If you know me you know I love Darren Aronofsky’s, Requiem for a Dream, and have a weakness for anything that references it. Today I saw this awesome video on Slashfilm.com. It’s Requiem for a Dream in 60 seconds with puppets. It’s pretty incredible. In my opinion, the insanely condensed version of the film reveals the images and sounds we remember are so powerful that applying them to puppets affects me more than a lot of Hollywood films. This 60 second video inspired me to discuss my cinematic evolution and why Requiem for a Dream drastically affected who I am now.
I always loved movies. When I was a baby I couldn’t watch enough cartoons. I loved The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Land Before Time. As I became I young boy I was obsessed with three things: Bruce Lee, Godzilla, and Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park was the first film I remember seeing in a theater. I was 4. I can’t believe my parents brought a 4 year to see dinosaurs kill people, but I will always be glad they did. My dad also introduced my brother and I to every single Bruce Lee and Godzilla film. I loved Bruce Lee. I wanted to be him more than anything. I thought I was a little bad ass. I wanted to fight everyone. I swear to god this happened. I got in a fight with some kid who was picking on my brother at a musical festival our parents brought us to and 6 year old Sean ripped off his shirt and did the Bruce Lee shuffle before punching him in the mouth. I still have the scar on my right pinky to prove it. Discovering Bruce Lee died was one of the most devastating moments of my young life (realizing Santa wasn’t real didn’t compare at all).
As I grew older I needed new martial arts films to replace all the films Bruce Lee never got to make. I filled the void with Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Jet Li until The Matrix smacked my 10 year old head against a wall. It was amazing, and easily became my favorite film, but I was too young to fully comprehend why. I assumed it must have been the amazing special effects which I associated with summer blockbuster movies. For the next 4 years the most important factor when I decided what movie I was excited about was bullet time. If a film had bullet time I was in that theater. I waited in line for Bulletproof Munk! And I loved The One with Jet Li and Jason Statham. I hated Oscar films. They were those boring things only old people liked (what I didn’t realize at the time was I was confusing all Oscar films with manipulative, boring Oscar bait). It’d be easy to claim I’m ashamed of this period, but that isn’t true.
In reality, this was a necessary part of my evolution. During this period I slowly became aware of visual aesthetics. I started watching movies on DVD and realized films weren’t meant to be a square shape. I realized movies could be pretty. This awareness drove me to Fight Club, definitely a major blip on my evolution. Fight Club looked like nothing I had never seen before, and it was smart. It said something. I didn’t necessarily understand what, but that didn’t matter because it was so cool. The fight scenes allowed Fight Club to really engage my teenage mind in an intellectual way. Movies slowly became films, and I wanted to see films that made me think. I discovered Memento and Seven. I thought I was a real hot shot. I introduced my high school friends to these films and they liked them too. I thought they depended on me to introduce them to the good stuff. Turned out they introduced me to the most important film I saw as a teenager.
The summer before my Junior year in High School a friend brought Requiem for a Dream to my house. I had never heard of it and had no expectations (after all how could someone show me a good film I never heard of). The second Harry and Sarah Goldfarb started fighting through split screens I was hooked. It looked like a Fincher film and the hyper stylized choices easily engaged me intellectually, but something unexpected happened. Requiem for a Dream was emotionally devastating and completely blew me away. I didn’t know film could be so powerful and visceral. That it could make me feel so much. Requiem for a Dream isn’t my favorite film or the best film I’ve ever seen, but I will claim it’s the most important film I’ve ever seen. It made me realize films can be a work of art. Many things propelled me to where I am now, but Requiem was definitely the most powerful. It’s the reason I love the films I do now. It’s the reason I wanted to become a filmmaker. I was so obsessed with the film I used an assignment called one line one scene (where we had to make a 1 minute movie with 1 minute and half worth of film that had to have the line, “but it’s green!”) in film school to just to get the film out of my system (which you can watch below). For me, Requiem for a Dream was the moment it clicked. I’m sure all of you have that film that drastically affected what you currently look for in a film, and I’m sure you could go through your past and describe your cinematic evolution. I highly recommend it. It’s a very rewarding experience, and I’m sure we’d all love to learn about your own personal experiences with film.