Despite having never seen a film directed by Darren Aronofsky, I really enjoyed this videographic essay…So naturally I wanted to figure out why. The narrator’s voice has a thick, but intelligible British accent that I would describe as pleasant– but not as appealing as the narration work of Tony Zhou (something about that guy’s voice is just captivating in my opinion). The editing is nothing extraordinary from a technical standpoint, so that’s probably not why I can’t let this video go. Even the visuals used in the essay are captivating, but not as stunning as some of the shots used in supercuts I’ve watched this semester. So maybe what stuck with me wasn’t an aesthetic decisions made in the video, but rather its academic argument – so I began to diagram the video’s structure.
The video starts by introducing Aronofsky’s work. It does so by claiming that Aronofsky has reinvented himself stylistically across many of his films. Then, the essay gives the thesis – Aronofsky is obsessive in his work, and obsession is a major theme of his work. This is the end of the “introductory paragraph” and it is marked by a transition sentence: “Often an artist’s first work is his most direct, a pure iteration of what he is.” This line lets the viewer know that the narrator is about to talk about Aronofsky’s first film, Pi, and is likely going to relate the subject matter of the film to the thesis statement that was just put forth. This is in fact, exactly what happens. Close-up shots of numbers and formulas are juxtaposed with acts of physical aggression resulting from frustration and – obsession. All this is simultaneously expressed in the voiceover. The footage of Pi stops though, and is replaced with footage from The Fountain. This shift in source material is also marked by the narrator’s use of a transition sentence: “An obsessive tries to control the uncontrollable.” Which also acts as the topic sentence of the next “paragraph”. This pattern of – topic sentence, evidence from footage and voiceover, transition sentence – is repeated several times, until the narrator has reached the end of his video and is ready for a conclusion.
The conclusion though, is where I think the video stands out. Up to this point, everything that’s been said has followed the format of a regular essay. The visual elements have certainly added to the experience, but honestly I think the narration would hold up just fine if I was given a transcript of it to read instead. To end the video, the narrator states that The Wrestler was a rebirth for Aronofsky. The film was a critical success that redeemed his obsession with perfection in The Fountain which received a lukewarm response. Instead of ending the video after this final point though, there is one final supercut depicting the theme of rebirth and its presence in every film that has just been presented to us in the video essay. This effectively induces the revelation that Aronofsky’s body of work doesn’t only focus on obsession, but the endless pursuit of emotional revelation. The repeated death and rebirth that links all of his films and creates a thematic cycle of attempt after attempt at creating the human condition.