Last year's Mother! was one of the most talked about (and perhaps most hated) movies of 2017, mainly because despite it being marketed as a psychological horror, it left some viewers wondering what the hell happened. There are a few theories about what director Darren Aronofsky was going for, but in his hour-long keynote address during SXSW today, the director talked a bit more about its deeper meaning, according to Variety.
“I wanted to make a film about Mother Earth and how we treat Mother Earth,” he said about Jennifer Lawrence’s character in the film. “The way I see we treat Mother Earth is incredibly disrespectful.” Lawrence plays a nameless pregnant woman living in a quiet farmhouse with her poet husband, played by Javier Bardem, who turns out to be an allegory for God. From random visitors, or worshippers, to some pretty gory scenes that don't seem too far off from today's general chaos, the meaning makes sense when you put it all together. “I looked at the Bible and how the Old Testament God is painted,” he 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."
In the talk, aptly titled The Ten Commandments of Indie Film, the director shared how he got his start in film, the religious themes that show up in plenty of his movies, as well as the political importance of creating in the current social climate. "Art is about disruption, especially today,” he said. “With all the shit going on, you have no excuse to make empty films.” The director also discussed his past successes such as cult classic Requiem For A Dream and described the pushback some of his previous films got before finally hitting theaters, including his 2010 film, Black Swan and his 2014 film Noah.
Aronofsky says there were three months of rehearsals for Mother! and he made sure the actors understood the allegorical meaning behind their characters, which according to an interview with Indiewire last year, he has previously said to include symbolic representations for Adam & Eve, religious zealots, and a handful of Biblical characters.