Interview with Darren Aronofsky

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Daily Californian: I was at the Q & A last night on campus, and you seemed very hesitant to call yourself an artist. Could you possibly elaborate on that?

Darren Aronofsky: I don’t know, I’ve always had aspirations as I was a young man to be an artist, so it’s strange… I guess to call yourself an artist is a little pretentious. It’s a big compliment when people say “Hey man, it’s not a movie it’s a piece of art.” It’s a huge compliment, so I like that. You know, we definitely work really hard on perfecting everything in the film.

DC: Seeing you develop as an artist, you seem to remain interested in your use and portrayal of “feeling,” you seem to have a very intimate connection with touch, and feeling, and the senses, what is your relationship to feeling (e.g. close ups to mouths eating, fingers touching)? Watching “The Fountain” and “Requiem,” they are very sensual experiences…

DA: I don’t know, I mean I think in filmmaking you’re trying to make very very visual films. I’ve always liked dialogue but it always has a certain place…But I think when you’re going into the visual realm, and when you’re trying to bring an audience into a visual experience, one way to do it is to use all of our different senses and to bring the audience into a character by feeling their senses. I try to connect an audience to how they feel, how something tastes, how something sounds, because I think that it’s something you can relate to that doesn’t need description..

DC: And do you feel that film is the ultimate medium because of that?

DA: I don’t know if it’s the ultimate medium. I think it’s in the tradition of storytelling. Storytelling is something we’ve been doing since we were telling stories around fire as cave men and cave women, and I think that making movies is in that tradition, just another way of doing it. There’s a lot of tools that you have as a filmmaker that you can use to convince people that there is a truth or reality happening. It used to be that someone could tell you any story and it would transport you, and then we got books, and that transported people even more, and then radio, T.V. and film. So it’s just another way of telling stories.

DC: Could you put “The Fountain” in a specific category?

DA: We’ve played around with a lot of things, I mean we’ve called it a psychedelic fairy tale, a metaphysical love story. At one point it was a metaphysical chick flick (laughs). I think it’s a great date movie personally. Women are going to like it because it’s got this incredible love story and Hugh Jackman’s got his shirt off. It’s a very romantic film with a capital “R”. Men are going to like the film because it’s not that cheesy, doesn’t go there, but it also has got these big ideas and big action sequences and tripped out future sequences. People who have gone as couples have this really intense experience, so I think it’s a date movie. And then if you want to break up with the girl go rent “Requiem” (laughs).

DC: Did you lose someone, or did you fall in love making this film? What was the impetus for making it?

DA: In 1999 I turned 30, and I know that’s a young age but at 30 that age kind of sticks to you, and also both my parents that same year got sick. Both got better, but still both got sick. And so, it was the first time I had to deal with mortality in a very front and center way.

DC: Is what we see in this the director’s cut?

DA: Absolutely, it’s my cut exactly.


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