Classic Scene: Requiem For A Dream

Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 drama Requiem for a Dream is a harrowing look at addiction and the crippling effect it can have on otherwise high functioning individuals with everyday hopes and aspirations. The film was received well on release, garnered decent box office and cemented Aronofsky’s reputation as one of the most exciting filmmakers working. Aronofsky co-wrote the screenplay with Hubert Selby Jr., adapting it from Selby’s novel of the same name, bringing his own visual flare to the project with myriad techniques from timelapses and unconventional camera angles (including fish eye lenses), set to a phenomenal Clint Mansell soundtrack (if you haven’t seen the film you have *definitely* heard its soundtrack). Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans are all heartbreakingly good in their roles, with Ellen Burstyn in particular standing out enough to be nominated for an Academy Award – plus it features Keith David as one of the most hateable characters in existence.

But did you know…

1) The film is famous for Aronofksy’s quick, stylish editing style. He uses rapid, short shots to mimic what he called a “hip hop montage”, inspired by the hip hop music he himself listened to in the 80s. He also uses both split-screens and alternates between extreme close-ups and extreme distance to show both the emotional distance between characters and the crass differences between reality and the characters’ mindsets. 

2) Jared Leto did extensive research on his character by (you guessed it) going semi-full method. He moved to New York and spent his days living on the Lower East Side, where he surrounded himself with people in similar circumstances. “Every night was an adventure whether it was someone missing the vein in their arm and their hand fills up with poison or they overdose or you’re hanging out and it’s like, ‘remember that girl we were hanging out with last night? Well she’s dead!’”

3) Ellen Burstyn’s role was the most physically demanding in the film. She lost over 40 pounds (compared to Leto’s 25 pounds) and often wore heavy make up and prosthetics for her scenes, some of which took more than four hours to apply every day.