Four years after the release of Darren Aronofsky’s environmental horror feature Mother!, the director still regularly receives hate mail concerning the polarizing project. During his recent masterclass at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival, Aronofsky answered questions about the depiction of violence in the film and the visceral reaction from the public after its premiere.
“We were nervous about how controversial it was going to be, but then when you release a movie to the world, and there’s so many angry people, you start to wonder, ‘Hold on, what did I do?,’” Aronofsky said. “I get some of the best hate mail ever, which is great.”
Led by Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence, the terrorizing tale serves as an allegory for the continuous destruction of the environment at the hands of humanity. The pair play a married couple who represent a God-like figure and Mother Nature (named Him and Mother, respectively). After they invite another couple—played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer (named Man and Woman—into their home, chaos ensues, and it ultimately leads to the demise of Mother. The film also contains Biblical elements a plenty, with Man and Woman representing the first humans: Adam and Eve.
According the Variety, one person in particular took issue with the presentation of the environmentalism theme, texting the filmmaker and pledging they were going consume coal and do as much destruction as possible against the planet to spite him.
However, he welcomes such passionate reactions. “But also out of that, the type of excitement and passion you get from other people that really connect with the film reminds you why you’re doing it,” Aronofsky said.
Aronofsky’s first project since 2017's Mother! is The Whale, in which Brendan Fraser will star as an obese recluse who attempts to revive his relationship with his teen daughter. During the El Gouna Film Festival class, Aronofsky teased another project—one he’s been working on for nearly his entire career.
“There’s something I’ve been working on for 20 years, a script that came to me 20 years ago that we keep trying to do,” Aronofsky shared. “I’ve tried to do it as an episodic thing, I tried to do animated, I tried to do live-action, I tried every single way, but I actually think it might get done this time. So it’s coming.”