email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training12 and Holding3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days49 Up5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band56 UpA Beautiful MindA Dangerous MethodA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA.M. EnergyAbout SchmidtAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAddictionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlexander the LastAM/PM YogaAmerican TeacherAthlete's Guide to YogaAutism and MeBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBeautiful DreamersBecoming OrgasmicBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBetter Sex Through YogaBeyond HatredBilly the KidBlue Is the Warmest ColorBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBoy InterruptedBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBreath-Centered YogaBuying SexCalm Body Clear MindCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberCinema's Sinister PsychiatristsCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingClassical Pilates Technique DVDClimatesCoastCollege Inc.Comedy IncarnateCommuneCompulsionControlCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCriminal JusticeCriminal Justice 2DahmerDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDark Beginnings of Sherlock HolmesDarwin's Brave New WorldDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDeleuze and the Concepts of CinemaDetox YogaDirty Filthy Love DVDDoc Martin Series 2Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEl Doctor, Joy Street & AsparagusElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthics at the CinemaEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Examined LifeExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptExileExperimenterFacing Death: Elisabeth Kubler-RossFagbugFamily YogaFilm StudiesFire on the Mountain DVDFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFragile DVDGabriel & MeGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGirl, InterruptedGirlhoodGoddess WorshipGood FortuneHalf Broken ThingsHappy Yoga DVDHard CandyHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing VoicesHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHeimaHelvetica: A documentary filmHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHer ThirdHigh HopesHit & MissHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy IdentityIn My SkinIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Realms of the UnrealIn Treatment: Season 1Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntense Games DVDInto Great SilenceIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Kind of a Funny StoryIt's Not Me, I Swear!Janis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaJellyfishJulien Donkey-BoyJunebugKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKingdom Series 2Kingdom: Series ThreeKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLa SierraLand GirlsLand Girls Series 2Lars and the Real GirlLast Train HomeLeaving Las VegasLetting Go!Lie to Me: Season OneLife On MarsLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Listening to the WorldLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLouise BourgeoisLunacyLunar Flow YogaMad, Bad and Dangerous?MaidentripManicManufactured LandscapesMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMementoMethadoniaMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingMonsterMother and SonMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurderballMurderlandMurphy's LawMurphy's Law Series 2My Flesh and BloodMy Sister's KeeperMysterious CreaturesNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1New American TeenagersNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNew Sex Now DVDNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNormalNotes on a ScandalNurembergOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOrgasm Inc.Pain Free at WorkPeople Like OurselvesPeople Love PhotosPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPhantom Museums DVDPhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhrenologyPieces of AprilPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPink Ribbons, Inc.PollockPop & MePornographyPornographyPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPrince of PrisonersPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProofProzac NationPsycho ThrillersPublic EnemiesPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQuick Blast MethodRachel Getting MarriedRadiant Heart Yoga DVDRain ManRated X - A Journey Through PornReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaRelative StrangersRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsRequiem for a Dream DVDResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDScreening SexSeeing Fictions in FilmSeeing the LightSergeant Cribb - The Complete SeriesSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDShameShort Term 12SickoSmashedSolar Flow Yoga DVDSpeakSpecial TreatmentSpectacular NowStarting Out in the EveningStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStephen Fry in AmericaStrandedStranger Than FictionStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSunset StorySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2SylviaSynecdoche New YorkTai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTarnationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTemple GrandinTen Zen Tummy TonersTerrence MalickThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe ClassThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Devil, ProbablyThe f WordThe f WordThe f WordThe F Word - Series ThreeThe f Word -- Series FourThe FIRM Power Yoga DVDThe Horse BoyThe Matrix and PhilosophyThe Medicated ChildThe Perfect ExerciseThe Philosophy of Motion PicturesThe Power of ForgivenessThe Qi Healing KitThe ReaderThe SavagesThe Snake PitThe Stanford Prison ExperimentThe Street Complete CollectionThe Suicide TouristThe Three Faces of EveThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Way Way BackThinThinking XXXThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThrough A Dog's EyesThrough Deaf EyesThumbsuckerTierney GearonTo the WonderToday and TomorrowTotal-Body ToningTransTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTrial and RetributionTrial and Retribution: Set 1Trial and Retribution: Set 3Trudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUnderstanding LoveUnforgettableUp the YangtzeV-Core WorkoutViniyoga Therapy for AnxietyViniyoga Therapy for DepressionViniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersWaking LifeWalk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWall: A World DividedWeight Loss Cardio KickWhat Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWhat to Do When Someone DiesWhen Did You Last See Your Father?When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas after ColumbusWrinklesWristcutters: A Love StoryWrong Side of the BusYin Yoga DVDYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogawomanYoung@HeartYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVD
Requiem for a Dream starts
with Harry taking his mother's television set while she hides in the
closet. The screen is split, so we see
her muttering to herself while he shouts at her complaining that she makes him
feel guilty. Both are immediately
unsympathetic characters, and the split screen enhances the sense of
alienation. Set in Coney Island, where
director Darren Aronofsky grew up, we see that these are people who want to
escape from reality. Harry and his
friend Tyrone shoot up as soon as they get the money from the Pawn Shop. They have a scheme to make money by selling
drugs, although they find it difficult to control their own drug use. Meanwhile, Harry's mother, Sarah Goldfarb,
sits in her apartment watching TV. She
gets a phone call telling her she will be on TV, and she is thrilled. She wants to be able to fit into her best
red dress, so she starts to diet. When
restricting her food to hard-boiled eggs, grapefruit and coffee doesn't work,
she gets some diet pills. Soon both
Sarah and Harry are out of control with their drug taking. Harry has a girlfriend Marion, and they have
fun together, but in their most intimate love scene, they are also shown in
split screen, as if even when making love, they are isolated. When Harry's money-making scheme does not
work out and they need more drugs to just to feel normal, everything goes
wrong. By the end of the film, each
character is ruined.
The film is characterized by plenty
of visual techniques. When the young
people take drugs, we see a fast montage of the drugs in preparation, with
sounds effects. When people are on drugs,
often the scene is speeded up. When
Sarah is dieting, she sees food everywhere, even through the fridge. The thematic music is played by the Kronos
Quartet, often signaling disaster. At
other points, electronic music gives a strong sense of tension and undermines
any possible rapport between characters.
Although there are occasional moments of humor, the performances are
strong, and Jared Leto, Jennifer Connely and Marlon Wayans are all good looking
actors, Requiem for a Dream is a hard movie to watch.
In his director's commentary,
Aronofsky explains that he wanted the work to be entirely subjective, getting
into the heads of the characters. Their
addictions take hold of them and make their lives horrific, and he captures
this well. But unlike Michael Figgis'
work in Leaving Las Vegas, for example, it is hard to identify with the
characters. It seems as if getting
closer to their subjective states, in Aronofsky's work, results not in bringing
the viewer to like the character, but rather to feel disgust. Maybe, as in Louis Sass' analysis of
schizophrenia in his important book Madness and Modernism, Aronovksy
sees his characters as utterly alienated from themselves.
Requiem for a Dream is based
on the novel of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr., who also wrote Last Exit
to Brooklyn. One of the DVD extras
is an interview of Selby by Ellyn Burstyn, and he explains how he came to
become a writer and how he came to write such dark pieces. He says he knows more about the darkness
than the light, and he can relate to the suffering of people. He wanted to get deep into people's
pathology, but importantly, he also remarks that people feel compassion
for his characters in his books. This
is exactly what Aronofsky does not do.
Everything about this film works against us caring for these people: we
can see their suffering and we can be horrified by their actions, but we are
not led to care for them.
There is a fascinating section in
Aronofsky's commentary where he tries to distinguish his approach from that of
the "Dogma" school associated with Lars Von Trier, at least in his
early films. That approach rejects all
artificiality and the polish of Hollywood films, and tries to convey reality
through capturing truth spontaneously.
By way of contrast, in trying to get closer to subjective experience,
Aronofsky embraces artificial visual techniques with famous actors, showing
characters fantasies and paranoid dreams.
Of course, both in his early film Pi and this one, he addresses
subjects and uses techniques that Hollywood does not want to touch, so both he
and Von Trier have to work independently of the major film companies. Both filmmakers manage to create profoundly
depressing works, despite their different philosophies.
When I first saw Requiem for a
Dream a few years ago, I loathed it.
It was more gripping that the deeply pretentious Pi, but it was
still unpleasant to watch, and more than that, it made me hate the
characters. Watching it again on the
full DVD, seeing the deleted scenes, watching the actors preparing for their
roles, and hearing Aronofsky talk about his creative process makes it more
interesting. There's no doubt that he
is innovative and creative in his approach, and this film demands the viewer's
attention. As a portrayal of addiction,
it is remarkable and can be counted among the most important cultural representations
of addicts in recent years. After
watching it a few times, the film's power to induce discomfort and alienation
is reduced, but it is still not an experience I want to go through again any
© 2005 Christian Perring. All
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is
Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor
of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.