances given by each of the actors, every piece is put into motion properly. I had to find out more about everything, I needed to feed myself with more information on how this film would come to be. I found myself searching through website upon website, typing intensely on the keyboard, staring at the computer screen for hours. My body would sometimes quit on me and even hurt, but the drive kept pushing me forward to see what more was hidden about this movie. Soon, I had everything that I needed to know, and rested for the first time in two days. Now that I am well awake and feeling fine, I can shed some light on some of the more interesting aspects involved in the production of Requiem For A Dream.
5. Tappy's Third Thing
One of the three main stories of the movie revolves around Sara Goldfarb (played by Ellen Burstyn) and her desire to be on the show Juice hosted by Tappy Tibbons (played by Christopher McDonald, who I could have sworn was the host in The Wizard...). Once her desire seems to be fulfilled by a call she gets from the show, she decided that she's going to get thin in order to fit into an old red dress of hers. As she's trying to get into her diet, she finds herself getting tempted constantly by the refrigerator. It doesn't necessarily help that Tappy keeps talking about things that she would love to have right now such as red meat and sugar. Yet every time the third thing is going to be mentioned, we are somehow thrown somewhere else, never to know what else Tappy is talking about.
While it isn't really relevant to the what occurs in the story, it turns out that Tappy was actually going to mention three things. It turned out that the last thing Tappy was going to mention was removing pharmaceuticals from the equation. See, Darren had the idea that Tappy would later attack Sara for betraying his words and cheating her way through meeting her goal of getting thinner in the hallucination that she endures. The third message was meant to be the final snap that indicated that she had made a huge mistake with taking pills from a doctor she had little to no information on. The problem with this though is that he felt that pharmacies would be enraged by this comment towards them and that people would misconstrue his message as though people shouldn't take medication. Due to this, Darren had to cut out the footage of Tappy's third topic and also a chunk of the film itself and edit it in a way that the third thing wasn't really anything to take note of.
4. The Ages Of The Other Protagonists
As we all know, the film deals with a lot of heavy materials, especially since it revolves around drugs. Harry (Jared Leto) finds himself getting damaged by shooting up too much and ends up with his arm getting amputated, Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans) find himself constantly in trouble and thrown in prison twice and Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) has to end up doing sexual favors to feed her drug-related appetite. As the whole film progresses, you see just how damaging and sordid all of these events become to the characters and when you see it all in succession, it makes you cringe at the sight of all this torment colliding at once.
Now, imagine if all this happened to a more younger set of people. Darren felt that in order to drive the point home, he should have made this characters younger, around 14-16 years old to be exact. That way when the audience would see what sort of catastrophe would follow to all of them, they would not only be more shocked, but more aware of the horrors that addiction beholds. While this wasn't the intent of Selby's story, the author agreed that perhaps making these characters younger would have made their point stronger. Naturally, having such awful acts be done to this age group would have caused people (especially parents) to go insane. In fact, when pitching to the producers, both of them told the two that they had to make the characters older so that the film could be show in theaters. Selby understood the argument against this choice, but Darren was a little hesitant to go through with it. Nonetheless, he eventually agreed to go along with this.
3. The Rapid Cuts
As I mentioned before, one of the greatest things about Requiem For A Dream is its style. The film is packed with fast paced cuts here and there. These cuts fit perfectly to how people get so swept up in everything when their addiction starts to kick in. It also just shows how quick the change happens when you're involved with your addiction. The fast speed of the film oddly enough plays itself really well when you see how it changes the characters, and that's usually just sped up footage of them doing something while under the influence of the drugs. Regardless, they still serve to establish how the film plays out and it works so well to the construction of the film.
What's weird though is that this wasn't originally the way the film was going to progress. There was more footage that was going to be added into the film during some of the later scenes, that would possibly hint to a greater breakdown according to Matthew Libatique, the cinematographer. He goes on to say that the film would have been much more warped and surreal if the footage was implemented into the final cut. So, why isn't this the case? Apparently, a large amount of this aforementioned footage was lost or unusable. This set back the production of the film as it was near impossible to re-shoot the scenes again and they were closer to having to get a final cut out. So the editing room as well as Darren came up with the brilliant idea of re-using some of the old footage and cutting it up rapidly. At first I thought this was intentional that they would re-use some of the old footage, but it seems that what they were really trying to do was cut corners.
2. A Winter Worry
When the film gets into the final act (aka Winter), it's when you see the whole slew of events in the wolrd finally crash down on all of the characters. Their addiction finally gets the better of them and they find themselves at a point that they did not want to end up in the first place. Sara is now in a mental institute for not taking into account the words of her son, and still living in delusion, Tyrone is in jail again, possibly for life, Harry has lost not only one of his arms but the love of his life and Marion has sold her body in order to continue clinging to her addiction. My favorite part of the end is how they have each of the characters crawl into a fetal position, showing how distraught they are and how they wished that things would have gone for the better for them.
While there were two main problems that came about getting together the final part of the film, I'll be talking about the scenes that led up to Sara's breakdown in this entry. Ellen Burstyn not only was working on another film (The Yards) during Requiem but also had came down with a bit of a cold when they were about to get to this portion of the film. There were very little times that the crew could use her in the end, and they had a lot more that they needed to put out into the film. As expected, this made the director panic. He was lost with one of the main characters being out of the picture. Selby had pitched to Darren that perhaps he could have a double of Sara come around the end and make her endure electroshock. All they needed was to apply make-up to the double to make her seem all worn out and troubled and have her only speak in mumbles and muffled screams. Darren loved the idea so much that he figured that when he had Burstyn for filming that all she would do is the scenes leading up to her ending up in the ward and the final final scene.
1. The Filming Of The Sex Show
Now we come to the most insane part of the film, and also the most disturbing scenes. Sure, it seems like something to expect out of a porno and admittedly the extras sure are lucky to be up and close into the action, but when you know the characters lead-up to this and notices what is being juxtaposed with these scenes, that arousal just turns to internal confusion and makes you uncomfortable. The way she stares blankly into space and is looking with "tired" eyes that she's disappointed being her. The loud chants of the men screaming the uproar of the hormones further emphasizes the utter filth that surrounds the room. There is no turning back by this point, she has crossed the line and will now have to live the rest of her life shrouded in shame and misery.
The filming of this particular portion was a complicated one. At first, Jennifer Connelly was fine with being part of this scene. As the days would lead up to having to film this part, she asked the director if perhaps there was a way that she could still do the scene but not have a ton of eyes leering on her as it made her feel uneasy. Aronofsky, a little upset of this change of mind, figured that he could film the scenes with the guys themselves doing their shouting and then film the sex show afterwards and then blend them together in the editing room. After completing the first part of the filming which was just the guys hollering, it came time to film the other half. Connelly again was reluctant in going through with this, as she still wasn't able to debase herself for the sake of the scene. This annoyed Aronofsky, but he went through with her request and shot the scene in a way that it would seem as though she was involved in the events that followed. Also, as a side note, the line "Ass to ass" was actually improvised by Stanley B. Herman. Just thought I let you know.