I receive my frame, which comes from minute #33 of the film. At first I am dismayed: it is barely identifiable as being from Requiem. What the hell am I going to do with this?
But then something, possibly the contorted figure who is the subject of post #5, reminds me of an interview with Adrian Lyne I came across recently (on this DVD) in which he talks about the inspiration for the look of the demons that plague the protagonist of Jacob’s Ladder (1990):
“I was very interested, for example, in Francis Bacon’s pictures, which are horrifying when you look at them. They’re smeared and blurred and you think ‘My God, what’s happening underneath that?’ So I tried to do the visual equivalent of that.”
Jacob Singer is tormented by visions of he can’t quite make out what. Possibly there’s nothing there at all. The lack of definition infects his world: everything dissolves into a sea of uncertainty. Things fall apart.
It occurs to me that Darren Aronofsky inflicts the exact opposite kind of torture upon the characters in Requiem: they are haunted by painfully vivid images of paradises lost or never found that they cannot ever (re)gain.
Everything is held up to the pictures in their mind’s eyes (which might also be photographs that they can hold in their hands) and seen this way, as half of a split screen, the real world can’t help but seem gray, drab, hopeless, hellish. All of their endeavors are doomed to “failure,” because the kind of total happiness they pursue is unattainable.
And suddenly it hits me. When you think about Requiem, what’s the first image that pops into your head? I’m guessing it’s this one:
My frame might look like it comes from another film entirely, but it is crucial to the way the Requiem works. It is the yin to that quintessential image’s yang: without Tyrone’s lush, idyllic sense memory of what it feels like to be loved, Harry Goldfarb’s infected arm couldn’t exist.
“Generally speaking, things have gone about as far as they can possibly go when things have gotten about as bad as they can reasonably get.” Reasonably, in movies, is a question of proportion. And so:
Proposed: Requiem‘s punishing ending is effective to the same extent that it is (or is not) counterbalanced by images like the one at the top of this post.
To be continued . . .