Back to IndieWire

‘mother!’: 7 Things to Know About Darren Aronofsky’s Crazy Return to Psychological Horror

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem lead the cast of Aronofsky's most secretive project to date.



Cinematographer Matthew Libatique Shot Most of the Film on 16mm

Mansell may be out, but another one of Aronofsky’s most trusted collaborators is in. Matthew Libatique has been behind the camera as cinematographer for every Aronofsky movie except “The Wrestler,” earning an Oscar nomination in 2010 for his work on “Black Swan.” If the director is going to be channeling similar psychological-horror vibes with “mother!,” then it’s very good news he’s got Libatique on board. His work on “Black Swan” didn’t win the Oscar, but it did earn him his second Independent Spirit Award (he won for “Requiem for a Dream” and was nominated for “Pi”) and prizes from critic groups in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Aronofsky confirmed at the Reykjavík Film Festival last October that Libatique shot almost the entirety of “mother!” on 16mm film. Digital cameras were only used on the final day of shooting so that the movie could support CGI-heavy visuals (perhaps that shot of a body being surrounded by an explosion of fire we saw in the teaser). Aronofsky and Libatique are no strangers to 16mm film, having shot “Pi” and “Black Swan” this way. Aronofsky also used 16mm for “The Wrestler.” Regardless of how “mother!” ends up being, it’s safe to assume it’s going to look gorgeous.

Here’s the Only Thing Aronofsky Has Said About the Movie

Aronofsky has only spoken publicly about “mother!” one time; that’s how top secret he wants this movie to be. At the Reykjavík Film Festival in October 2016, he had this to say about his new film:

“I think all my early films were more about ideas. When it came to ‘Noah,’ there was this clear environmental statement in the original gospel, which was interesting to push forward. My latest project probably has similar political intentions behind it, but first and foremost responsibility as a narrative filmmaker is making something that is emotional and can connect with an audience.”



Editor Andrew Weisbaum is Back for His Fifth Aronofsky Movie

Also reuniting with Aronofsky for “mother!” is editor Andrew Weisbaum. The new movie will mark his fourth time in the cutting room after “The Wrestler,” “Black Swan,” and “Noah.” Weisbaum first worked with Aronofsky when he served as visual effects editor on “The Fountain.”

Similar to Libatique, Weisbaum earned an Oscar nomination for his work on “Black Swan,” so his involvement on an Aronofsky psychological-horror movie should only be seen as an added bonus. Whether the director was intending to channel “Black Swan” again or not, he’s clearly gotten most of the band back together to make his vision happen.

You Won’t Have to Wait Very Long to See It

The good news is that the release of “mother!” is just around the corner. Paramount was originally going to open the movie in theaters October 13, but the studio pushed up the release date to September 15 just last month. Why the last minute change? Some have theorized that moving “mother!” into September means Paramount is tempering awards season expectations; after all, studios don’t tend to release their best efforts in September.

However, it’s more likely that Aronofsky doesn’t want there to be much breathing room between the film’s fall festival screenings and the theatrical release. The longer waiting time there is between September festival berths and an October theatrical debut, the more the chance of spoilers getting leaked increases, and that’s just what Aronofsky has been fighting to protect by keeping the film so guarded. The movie will premiere at Venice and screen at TIFF, before opening just a week later.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Film and tagged , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox