Uses of Lighting in Requiem for a Dream

This week I will be discussing the film Requiem for a Dream.  It is based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr. and directed by Darren Aronofsky; they worked together to write the screenplay.  The film was released in 2000 and stars Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans.

Requiem for a Dream features both high-key and low-key lighting to help dramatize the events in the film.  The theme of this movie is addiction, and the instances of low-key lighting makes the scenes dark and shadowed, mirroring the plot and the deteriorating lives of the main characters.  In the early parts of the film, high-key and natural lighting is used to help convey the optimism and aspirations of the leads.  This scene uses lots of high-key lighting to show an instance where the character is still hopeful and happy.

As the film progresses, the good intentions that the characters once had begin to unravel as they make poor choices in attempts to achieve their goals.  The intensity of lighting also continuously lessens with this progression.  Low-key lighting helps to express the general darkness that surrounds the characters.

The end of the film features lots of ethereal three-point lighting to depict dream sequences and to give the feeling of a world outside the characters’ reality.  The lighting is soft but bright, and creates a hazy filter.

The lighting styles used in this film are beneficial for accurately portraying the emotional intensity of the plot.  The techniques used throughout the film contribute to the theme by using light to depict the downward spiral that comes with drug addiction.  The genre of this film is psychological drama, and the low-key lighting is well suited for capturing an authentic mood.  I don’t believe this film would have made such a large impact on audiences if different lighting choices had been used.

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