[SPOILERS for mother! ahead.]
Director Darren Aronofsky says he’s considering turning his controversial film mother! into an opera. The movie incarnation of mother! dropped at the box office two weeks ago and performed poorly, taking in only $7 million its first weekend while scoring a rare “F“ on CinemaScore. Marketing for the film gave audiences the impression they were going to a horror movie but the film Aronofsky actually delivered was far from the usual Hollywood scare-fest.
Aronofsky and star Jennifer Lawrence have been outspoken in the wake of mother!‘s disappointing release, taking to the interview circuit to defend the movie and explain its allegorical meanings. Audiences were seemingly both baffled by the movie’s metaphorical story and offended by its sometimes over-the-top imagery, and Aronofsky maintains this is exactly the effect he was going for (though one assumes he hoped the movie would make a little more money in the process).
The suddenly-chatty Aronofsky returned to Reddit this weekend for another round of mother! talk and indicated he’s ready to take the already-extreme film in an even more bizarre direction. Unless Aronofsky was just messing with Reddit, it seems that he and Johann Johansson are “thinking” (to quote Aronofsky directly) about turning mother! into an opera now.
Composer Johann Johansson (Arrival) was actually working on a score for mother! when Aronofsky decided the movie would be better without music. Johansson’s score wasn’t used, but the composer was still given a credit as “sound and music consultant.” Turning mother! into an opera would give Johansson a chance to develop the musical ideas he never got to use on the movie, and then some.
With its story structure – basically the same situation playing out multiple times, each time building to ever-larger crescendos of chaos and madness – perhaps mother! could lend itself to an operatic approach. One could imagine the crazy supporting characters singing their roles with the requisite gusto, though it’s harder to picture how you could translate Jennifer Lawrence’s relatively meek, restrained lead performance into something that could be sung opera-style. If nothing else, the film’s extended bonkers final sequence complete with human sacrifice and cannibalism would make for an intense live experience.
If he’s not just kidding (a definite possibility), maybe Darren Aronofsky has dreamed up the perfect way to re-imagine his movie and somewhat redeem his ideas. Or maybe this is another case of the director being a bit too impressed with himself and his own ideas. The one certain thing is that Aronofsky loves his mother!, even if audiences largely hated it, and he’s not going to stop talking about it. Even if mother! fails to receive new life as an opera, perhaps it will find an audience as a cult film somewhere down the road.
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