I recently went to watch Darren Aronofsky’s latest movie, and like all box office films with big name actors, I had a sense of curiosity. From the vague trailer, the incredibly divided opinions of the film and the simple fact that I’d formerly been acquainted with some of Aronofsky’s previous work (“Requiem for a Dream” is a masterpiece and a firm favourite of mine), I was intrigued. The initial reaction I had upon watching it was that of sheer bewilderment.
While the visuals of the film were exceptional and disturbingly intense per classic Aronofsky fashion, the plot left me confused as to what the overarching message was. With so many different but major moments throughout the film, I failed to pick up on the film’s point, even though I knew that there was definitely a message and it was something very significant.
Eventually, the film’s allegory became clear to me, and the film’s use of several key biblical references was evident during initial watching. Javier Bardem’s role as a God-like “creator” figure is central to many (if not all) of the events that occur, yet the film maintains a constant focus on his loyal wife, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is a Mother Earth figure. She is devoted to renovating their house and appears to have a deep connection with the heart of the house. Even though it isn’t explicitly mentioned, she essentially IS the home. The couple’s relationship is put under immense strain when various guests (including Ed Harris’ “man” and Michelle Pfeiffer’s “woman”) invade their home and disrupt their tranquil life.
However, the film is not simply a bunch of biblical analogies; Aronofsky clearly intended for it to have a much broader message than that. The damage that the house incurs at the hands of all of the unwanted guests increasingly frustrates Mother, and by the end of the film, she retaliates by destroying herself and the very house that she dedicated so much time and effort to. One could argue that this is a reflection of humans’ treatment of our planet.
In a recent interview with TIME, Aronofsky himself describes “Mother!” as a “wake up call to humanity” in the sense of taking global issues and “reducing them to a human scale.” In an age when there seems to be a natural disaster being reported about somewhere on a weekly basis, talk of climate change and the impact of our actions on the planet is now more than ever a pressing matter.
It is common knowledge that our planet’s natural resources are finite, however we still continue to use up these resources at an exponential rate and destroy our planet in the process. Ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, Central and Southern Europe witnessed the most extreme heatwave in over a decade this summer which caused forest fires in some places and hurricanes and tropical storms have battered the Caribbean and parts of the U.S. recently.
It’s vital that we take note of how our actions are affecting the planet and we find more sustainable methods if we are to preserve it for future generations. After all, there is only so much the planet can take before it is damaged beyond repair. “Mother!” demonstrated what could happen if we continue to ignore Mother Nature’s warnings.
The film is clearly 100% metaphorical in conveying its point. To consider the sequence of events literally is to miss out on the film’s wider message — the film then ends up seeming more nonsensical than logical. This is perhaps why so many have judged the film to be “a disaster” or “pretentious” and why it has even managed to score an F (the lowest possible rating) from the Las Vegas CinemaScore Club.
While at first it seemed challenging, once I realized that the events in the film are not only metaphorical but are communicating a very important and very relevant message, it dawned on me that “Mother!” is not a flop but rather an incredibly subtle stroke of genius.