...I'm inspired by the Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island, where I grew up. It is the greatest ride in the world. I've always tried to construct my films with the same structure: intense, on the edge of your seat.”
The influence of cinema masters Polanski, Buñuel and Cronenberg is evident in Aronofsky’s ambitious oeuvre, which is built on representing extreme states: isolationists preoccupied with abstract intellectual concepts, addicts consumed with the desire to chase the next mind bending high, public performers who brutally push their bodies and psyches beyond the edge. Aronofsky’s recent release, mother!, is a strikingly violent metaphor that makes the Cyclone roller coaster seem like a walk in the park. Reactions to his films are mixed - spectators either love or loathe the controversial auteur; he certainly isn’t for the faint of heart!
In this 3-week lecture series, six of Aronofsky’s films will be examined in categories relating to Fixation, Performance and Cosmology, referencing psychoanalytic concepts to shed light on the running theme of obsession throughout his body of work. We will engage closely with the director’s signature style (a combination of melodrama, psychological horror, fantasy and surrealism) as he portrays the devastating pitfalls and amplified pleasures of being driven by a singular, extreme passion. The motif of obsession communicates yearning, pain and love in a supercharged way - it is difficult to name a modern director who surpasses Aronofsky in authentically representing this overwhelming emotional experience on film.
Advance viewing is optional, select scenes and montages will be shown during weekly sessions (see filmography below).
Week 1 - FIXATION
Pi (1998): A paranoid mathematician searches for a primer that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.
Requiem For A Dream (2000): The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island characters are shattered when their addictions spin out of control.
Week 2 - PERFORMANCE
The Wrestler (2008): A faded professional wrestler must retire, but finds his quest for a new life outside the ring a dispiriting struggle.
Black Swan (2010): A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.
Week 3 - COSMOLOGY
The Fountain (2006): A modern-day scientist struggles with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife.
mother! (2017): A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
PROJECTIONS is psychoanalysis for film interpretation. PROJECTIONS empowers film spectators to express subjective associations they consider to be meaningful. Expertise in psychoanalytic theory is not necessary - the only prerequisite is the desire to enter and inhabit the imaginary world of film, which is itself a psychoanalytic act.
MARY WILD, a Freudian cinephile from Montreal, is the creator of PROJECTIONS.