Not in a long while has a movie come along that has polarized audiences. Darren Aronofsky, the man who brought us Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream has released his latest Mother! onto the world and the world has very much responded. People have either left the cinema halfway through, demanding a refund, as well as labeling the movie as one of the worst ever made, or people like myself have left the cinema and have claimed the film a masterpiece. Much like poetry, you will only get something out of Mother! based on what you already have inside of yourself, and what I got out of this film was a whole lot of existential truisms.
From start to finish I was on the edge of my seat. One of the most impressive things about the film, other than its plot, is the fact that no music is used – something most movies rely on in order to influence audience emotion. This says a lot, especially when I never noticed there was no music as I was watching the film, I only found this out afterwards when researching more about it.
A literal interpretation of the film is that of religion and the saying “Everyone is welcomed in the house of God”, with the movie exploring the repercussions of such an invitation. Yet a deeper look at the film reveals a man-woman dichotomy in direct relation to, and interaction with, nature. In the film this is symbolised by both the birth of a baby, but more directly by the couple’s house – which is the manifestation of technology and for which represents the conflict of ego brought to life when man and nature meet. Technology, such as a house, comes from the intersection between man and nature when they are viewed as being distinctly different from one another and therefore must be crafted into order at the helm of desire and control. However, chaos and entropy often always ensues.
Man’s direct relationship to nature results in both technology and the creation of new life, yet the role of mother is the realisation that women, and Mother Nature, are the gatekeepers for all existence in the first place. Men end up using, and manipulating, both for identity creation and for identity fulfillment. The hidden message of the film is that although women’s intuition is always there, we tend to ignore it through self-medication, or through the love we freely gift to men without also accepting that same love for ourselves in return. This ends up blinding us to reality, but also helps to feed the ego of man. The film criticises both genders equally, however, in a not-so-subtle way, reminds women of the power we innately possess that men do not, and yet we give such power away freely.
The overall message of the film is that when we are blinded through the love of self – either through attachment to another or through ego fulfillment, we in turn gift suffering to everything defined ‘not as the self’, which is every other human being on the planet, and nature herself. This, of course, also leads to the demise of ourselves! Darren Aronofsky wrote the script in five days, although I am sure the idea and concepts took a lot longer. But I wish I could lick that man’s brain for the pure genius he has unleashed onto the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: art is the goal of philosophy, and this artistically packaged work of fiction captures the truth of life exquisitely.