In "Requiem for a Dream" (2001), Aronofsky uses certain techniques of critical cinema to make the audience aware of the "constructed-ness" of the represented material. In doing so he goes against the "norms" of mainstream American cinema that aim to "mesmerize" the audience and "draw" them into the narrative. There are distinct parallels between the techniques used by Aronofsky and those employed by Eisenstein in his critical cinema, namely the use of non-stable footage, to make the camera conspicuous, the use of montage of rhythm, to disrupt the continuity of the narrative, the use of "word play" in relation to the captions and the representation of footage in "reverse", which force an audience to engage critically with the material, and the use of "Brechtian" theatre techniques to alienate the audience from the text. However, Aronofsky does not merely mirror Eisenstein's use of these techniques but rather develops them in his own way. Also, Aronofsky does not attack capitalism and bourgeois axiology in the same way as Eisenstein, but rather aims his criticism at the way in which subjectivity is constituted through the hegemony of the postmodem mass media. Through his critical cinema he subverts this constitution at both an overt level, involving the more blatant and jarring techniques of critical cinema discussed above, and at a subtle level, involving the valorization of a different narrative structure to that of mainstream cinema, namely one that does not edge its way towards some amiable form of Apollonian resolution. I conclude with a brief discussion of how Aronofksy's film constitutes a criticism of image-saturated postmodern culture.
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