SWSX 2018: Aronofsky Keynote Address–Art is About Disruption

March 10, 2018–In a keynote address at SXSW in Austin, Texas on Saturday morning, director Darren Aronofsky offered his interpretation on his recent drama, mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem.

A commercial flop for Paramount, the movie divided audiences, and was booed at its first press screening at the 2017 Venice Film Fest (which I had witnessed in person), back in September.

Black Swan: Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis

“I wanted to make a film about Mother Earth and how we treat Mother Earth,” Aronofsky said about Lawrence’s character, a pregnant woman who endures a series of traumas while living in a quiet farmhouse with her poet husband. “The way I see we treat Mother Earth is incredibly disrespectful. We pillage her, we rape her, we call her dirt.” He noted how the British don’t use that word.

“That’s why Jennifer played the character the way she did,” Aronofksy said. “There’s a lot of emotion.”

As for Bardem’s character, Afronosky confirmed that he was meant to represent God. “I looked at the Bible and how the Old Testament God is painted,” the director said. “When you think about that God, if you don’t pray to him, he kills you. What type of character does that? For me, it was about interpreting that to human emotion.”

He titled his talk “The 10 Commandments of Indie Film.” “With all humility,” he said, “I’m a hack writer compared to the guy who wrote the Bible.”

Aronofsky sees himself through all his characters. “I’m in every one of my films.  I’m the wrestler. I’m the ballet dancer. Both Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem’s character. I’m every character in every movie.”

“Art is about disruption, especially today, under the Trump administration” he said. “With all the shit going on, you have no excuse to make empty films.”

He urged young artists to focus on “human love, not human violence.”

His advice for them is educational and humanistic: “Never stick a gun in a movie star’s hands. Never stick a gun in anyone’s hands if you can help it.”