Requiem for a Dream  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 film adaptation of a 1978 novel of the same name. The novel was written by Hubert Selby, Jr.. The film adaptation was directed by Darren Aronofsky, and starred Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2000 for her role.

The film depicts different forms of addiction, leading to the characters' imprisonment in a dream world of delusion and reckless desperation, which is then overtaken and devastated by reality.



In the United States, the film was originally tagged with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA due to a scene of kinky sex in the film's finale (Marion shares a two-headed dildo as a party of businessmen cheer "Ass-to-ass!" and "Cum! Cum! Cum!"), as well as a brief frontal nude image of Marion. Aronofsky appealed the rating, claiming that cutting any portion of the film would dilute, if not outright destroy, its message. The appeal was denied, so Artisan decided to release the film unrated. An edited version of the film was released on video, rated R. This version had the sex scene shortened, but kept the rest of the movie identical to the un-rated version. This R-rated version was only distributed in video-store chains such as Blockbuster as well as some family-oriented department stores such as Target. The edited version contains an alternate title card featuring the words "Requiem for a Dream Edited Version" ensuring that the viewer is aware that the version they are watching is not the original.

In the DVD commentary, Aronofsky implies the "ass-to-ass" scene was based on something he actually witnessed; in the book the particulars of Marion's prostitution are not described.


Requiem for a Dream belongs to the genre of "drug movies", along with films like Trainspotting, Spun and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. However, the film is not only about substance abuse, but also about addiction in a wider sense: the characters are variously addicted as well to television, impossible dreams, old memories, sex, or to success. In the book, Selby refers to the amorphous and unattainable "American Dream," a compilation of the various desires of the story's characters.

All the characters use some form of addiction as a substitute for the actual fulfillment of a dream, choosing immediate sensory placation over a struggle for some higher good. Selby explains the title of his book in this context - it is a requiem for some specific dream ("A" dream) as opposed to the larger, overarching "American Dream" ("THE" dream). While a dream can wither and die (hence the ability to have a requiem for it), the American Dream is persistent and cannot be easily overcome, certainly not by those who are so entangled in it that they cannot see it. The story also asks political questions, mainly that of the relationship between the state and the individual. This is evident where Harry, Tyrone and Sara become institutionalized toward the end of the story, leaving Marion free to destroy her life with prostitution and heroin addiction. With a small number of exceptions (the kindly nurse who talks to Harry when he wakes up after his amputation, the young doctor who tries, unsuccessfully, to help Sara), these institutions are uncaring and impersonal, and ultimately do little to nothing to help the four addicts. There are also examples of structural racism, exhibited towards Tyrone in the southern hospital and prison.

All of the characters in the movie hold on to memories of better times and long for meaningful connection with others. These, along with the fantastic dream worlds and delusions they gradually withdraw into, are violently and jarringly shattered in the film's dénouement by the bleak and brutal reality of their present circumstances. In the DVD commentary for the film, Darren Aronofsky stresses the idea that by choosing to escape reality with denial and delusion, the characters are only destroying themselves further. The hopes they have for connection with each other and with their happier pasts give way as they are separated and subjected to indifferent and exploitative treatment at the hands of strangers.

The repetitive use of the color orange/red to contrast the dreary color of scenes (Sara's hair dye debate and red dress) and oranges (drug distributor peeling the fruit in the truck) is a nod to The Godfather series, where oranges portend disaster.Template:Fact


As in his previous film, π, Aronofsky uses montages of extremely short shots throughout the film (sometimes termed a hip hop montage). While an average 100 minute film has around 1,000 cuts, Requiem features more than 2,000. Split-screen is used extensively, along with extremely tight closeups. Long tracking shots (including those shot with an apparatus strapping a camera to an actor, called the Snorricam) and time-lapse photography are also prominent stylistic devices.

The montage shown when a character injects heroin contains a factual mistake: a closeup of the eye shows the pupil dilating when it actually contracts.

The movie's climactic scenes are cut together rapidly, and are accompanied by a score which increases in intensity. After the climax, there is a short period of serenity during which idyllic dreams of what may have been are juxtaposed with portraits of the four shattered lives.

The movie's montage style has been widely imitated and parodied since the film's release. The Simpsons parodied the effect in the episode I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can in which Homer becomes addicted to Krustyburger's new sandwich, the Ribwich. It was also parodied in an episode of Drawn Together, an episode of Sealab 2021, and a commercial for Nescafé.


Main articles: Requiem for a Dream (soundtrack) and Lux Aeterna (Requiem for a Dream)

The soundtrack was composed by Clint Mansell and performed by the Kronos Quartet. It is notable for its use of sharp, string instruments to create a cold and discomforting sound from instruments frequently used for their warmth and softness (an effect pioneered in film soundtracks by Bernard Hermann).

The soundtrack has been widely praised and has subsequently been used in various forms in trailers for other films and series, including The Da Vinci Code, Sunshine, Saw, and Lost. More specifically, a version of the recurring theme was re-orchestrated for the The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers film trailer. This version is often known as "Requiem for a Tower". It has also been featured in many other adverts and trailers, and as re-mixes on other artists' albums.

The soundtrack also confirmed its popularity with the remix album Requiem for a Dream: Remixed, which contained new mixes of the music by Paul Oakenfold, Josh Wink, Jagz Kooner, and Delerium, amongst others.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Requiem for a Dream" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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