Question breannon hawk Social Sciences

How is addictive behavior portrayed by all the characters in the movie Requiem for a Dream?

How is addictive behavior portrayed by all the characters in the movie Requiem for a Dream?

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Requiem for a Dream (2000) depicts four stories about drug addiction: all four of the central characters are struggling in different ways with this crippling affliction. Sara is addicted to weight loss amphetamine pills, whereas other central characters (Harry, Sara’s son, his girlfriend Marion and their friend Tyrone) are addicted to heroin. The characters all prioritise drugs over all else. Sara is initially prescribed the pills, but in chasing an unrealistic goal ends up abusing them by tripling her dose; she is ultimately committed involuntarily to an institution. The other three become involved in the illegal drug trade, but their plans are scuppered when Tyrone is arrested, compromising their capital. Harry sacrifices his relationship with Marion for heroin, suggesting that she sleep with her psychiatrist to attain the money they need. Aronofsky uses quickly-cut montages to highlight the dark realities of drug abuse, culminating in the film’s ending, which uses this technique to demonstrate the depths to which the characters have sunk: Sara is unresponsive in hospital after electroshock treatment, Harry weeps after waking to find his arm amputated, Marion lies on her sofa clutching her heroin after having been sexually violated by a dealer and Tyrone is depicted in prison, unable to sleep because of drug withdrawal and tormented by memories of his mother. The harsh and gritty realities of their addictions are depicted prior to this in an extremely fast montage which is soundtracked by increasingly intense music. However, it is important to note that Aronofsky does not ignore the reality that drug addicts really enjoy their fix – for instance, the last scene of Marion shows her looking serenely happy, despite the degradation she has had to endure to get her drugs. This is an important element of addiction, as without this ‘reward’, addictive behaviours would not continue.


Requiem for a Dream (2000). [Film]. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. USA: Artisan Entertainment.