HomeOur ObsessionsDiscover Darren Aronofsky’s most shocking moments

Discover Darren Aronofsky’s most shocking moments

From the dark ‘Black Swan’ to the epic ‘Noah’ to last year’s trippy ‘mother!’, these are the most divisive moments of Darren Aronofsky's entire career.

Discover Darren Aronofsky’s most shocking moments

Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to controversy – he’s known for it. Ahead of his birthday, we thought we’d dig into his oeuvre and pluck out some of the most divisive moments of his entire career.

He’s directed features that range from the darkly dramatic Black Swan to the biblical epic Noah, and all the way through to last year’s trippy and much talked about mother! No, we don’t have any idea what it means. Nobody does. But Aronofsky loves to stoke the flames, even if it might ruffle a few feathers. Who doesn’t fancy being a bit cheeky on occasion? After all, upsetting the film commentariat is often par for the course.

Natalie Portman’s disturbing transformation scene in Black Swan

A haunting sliver of dark gothic cinema, Black Swan presented Natalie Portman (Annihilation) with a whole stage to display a career-best performance. A story of obsession, self-destruction, and how giving in to art can cause you to lose yourself – it’s one heck of a surrealist ride.

Not exactly a family-friendly picture, the highlight of the pic is the full-on transformation sequence in which Portman becomes the titular black swan. Disturbing, but weirdly beautiful in an Under the Skin sort of way. We’re not going to take up ballet anytime soon.

Russell Crowe actually contemplates child murder in 'Noah'.

Russell Crowe actually contemplates child murder in Noah

Let’s be honest here: Noah is a challenging film. Russell Crowe (Gladiator) stars in the lead of Aronofsky’s spin on the biblical tale, and the finale of this film put audiences into a tailspin. Besides the weird rock monsters and the spellbinding visual feast that is the opening sequence, Noah has a tone of pseudo-spiritual material infused with a hyper-moralistic tone – it is clawing at philosophy.

The final act of Noah involves our titular hero contemplating murdering an unborn child, believing he’s been presented with a sign to wipe the Earth clean of humanity. It’s a bold take on the source material and one that upset more than a few Christian groups for this very reason.

Regardless, Aronofsky’s choice to have one of the Bible’s most prominent heroes become an almost child-killer must have taken some guts. Props to him for at least trying something completely different.

The biblical references, child murder, and cannibalism in mother!

Here’s the biggie! mother! is the biblical-environmental allegorical W-T-F of Aronofsky’s back catalog. We can’t get our heads around it either. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) represents Mother Earth, or maybe Eve. We’re not sure. There’s also Cain and Abel. But also . . . there’s not.

It’s a dense film – rich in one or two too many themes. There’s a guise of a horror movie, but what begins as a simple invasion of the homestead becomes a thematic melting pot for all sorts of bizarre ideas.

There’s even some pregnancy horror thrown into the mix for added measure, with Lawrence’s newborn baby being eaten alive. Apparently, this represents Jesus. Yep, that happens. And Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) won’t stop fetishizing some odd crystal in his room. Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) turns up as well. Might’ve forgotten that! For no real reason. But she’s there.

The film is controversial, to say the least. Some claim that it’s Aronofsky’s best work to date, but we’re not so convinced. Throughout the entire feature, the director appears to be a bit lost in this utterly self-indulgent piece that comes across as slightly pretentious. There’s a barrage of themes and images without any semblance of drama, and everything lacks significance – Aronofsky might claim otherwise.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad film, but it is the most incomprehensible we’ve ever seen from Aronofsky. It’s almost mesmerizing in the way that it bypasses the visual core of your brain. Now that’s quite a feat, even for the most controversial auteur of our time.

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Nathan Hardisty is a screenwriting student, 'Blade Runner' obsessive, and all-round consumer of everything even vaguely not-mainstream. He likes to pretend he's not a hipster. When he's not writing about himself in the third person, he's walking his dog or writing a story that goes nowhere.

nathanh@filmdaily.co