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32 Things We Learned from the ‘Requiem For a Dream’ Commentary

When Ellen Burstyn talks, or when people talk about Ellen Burstyn, you listen.
Requiem For A Dream
By  · Published on February 24th, 2012

Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Kate Erbland descends into the pits of despair, drug addiction, and depression while listening to Darren Aronofsky’s commentary on ‘Requiem for a Dream.’

Before he taught Mickey Rourke how to wrestle or Natalie Portman how to Adagio, Darren Aronofsky was showing Jared Leto how to shoot up. Requiem For a Dream was the director’s second feature film – Pi came out in 1998 – and his position as an auteur began to grow from there. Some consider Requiem Aronofsky’s best film. Regardless if you find it engaging or grotesque, there’s no denying the man’s direction on the film is something to be appreciated. Even studied.

So let’s take a few minutes and hear what Aronofsky had to say about Requiem For a Dream. There’s bound to be wonderful anecdotes about the director skipping with Marlon Wayans down the Coney Island boardwalk or buying ice cream in the Central Park with Jennifer Connelly. Surely this commentary can’t include anything too serious. The movie has a giant refrigerator that dances and sings. It may be gnashing and screaming, but it’s all how you look at it, right? Anyway, let’s get into it. The uppers are about to kick in, anyway.

Requiem For a Dream (2000)

Commentators: Darren Aronofsky (writer, director), MUCH love for Ellen Burstyn (deserved)

Best in Commentary

“When we were amoebas in the primordial soup we were searching for carbon molecules to get high off of.” – Aronofsky on the timeless theme of addiction.

“I really wanted to capture the visual style of Selby’s writing. What that entails is entering the subjective mind of his characters, because, what’s great about Selby’s characters is that you don’t know always where the dreams start and where the dreams end and characters float in and out of ideas.”

Final Thoughts

Aronofsky’s commentary track for Requiem For a Dream is a very interesting listen. The director has a very subdued voice, thick with a Brooklyn accent making it very distinct. He recorded this track by himself, so there’s no bouncing off another commentator about how something worked out or how a particular day of shooting went. He doesn’t need someone to bounce memories off of. He handles it all well by himself here dishing out insight into his vision for the film, the technical side of completing it, and really getting into what it was like filming some of the more harrowing and unforgettable sequences.

He sticks very heavily to Ellen Burstyn and her stunning performance. He also speaks on Marlon Wayans, Jared Leto, and Jennifer Connelly’s performances, though the time and detail given to them is nowhere near as interesting as what he has to say about Burstyn. Nonetheless, the Requiem For a Dream commentary track is absolutely one you should check out. That goes double if you like the film, triple if you’re an overall fan of Aronofsky’s work.

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