Visual Literacy

Film Analysis

Posted on: November 8, 2009

I had a really hard time finding articles that really focused on Requiem for a Dream, and didn’t just summarize all of director Aronofsky’s films. Every time I watch this movie I am always struck by its complexity and the way it portrays a common aspect of life (drug use and addictions) but does it in a shockingly different way. The articles by Brooks and Adams only reaffirmed my appreciation by indicating the lengths that Aronofsky went through to make what he wanted: a great film.


Both Brooks and Adams comment on the “drug use” montage. The shots are different depending on which drug is being ingested (caffeine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana), but they always represent the monotony and repetition that the users deal with just to get a fix. A typical movie goes through about 700 cuts; Requiem had over 2000. This garners a new appreciation for both Aronofsky and the film as a whole. His dedication to portray these users in such a realistic light is pretty unique, which is why most depictions of the drug scene are so conventional and the characters are often just cliches. The montages themselves are what earned an NC-17 rating from the ratings board, so it’s pretty safe to say that they were as unidealized as you can get. The director marries technological advancements with a maturity in storytelling  that puts him way ahead of the game (Adams).


In terms of success, the movie only took in about $3.5 million at the box office. Its real triumph came after its video release; the film gained a huge cult following and is currently rated number 56 in IMDb’s list of greatest films (based on user’s votes). Brooks questions what exactly makes the movie so popular. Is it simply a cultural fixation with illegal drugs? Is it the depiction of how addictions affect any and all demographics? Is it the sex? It’s all of it, and it’s made all the better by Aronofsky’s “technical brilliance” (Brooks).


Adams, Sam. Requiem for a Dream. Philadelphia City Paper. 2-9 Nov 2000.

Brooks, Xan. “Requiem for a Dream”. Sight and Sound: 11.2, Feb 2001.


1 Response to "Film Analysis"

I’ve never heard of this movie before, but from what Ashley says it sounds like an interesting film. The scene that she posted was different than a normal movie scene. Ashley mentioned that this movie has way more cuts than average, and this scene gives a good indication of that. As I watched it, time seemed to pass more slowly because the action was speeded up in the scene. I think this can be an interesting editing tool and maybe reflects on how drug abuse can cause people to lose track of time and get lost in their lives. Of course, I haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t really have any idea if this is true.


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  • emmalaem: I've never heard of this movie before, but from what Ashley says it sounds like an interesting film. The scene that she posted was different than a no
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