July 21, 2017
Film editors usually take pains to make their work unobtrusive, but Requiem for a Dream’s cutting style breaks the rules for a good reason.
Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 adaptation of Hubert Selby’s Jr. novel, is a film so unrelentingly grim that, though it is widely admired, I don’t know many people who’ve sat through it more than once. The film captures the momentum of addiction in a cinematic way, through color, angle, and, more than anything, a cutting style that depicts the sensations of momentum, the subjective grip of addiction so vividly that it instantly became iconic (Last year, we wrote about a parody video that shoehorned the manic cutting onto other classic films.)
The typical 90-minute film averages between 600 to 700 cuts, whereas Requiem contains roughly 2,000 discreet edits.
In this essay, Mr Nerdista shows how Requiem’s editing is its “beating heart,” the key to its ferocity, and the reason that it’s still difficult to watch.