Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Darren Aronofsky

How did documentary films end up influencing your fictional features?

I first started studying film when I was an undergraduate at Harvard, with Ross McElwee and Alfred Guzzetti, and they are the guys who pioneered first-person documentary — probably what’s now turned into the entertainment that Michael Moore has turned into mainstream cinema. But it started off there, with “Sherman’s March” and other things. And the program that I was in was very documentary-based. My approach to “Pi,” my first film, came out of our first assignment: we took a 400-foot roll of Tri-X black-and-white film and had to make a portrait of one person. So I tried to turn that into a narrative film.

Do you still see the lessons of that education resonating in the kinds of movies you make now?

Definitely. If you look at “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan,” I took these movie stars and stuck them into real worlds and tried to surround them with people from those real worlds. “Black Swan’s” maybe more stylized [laughs]. Reality television is an extension of documentary as well, and that’s taken over TV. From “Cops” to “Storage Wars,” it’s basically that. It’s hard to make narrative that rings really truthful. And now dramatic, independent films are really disappearing and dying, and most narrative films are these real high-end fantasy superhero films that don’t exist. There’s something amazing about seeing real people in real, dramatic situations. And that can be “I Used to Be Fat,” [laughs] which is a great, great, great show.


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