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temptation, Requiem for a Dream suggests, are perilously close to one another in the pursuit of dreams. And that condition may litter the road to realization with mines and pitfalls, slicks and rifts, all obscured by the voracity of the dreamer's forward momentum. The insertion of addiction into this mix will redefine that momentum wholly, rippling it into a jagged downward spiral. Such is the overarching theme of both Hubert Selby, Jr.'s 1978 novel and the film based on it, directed by Darren Aronofsky in 2000. And in fact, the movie does not simply echo the novel in sentiment, but is also relatively faithful in terms of characters, plot devices and plot action. Naturally, though, an undertaking such as the cinematic rendering of Selby's dark, troubling and unflinching story runs into the considerable challenge of meeting justifiably high expectations. After all, Selby's novel, though obscure in popular culture circles until the well-publicized acclaim of the film, is and has been a highly regarded piece of literature and an uncannily authentic representation of its bleak subject matter since its first release a quarter century ago. So the constant threat of that oft used phrase, "the book was better than the movie" hovers over this film's very existence. To dispel any suspense, this is mostly an accurate and warranted assumption. The pieces are similar enough in intent. Both follow the lives of four aspiring citizens, each hoping to achieve, even given only modest circumstances under which to operate. Harry Goldfarb and his friend Tyrone are young, middleclass men whose loftiest desires are to open a boutique. In need of capital, they hatch a plan to acquire and disperse one pound of pure heroin. Along for the business venture is Harry's intelligent and attractive girlfriend Marion, who hopes to escape the confines of her wealthy upbringing and find success of her own. Across town, Harry's widowed mother Sara wishes for little more than an accommodating figure with which to sport an old dress. In the simultaneously occurring processes, Harry, Tyrone and Marion are derailed by the demands accrued by their own heroin addictions and Sara's lonely life is plunged further into desperation by a dependence on diet pills. Aronofsky's film illustrates an appropriate understanding of Selby's goals, as it is a work of honest brutality. Its portrayal of addiction as a monstrously destructive and suffocating force is certainly effective, and the gritty wash of the cinematography implies the hazy strangle that Selby so vividly depicts in his narrative. And in the end, both pieces leave the audience with a sense of irredeemableness. The primary characters lose sight of their dreams as the support of their respective addictions takes center stage. Even those who begin the story with social support systems find themselves hopelessly alone in the end. Still, with all of these things in common, the novel and film were distinctive from one another. And such is most tangible with regard to the narrative style, the character development and the overall impression that one is left with upon the completion of each.
Selby's novel is a difficult read for certain. His take on dialogue is rather unconventional, given the absence of quotations or paragraph indentation throughout the novel. However, it doesn't take long to adjust to the approach.
And with adjustment comes appreciation. The winding clumps of dialogue mash together, often obscuring the identity of the actual speaker. And it makes for jumbled, anxiety-driven conversations that mirror the ticking edginess of addiction and craving. The effect is quite remarkable too, as the pacing and rhythm of Selby's prose draw the reader into the most unfathomable and undesirable of scenarios. Soon, the involvement invokes enough character recognition that the lack of traditional punctuation is no longer a hindrance in attributing spoken word to the intended character. And with the hastening of the characters' downward trends came a perceptible intensification of interactions and events. Selby executed the terrible change masterfully, capturing the reader first and then driving him headlong into the onslaught of abhorrent revelations. Undiluted by pauses and apprehension, the action and tragedy of Requiem plays out unhaltingly, forcing the reader to perceive addiction as constant and unrelenting. Ironically, while this was clearly a mutual aim of Aronofsky, his highly stylized interpretation of Selby's unique prose was the most damaging element to the film's poignancy. The…[continue]
"Temptation Requiem For A Dream Suggests Are" (2002, June 29) Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/temptation-requiem-for-a-dream-uggests-133969
"Temptation Requiem For A Dream Suggests Are" 29 June 2002. Web.21 October. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/temptation-requiem-for-a-dream-uggests-133969>
"Temptation Requiem For A Dream Suggests Are", 29 June 2002, Accessed.21 October. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/temptation-requiem-for-a-dream-uggests-133969