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Explaining Life Through Horror By: daniel shuck

Step into the mysterious world of Mother as she attempts to create her paradise amidst the chaos that consumes her. Although she seems to live a simple and quiet life with her husband Him, her world gets turned upside down as his self-obsession destroys the perfect life that she has been trying to create. Even with his many flaws, Mother continues to support Him while he struggles to write another book. When unexpected guests are invited into their home, tragedy occurs and eventually turns Mother’s life into ruins. This film follows along Mother’s perspective as she is seemed to be insignificant and treated cruelly by everyone that enters into her home. Throughout the course of a few days, Mother’s existence appears to halt while time continues on without her, which allows the environment around her to become increasingly chaotic. Follow along as this film focuses on two themes: acting out stories from the Bible, and the evolution of the world that we live in, through a suspenseful thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last secret is revealed (Mother!).

At the beginning of the film, a closeup of a woman is shown from the neck up, burning with fire whisked through her hair. Her face is beaten and there is a glint of fire alive in her eyes. Even though she is being burned by the immense amount of heat, she does not contain any signs of fear and looks rather disappointed as though she is gazing at someone behind the camera. An extreme closeup is then captured to gain the full attention of the audience (Film). Because this is the first image that is seen, the movie automatically sets a tone of action and prepares the audience for what is to be expected next. They are able to connect and feel sorrow as they are able to experience the circumstances that allowed the woman to get into the state that she is in (Mother!).

The lighting used to make this image is shining up from below to create the realistic glow erupting from the floor that she is standing on. When you continue to gaze from the bottom of the screen to the top, the glow begins to darken into the shadow of the background that surrounds her. A green screen was most likely used to create the flames behind her and the makeup was used to make her face look as though she has been beaten by someone or something (Film).

During this scene, the sound of fire can be heard crackling loudly and allows viewers to become as immersed into the scene as possible. It can almost make one feel as though they are a part of the scene and can experience the heat that is being created by the flames (Film).

A moment later, everything becomes peaceful. The house is filled with light and enjoyment can be felt. It almost makes one believe that the beginning scene does not belong and happened to be out of place. For a few minutes, the audience is able to relax. However, when it becomes nighttime, you are reminded of the feeling that arose within you when you experienced the woman on fire. Just when you believe everything is alright, there is a knock at the door. The director allowed the audience to have a glimmer of hope but ultimately takes it away again (Mother!).

Although the knock is simply a man who needs a place to stay, one can begin to think that something terrible must come from this. Once morning arrives, Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) learns that Man (Ed Harris), is an obsessed fan of Him(Javier Berdem), her husband, and wanted to meet him as his dying wish. Things get even more complicated when Man's wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), comes to their house and is welcomed to stay by Him (Mother!).

At this point, we are able to notice that Him does not care to think about the wishes of Mother and believes that she would be fine with whatever he desires. Later, we learn that Him allows them to stay because they are big fans of his work, which builds his ego during a time when he cannot find the motivation to write another book (Mother!).

Even though Man and Woman have interrupted the quiet lifestyle of Him and Mother, the tension fades away and the house becomes peaceful once more. However, the director uses this as a way to trick the audience again into believing that everything is going to be alright. Instead of immediately breaking into a moment of suspense like before, Man and Woman become more comfortable and begin to act as though they are in their own home. They do what they want and do not care to ask for permission (Mother!).

Eventually, Man and Woman walk around and find their way into the creative space of Him and break a large crystal, which was the inspiration that lead Him to write his first few novels. Even though the house had been getting sloppy due to Man and Woman, Him did not seem to care until his own possession was ruined. Him goes into a rampage and boards up the room. Again, we can notice the selfishness that he has when he only cares about problems if they effect him personally (Mother!).

From this point forward the chaos only continues to escalate and the life of perfection that Mother was trying to create has no chance to exist any longer. Up to this point in time in the film, everything that has occurred lays the foundation for the horrific terror that is yet to come (Mother!).

The day after the crystal is broken, the sons of Man and Woman visit the house and to see their dying father. While there, the brothers get into a fight due to statements that are written in his will. The problem escalates until the younger of the two is killed in a fight after being bludgeoned with an object found on the floor. Eventually, the eldest son runs away and the family is left to deal with the death of their son (Mother!).

Time continues to pass by uncontrollably fast and within minutes, the family has a reception after the burial of their son. Surprisingly to Mother, she cannot understand how quickly the event is occurring because all she did was sleep for a few minutes before she was woken up to the noise below. In that little time, the world around her seemed to race forward hours or even days ahead of her. Mother pushes past her confusion and helps to host the reception and watches as her husband makes a toast to the deceased and entertains them with his stories (Mother!).

After a few moments, she walks throughout her house due to the increasing amount of noise that is occurring throughout her home. Every corner she turns, more and more people seem to be filling her house. Every second that passes by, the people become more bold and daring. They begin to make rude remarks towards Mother and one individual even makes advances towards her. Moments later, two individuals, who are sitting on a countertop end up ripping it out of the wall. At this point, Mother is filled with fury and everyone leaves the house (Mother!).

After an argument with husband, Mother exclaims how he does not care for her. She tells him that she does everything for him and all he cares about is being infatuated by the people who enjoy his work. He does not think she is enough for him to feel important. Mother also confronts him as to why they do not have children. One things leads to another, and she they begin to get intimate with each other. Then the screen turns bright white (Mother!).

After the white transition fades away, the scene becomes happy once more. Mother unknowingly senses that she is pregnant, which gives Him the inspiration to write again. Eventually, people begin to come to their house in hordes and chaos breaks out. People come and begin to beat each other, steal, and destroy the house. When you believe things couldn't get any worse, Mother goes into labor and manages to give birth in the room that used to be the creative space for Him. Still obsessed with the infatuation from others, Him offers the people in the house a chance to meet the newborn. Unfortunately, the child is tossed around and dies, followed by the sorrow of everyone (Mother!).

At her final breaking point, Mother manages to get to the basement while being beaten down by the mass of people in the house, and ends up setting fire to the gas tank below her house resulting in her home burning to the ground. To much shock, the final moments show her being carried out of the ashes by Him, who is only slightly injured. He end up taking the only thing that is left of her, her love. He digs inside of her and pulls out her heart, which when scraped away reveals a large crystal inside. Once the crystal is replaced to its rightful home, the house rebuilds, and a new Mother awakes to begin the process again (Mother!).

All of these events contain scattered information relating to the two themes of Bible stories and the evolution of the world. The evidence behind that proves the existence of these themes will now be discussed.

THEME 1: STORIES OF THE BIBLE

EATING THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT: Man and Woman can be considered to play the roles of Adam and Eve. Therefore, the house owned by Mother and her husband Him could be considered the Garden of Eden. The special room in the house that serves as the creative space for Him to get inspired for his work is then thought of as the Tree of Knowledge. Lastly, the crystal, which is used as inspiration for Him can be considered to be the apple from the tree that is not supposed to be eaten. Therefore, when Man and Woman break the crystal, it symbolizes Adam and Eve eating the apple from the forbidden tree. In this case, Him plays the role of God and gets upset that they did the one thing they were told not to do, and were therefore banished from entering the room. Before Mother and Him hear the shattering of the crystal, the scene is bright due to light that is erupting through the widows from outside. However, after Him sees the broken fragments of what used to be the crystal, the scene immediately gets dark and now happens to be dark outside. A closeup shot is filmed of Him as he is filled with rage and his face turns red with fury.

CAIN AND ABEL: The two sons of Man and Women find their way to Mother's house and begin to fight over the will that was created by their father, Man. The eldest is irate because he believes that his mother will keep him out of his share of the money and his younger brother will receive everything. Seconds later, the older brother lunges after his brother and throws his into the wall. A tracking shot follows the brothers as they continue to fight throughout different rooms of the house. A still shot shows the older brother beating the younger one with an object that was laying on the floor in the room. Suddenly he stops and the camera zooms in close to the body of his dead brother lifeless on the floor. Once he realizes what he has done, the older brother runs away and out of the house never to return. "The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast...Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him...Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4: 4-5, 8, 11.

THE BIRTH OF JESUS: Mother is in labor and about to have her child. However, there is no room in her house to give birth because of the mass amount of fans that want the chance to meet Him, who they believe is their savior. Luckily, Him is able to remove the boards that he once but up to block the entrance to his personal inspiration room, which happened to be the only room in the house that was empty. After the birth of the child, Him leaves the room and comes back with three baskets of gifts from the people to celebrate.

GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE: After the birth of their child, Him tries to get Mother to hand him the baby so he can go introduce him to his fans. However, Mother is afraid that they may hurt her child, so she refuses to let go of the baby. After hours of trying to stay awake to ensure Him does not taken the baby away, she begs for him to not allow them to see her child. She knows that if the child is taken from her, he will die at the hands of the people. "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Matthew 26:39.

THEME 2: EVOLUTION OF THE WORLD

This theme builds off of the theory that Him plays the symbolic role of God and Mother represents the life-like illustration of Mother Earth. The home in which they live is considered to be the world. Mother takes care of it and wants to turn it into a place of paradise. Unfortunately, Him allows more and more people to enter into the home, and as time goes on, the mass of individuals begin to steal and destroy their house, followed by a lot of fighting and killing.

Throughout the film, Mother seems to have a supernatural connection with the house. For instance, when she touches a wall, she is able to visualize the heartbeat of the home. Naturally, as events within the house continue to get worse, the image of the heart goes from a bright and vibrant red, which makes it look full of light, and then begins to disintegrate and die. The use of CGI allows the audience to visualize the home as a living thing rather than something constructed out of inanimate building materials. Although mentioned later in the movie, Him makes a statement that helps support the idea of him being God and his reason for creating the world. "Years and day, days and hours, hours and seconds. Through each second it seems as though there is nothing to love, just a vast and silent darkness. But fear not from inside it there is a voice crying out to be heard loud and strong. Just listen. Do you hear that? Do you hear that? That is the sound of life. That is the sound of humanity. (Mother!)"

When Man and Woman enter into their home, Mother gets upset because Him allowed them to disturb the peaceful life that they were attempting to live. However, once they eventually break the crystal, Mother can already feel the impact of danger effecting her world (Mother!). When their children arrive, more destruction starts to occur to her house and parts of the home begin to get damaged, just like the people of the world and how they begin to use the resources of the Earth to create civilizations.

Later in time, Man and Woman hold a gathering to remember their son that was killed. Many of their friends and family come to the house to honor the son (Mother!). Although no one mentions names of any of the guests, they are mentioned under the cast list on IMDb.com. Ironically, some of the names listed are as follows, Fool, Whisperer, Adulterer, Zealot, Defiler, Pisser and more. The names of these people represent many characteristics that can be attributed to those that act out in a negative way, which leads them to sin. These are among the many types of people that continue to bring more negative aspects to the world we live in.

As events begin to progress, people come to their home to meet Him, who they believe is a great and powerful being due to his books symbolizing the Bible. His fans adore him and come from far and wide just to meet him. However, these events quickly turn into people stealing from their house as well as others ripping the walls apart (Mother!). In the world today, many people do not want to have to pay for things that they want and would rather risk stealing from others. Additionally, people get jealous of others and enjoy destroying what they are unable to have. All of these things slowly begin to destroy the world that God has created for us.

Leading up to the birth of Mother's child, the events that occur reach new limits. Simple fights occur within the house, which leads to police coming to control the chaos. They end up getting shot and killed by gangs and then sex traffickers begin to take women hostage. This forces the army to infiltrate the house and creates a scene of warfare. The army then gets killed by a bomb that gets blasted within the house. The aftermath leaves people dead in the rubble or covered in soot and looking homeless. The air is filled with dust, and a few beams of light shine in through the ceiling to barely illuminate the devastation that has occurred (Mother!). Just like in society today, there is so much evil in the world as well as the want for power. Within 15 minutes, the film was able to demonstrate many of the devastation events that have occurred over the past century. Due to the short amount of time, the audience can feel overwhelmed and can relate to how Mother is feeling during the spiraling downfall of her life.

After the death of her child, Mother becomes overly irate and realizes that she needs to find a way to escape out of the life she is living. After barely making it through the people, she manages to find her way down into the basement. Before anyone has the chance to stop her, she creates a hole in the side of the gasoline supply tank for the house and sets it on fire. The house becomes engorged in flames taking Mother and everyone else with it. She is now the woman burning in the flames (Mother!).

One day, the Earth will eventually come to an end. Due to the destruction that we are inflicting to it, nature may no longer continue and the human race might end up being destroyed sooner than expected.

At the very end of the movie, Mother is carried out of the rubble. Her entire body is charred to the point where she is barely recognizable. There is a closeup shot of her face and then the camera alternates to see who is carrying her Shockingly, a small bear of light reflects onto the face of Him, simply dirty with only a few cuts and bruises on his face. Mother asks him how he is still alive. He simply states, "I am I, and you are home." As he sets her fragile body onto a cleared area in the rubble, Mother says to him, "What hurts me is that I wasn’t enough, now I must try again. But I have nothing else to give." Him tells her that she still has her love. He then takes his hands and reaches into her body, pulls out her heart and brushes away the flesh to uncover another crystal (Mother!).

Once Him returns the crystal to its stand, the house slowly rebuilds itself. Through the incredible works of CGI, the film shows detailed work of certain areas of the house being rebuilt back to its former glory. The home returns back to the paradise it was before. A shot they shows a bedroom as shown at the beginning of the movie. However, once the camera captures a closeup of the woman lying in bed, she turns over and is now a different woman who is the new Mother (Mother!).

DIRECTOR Darren Aronofsky

Aronofsky is a director known for creating films into literal pieces of art. By combining amazing cinematography and only excepting the best out of the actors in his films, he is able to create beautiful movies. He is known for challenging his audience to think about the films he creates and draws them in to feel as though they are a part of the story whether they like it or not. Aronofsky likes work on productions in which the story involves the main characters' life going into a downward spiral.

Mother seemed to be the perfect film for Aronofsky to direct. He is known for a few movies based off of religious stories and highly enjoys captivating his audience through the horrors that exist in the shadows. He likes to focus on his characters being pushed past their limits and showing what the human body is truly capable of regardless of the consequences.

Although many people had a misguided perspective of the movie due to the trailer, those that have watched Mother and dig into the meaning behind it find it to be a brilliant work of art. Aronofsky has also directed a few other well known movies such as Noah, Black Swan, and the Wrestler.

Resources used for this presentation are as follows:

  1. Breakdown, B. M. (1970, January 1). Darren Aronofsky's Mother Is The Mother Of All Controversial Films For 2017. But Its Good. Retrieved from http://mbmb14.blogspot.com/2017/10/mother-is-weird-its-artsy-and-its.htmlSikov, E. (2020).
  2. Mother! (2017, September 13). Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5109784/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
  3. Sikov, E. (2020). Film studies: an introduction. New York: Columbia University Press.

Mother! - Written and Directed by Darren Aronofsky Video 1 retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpICoc65uh0

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