There are movies that are as painful as a punch in the stomach. After seeing them, even having loved them, you struggle to experience the same horror the second time around. There are directors who love to shock their audience by subjecting them to shocking visions. Darren Aronosfky he is one of them. Intellectual author, deeply master of the cinematographic medium, Aronosfky does not limit himself to recounting the destruction of the American dream, but immobilizes the viewer in front of the big screen with his images of devastating power, forcing him to touch the degradation of civilization with his own hands. L’horror and horror are his signature styleobtained through the alteration of the image, the manipulation of space and time, the very rapid editing, the insistent use of particulars and details, the split screen, the bodycams, the filters, all accompanied by pounding and obsessive soundtracks often born from the fervent collaboration with the composer Clint Mansell.
In Darren Aronofsky’s corpus, the drama of the events narrated corresponds to a highly expressive and emotionally engaging visual style, sometimes even too much. Although he is decidedly far from the horror genre understood in the canonical sense, it often happens to hear his works compared to real movie of horror for the claustrophobic tension that permeates the films and for the gruesome sequences that test even the strongest stomachs. Critically acclaimed, Aronofsky’s cinema is far from popular. Catharsis banned, the director likes to challenge his audience with extreme visions that cause discomfort, paroxysm and despair. After viewing works such as Requiem for a Dream, Madre! o Pi, it is easy to understand why the New York filmmaker remains a niche auteur despite boasting a notable palmares and an Oscar nomination for directing Black Swan (2011).
The poetics of an aware author
If we exclude the happy debut of Pi – The delirium theoremto find Darren Aronofsky’s first box office success you have to wait for the release of The black Swan in 2010. Premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2010, the film jolted audiences in theaters with decidedly disturbing scenes before earning an Oscar for best actress for its protagonist Natalie Portman. If the box office performance of Aronofski’s production fluctuates, there is however one fixed point: the ability to surround himself with stars that he molds according to his needs. His is the merit of having relaunched Mickey Rourke’s career by sewing on him the wonderful tragic mask of The Wrestlersame thing happened more recently with Brendan Fraser e The Whale. Self Requiem for a Dream sees him make the most of the then young and promising Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans, alongside a luxury veteran like Ellen Burstyn, his collaboration with stars such as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins results in his two most imperfect films , but no less powerful for this. And what about the glorification of Jennifer Lawrence in the paroxysm Mother!.
Despite having developed a very personal style, recognizable from the very first shots, Darren Aronofsky’s production is very varied in terms of stories and themes. We pass from cruder and more realistic stories such as Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and the recent The Whale to allegorical works such as The Fountain And Noah. Whatever the topic covered, the cinema by Darren Aronosfky it stands out for a clear vision and coherent themes, but also for a narrative trend that often starts from an apparently “normal” situation and then plunges into an abyss of paranoia and despair. Let’s go back then five most disturbing scenes of Darren Aronofsky films in our personal ranking.
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5. The Wrestler – Hardcore fighting
During the promotion of The Wrestler, star Mickey Rourke has repeatedly insisted not to compare wrestling to boxing because the former discipline is based entirely on the concept of fighting as a show and the fights are choreographed. Rourke, who had a short but intense boxing career, knows the ring well and provides his desperate wrestler Randy with a surplus of dramatic truth. The matches will also be decided over the table, as seen in the film, but a hardcore fight, which ends with Randy in the locker room having a heart attack, puts the audience to the test. Randy and his rival agree to use glass plates, barbed wire and even a staple gun. Aronofsky shows in alternate montage Randy who, covered in blood and wounds, is being treated by the doctor at the end of the match and the frightening match he faced a quarter of an hour earlier. Hard to say whether it is more gruesome to witness the moment in which the staples are fired at him by the rival or when they are removed with pliers by the doctor.
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4. Mother! – The house turned into a war zone
Biblical metaphors and different levels of interpretation are intertwined Mother!, one of Darren Aronofsky’s most complex, self-referential and shocking films. The house where the pregnant character of Jennifer Lawrence (it is significant that neither she nor Javier Bardem have a name) pours her creative flair is invaded by fans of the writer who break into the house causing an escalation of violence and destruction difficult to describe in words. While Bardem, flattered by the fans, seems not to realize anything, Jennifer Lawrence watches helplessly as guests smash furniture, uproot sinks from the wall, attack each other. Every room of the house seems to host a dark page of history, between brawls, riots, torture and guerrilla warfare until the military forces show up with weapons drawn to fight the members of the cult that has arisen around the writer, while his agent organizes executions mass.
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3. The Black Swan – The transformation of Natalie Portman
Horror moments also abound in it The black Swanwhere Natalie Portman takes on the role of a ballet dancer named Nina, who struggles to keep her sanity after being cast in a leading role in the staging of Swan Lake. A story of obsession, self-destruction and competition in the ruthless world of classical dance that sees Portman split into the representation of the innocent white swan Odette and the sensual black swan Odile, her role, the latter, which she struggles to feel in the strings of she. In the shocking climax, after having eliminated her rival (Mila Kunis) by hitting her with a shard of mirror, Nina realizes that she has actually stabbed herself. In a hallucinatory sequence, suggestive and gruesome at the same time, we see her arms change into two gigantic black wings and her eyes take on a reddish color as she twirls around the stage. Nina becomes the Black Swan and the audience participates in her transformation thanks to Darren Aronofsky’s shocking staging.
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2. Mother! – The dismembered newborn
Still from Mother! – just to make the tenor of the film understood – one of the most shocking moments of Aronosfky’s cinema which looks to the illustrious model of Rosemary’s Baby by Roman Polanski. We had left Jennifer Lawrence in the midst of the apocalypse of violence that erupted in the house. After being rescued by Javier Bardem, she gives birth to her baby, but the new dad declares his intention to show it to the crowd. Despite her best efforts to stay awake and protect her newborn, Lawrence falls asleep and Bardem delivers their child to the mass of worshipers. As she tries to fight her way through the crowd to save her baby, she hears the sound of her baby’s neck snapping. Eventually the mother will find him dismembered while the worshipers feed on his flesh in a devastating Christological metaphor.
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1. Requiem for a Dream – Jared Leto’s arm
In terms of shocking sequences, in Requiem for a Dream there is only the embarrassment of choice. Hubert Selby Jr.’s cult novel is bread for Aronofsky’s teeth who realizes a hallucinatory and frenetic, gloomy and desperate adaptation. The film follows four people whose lives are turned upside down by drugs. Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is a widow living in Brighton Beach and is invited to appear on her favorite quiz show. To lose weight, the woman starts taking diet pills and amphetamines. Her son Harry (Jared Leto), along with his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans), deals heroin to make their dreams come true. Seeing Jared Leto injecting the drug into an arm already bluish and worn out by the infection puts a strain, but when, after being reported by the emergency room doctor, he is taken to prison and then to an operating room we fear we already know what is going to happen. In this apocalyptic ending, Henry’s drama is juxtaposed in alternating editing with that of his mother, who is subjected to electroshock after losing her mind, that of Tyrone, who is attacked in prison, and that of Marion, forced into a humiliating sexual exhibition in exchange of heroin. The nightmarish sequence culminates with Henry’s arm being amputated amid blood splatters and the buzzing of the saw.