Requiem For a Dream

22/02/2014

Last night I watched the film Requiem For a Dream which is one of, if not the best, films about the “dark” side of life which is very common and closer to home than we would like to admit. If you have never watched this film you should try and find the time to do so, it is available to watch online for free with a quick Google search.

A brief overview of the film is that it revolves around the lives of the characters Harry Goldfarb, his mother Sara Goldfarb and Harry’s girlfriend Marion Silver. The film is set around Coney Island in New York and it focuses on how mundane life can be when you do not have the funds to live as you would like to live. Sara Goldfarb is an elderly widow who lives a lonely existence that revolves around the television, when one day she receives a telephone call to say she has been selected to appear as a contestant on a television game show.  During a visit to his mothers Sara tells Harry how depressing and lonely her life has become, she tells her son the reason she musters up the will to live and get out of bed in the mornings is to appear on this television show. For her appearance on TV Sara wants to wear a special red dress she has but she can’t fit into it because she has gained weight so she takes diet pills to lose the weight to fit into the dress. The dress is special to her because she wore it to her sons graduation, the red dress is symbolic of better days when she still had a family and happiness in her life. She takes the diet pills whilst sitting at home watching infomercials. To me this is trying to symbolise how fake everything has become, our loved ones sit at home neglected whilst the world is just out to sell us anything and everything, whether it be a fad diet or a shiny new car. We gain possessions but lose what we had all along.

In the case of Harry and his girlfriend Sara it shows the pitfalls of drugs and youth. It shows how they are casual drug users in their apartment where they hold parties with lots of music. At the start of the film the two are clearly in love, the film is about them trying to achieve their dreams. Marion is a fashion designer and her dream is to open her own store and Harry’s dream is to provide for the women he loves to make her happy (The poor misguided man!).  Harry, along with his friend Tyrone, turns drug dealer to try and achieve his goals. They make enough money to open a store but everything turns upside down when they are busted by the police. Harry becomes a heavily dependent drug user whilst Marion turns to prostitution in order to gain access to funds. Things come to a tragic head at the end of the film.

Throughout the film the basic underlying theme is money and the lack of it. Each one of their dreams was to just be happy and in the process of trying to achieve their dreams they lose grip on reality and go crazy. To me the film highlights that at a basic fundamental level our society is very sick but we choose to ignore this. The film highlights how people become trapped into the environments they are born into. I can relate to this film a lot because I myself am trapped in an environment I was born into, I too am in the wilderness trying to achieve my dreams. I gave up a secure, decent paying job to go on this pursuit, some people said that was a crazy move and many still hold that view today. But unlike the people in this film and 95% of the people in real life I feel truly alive every single day. When I worked in an office I was brain-dead, I was a robot, a slave to the mundane 9-5 existence. It is this mundaneness, this emptiness that people take drugs to escape from, they want release from the walls that have been built around them.

But at the station I’m currently at in life all the pitfalls are there. The drugs are there if I wanted them. It was only two months ago that my friends brother who grew up on my street died of a drug overdose, gone in his late twenties. This film reminded me of the old story regarding Martin Hannett, the Manchester music producer who died aged 41 of heart failure after he descended into heroin addiction. Some say this descent started when Factory Records chose to buy the Hacienda nightclub instead of new recording equipment. Ironically the Hacienda is well known for its drugs and some would say it was the birthplace of the Ecstasy/House revolution. Who knows what would have happened if Hannett got his studio instead of the world getting the Hacienda.

I use this example of just how powerful and destructive drugs are, not that any of us need reminding. Like I say on a fundamental level our society is sick, very sick indeed. But we don’t try to fix things, we just carry on in our broken ways. I left my job because I could see that I was just playing the corporate game like everybody is programmed to do. But I could see I would never get any money that way. Money is the game changer and it is very, very elusive. In a cash orientated world where greed is king nobody wants to share what they have so we have a society where the have-nots sling it out against each other for the scraps that are thrown their way by the people who do have money and control the game. It goes back to what I wrote about my family’s old business and its demise, we are no longer a part of a community or families, we are just a cog in a machine that works effortlessly in expanding the wealth of the owners and operators of the machine. Nothing in life is going to change unless we make it happen and until we make that choice to make the necessary changes there is going to be a lot more requiem for dreams along with wasted lives.

This article is authored by Lee Cooper

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