24/06/2016

Requiem For A Dream - Tyrone

Thoughts On: Requiem For A Dream


This is second part of my analysis of Aronofsky's masterpiece where we'll pull apart the role of Tyrone C. Love in this story of addictive tragedy.


Tyrone's narrative journey is the simplest, but is nonetheless poignant. It's with Tyrone that key themes and reasonings behind other characters' motives are established and explored. To understand these all we have to do is take a look at his name: Tyrone C. Love. Love is a theme-based characternym that encapsulates his character and conflict. If we take a moment to look at other characternyms we can get a sense of the roles of each individual. We have Marion Silver, Harry Goldfarb and Sara Goldfarb. It's with the latter three characters that an idea of hierarchy, of material, surface-level worth comes into play. This is, in short, because these characters are much more shut-off and emotionally secluded than Tyrone. We'll get into specifics however with their stories in later posts. To bring it back to Tyrone, it's clear from the start that he is the emotional backbone to this story. All of the other characters face physical conflict, they face a tangible, looming ideas of personal fault. Tyrone on the other hand is a peripheral character with peripheral conflict. This in no way means he isn't crucial to the film both in terms of plot and narrative message. To see Tyrone's contribution to the Requiem all we have to do is look to his mother. Everything Tyrone does is fuelled by a promise to his mother that he will 'make it`. Knowing that, it's best we now pull apart the title of this film. A requiem is religious mass, a way of remembering the souls of the dead. This translates the title to: Mourn A Dream. The initial interpretation you'd have of this title is to see it as the definition of the narrative - that what we see is a melancholic insight into addictive spirals. This is a valid enough interpretation as it reflects what we are made to feel - helpless. We are made to watch self-destruction, assisted at times, with no way of reaching out and helping, or even perceiving a way out for these characters. However, I believe this title speaks best not for us, but for the individual characters. In the first part I made the point of destiny, that all characters have control over what they do. Moreover, they start out with inevitable character traits that act as their hamartia - the thing that will kill them. This means that all actions we see in this film are an act of mourning, are an act of wallowing in a poisonous milieu. To understand this, let's look at Tyrone, coming back to the idea that his core conflict is of his mother. As said, he promises to her that he will make it. Her response is: 'all you have to do is love your mumma'. This is Tyrone's conflict in a nutshell. All his actions are metaphorically a requiem for the dream he has for his mother, the memory he has of her.

To truly understand Tyrone's character simply watch this 2 minute deleted scene:


The first time I saw this I questioned how on Earth it didn't make it into the final cut. The answer Aronofky gives on the commentary track is 'because of the timing' as despite it being a 'great scene' and 'important for Marlon's character' it 'ultimately...slowed down the film too much'. This is completely understandable, again, considering the previous post - 'A Sensory Masterpiece'. Pacing and tone are essential to this movie's impact on the audience, and of course Aronofsky most probably knows best (and was in the editing room) so, you can't really dispute the decision. However, the insight into Tyrone's character here is pivotal to understanding what he means to the film. It's in this tiny segment that the film actually completes itself, actually rounds off a crucial detail of all 4 characters. What I'm talking about here is the question of 'why?'. All characters provide reasons as to why they are themselves and why they act as they do. With Marion and Harry we get these confessions when they are alone in their intimate embraces. They, in short, make each other feel good, they make each other feel like a real person or beautiful. What's most important is that they fill gaps. With Sara, her reasoning is given in one of the greatest singular scenes in the film - her monologue. I won't go into details of this just yet, but suffice to say, it's the epitome of 'Requiem'. So, three out of four characters in the final cut get to make their confessions, but Tyrone doesn't. However, we now know that his mother died when he was 8 and is the most intimate and loving memory he holds - which gives reason to his last name: he inherited an idea of 'love' that will stick with him throughout his life. It's knowing this that we should ask of his 'why?'. Why is Tyrone with Harry, does he sell drugs, take drugs, end up in prison? The answer comes back to the idea of gaps and brings in the idea of addiction. All characters have emotional holes in their lives. Sara's is her husband, family, friends, son. Harry's is linked to his father, friends and mother. Marion's is linked to her parents, friends and sexual partners. Tyrone's is his mother. The gap left here is tangible - she died. Whereas Sara fills gaps with T.V, her red dress, food, the other three characters primarily use drugs. This is perfectly demonstrated in this scene with Marion:



And this scene with Harry:



The drugs make them numb, or ignorant to their own depression and personal downfalls. But, Tyrone, again, doesn't really have this moment. This is what makes him seemingly an insignificant character, However, the truth of Tyrone is that he is the most real of all the characters. By this I mean that he is closest to normal, which translates his journey into a peripheral commentary or centre point by which we should compare the other characters (a control or norm test). In this instance, we need to recognise that Tyrone's gaps are tangible, but the expression of them isn't. Drugs are a means to an end with him. His addiction isn't as powerful as it is with the other characters. All he wants is emotional support. This means that whilst Marion and Harry take drugs to forget parents, to forget depression, reality, Tyrone doesn't. His version of this scene comes with his girlfriend, Alice. She is his drug essentially. She is his replacement for his mother - much like Marion is for Harry (but we'll save that for another time). However, Alice doesn't fill gaps like Marion does for Harry and vice versa. She merely soothes pain. This is why she is best compared to the scenes above with this:



To clarify, Tyrone looks into the mirror, probably high, impressed with what his money has bought him before thinking about his mother, giving us the key idea of her only wanting him to love her, before the girlfriend distracts him and the two have sex. What this all means is that Tyrone's problems in life cannot really be solved. Harry and Sara have each other, they just can't connect. The same goes for Marion and her parents. And at the same time, Harry and Marion themselves can't truly get along (in the long term) especially when you bring in their personal issues and drugs. All characters have a conflict rooted in a theme of relationships which ultimately makes them feel alone (as best exemplified with Sara and her monologue). But, the truth is, Tyrone is the only one who is truly alone - he has no family. This is why his gaps are tangible, but his means of filling them aren't. He can't attempt to reconcile a relationship with a family member, or even form a new one with a girlfriend. And this is because of money.

This brings us full circle. Tyrone is told by his mother in response to the notion of making it big, that all he has to do is love her. He is raised with an idea of love and monetary success being two separate things - as almost all of us are (you don't have to give your mother much for her to love you). However, what the world teaches him as he grows up is that your worth is often found in what you have to give. You matter when you have money, when you have a car, a home, trinkets like a sliding mirror. However, when all of that goes away, so does the care, attention, love - Alice. Tyrone taking drugs and selling them is the product of his broken relationship with his mother. She loved him and he wanted to show his love to her by making it - presumably giving her a better home, a better life. When she died Tyrone was left with the latter emotion - he wants success as a means of showing love. This is his Requiem to his past. He mourns his mother with every drug deal, every buck, dollar, wad of cash he makes and saves. It's seeing this play out, Tyrone getting rich, finding love, or at least a representation of it, but then having it taken away that we get this...


... Bicycle Thieves. This is the greatest social tragedy of all time that perfectly demonstrates a cyclic idea of futility inside an impoverished milieu. There are definitely aspects of Bicycle Thieves in Requiem For A Dream, but, the two films aren't exactly the same. The crux of Bicycle Thieves is in the title: it's 'thieves'. Antonio has his bike stolen from him and is led on a journey that ends with him becoming a petty thief himself. Tyrone's mother was arguably stolen from him, but by who? This is where true tragedy steps into this film. There is nothing that Tyrone can fight against but himself. He holds responsibility for his life. He is responsible for everything that happens in this film. That's the sad fact of Requiem For A Dream and is the reason why there are 4 characters with no real antagonists. They are all their own worst enemies, there is no one to blame in this narrative but themselves. It's in this that we can thoroughly understand why the Requiem is for a 'Dream'. A dream is a hope, it's an idea, it's a felling. But, what it isn't is a bicycle that would secure a job, that would feed a family. You could argue here that the drugs are a symbolic bicycle, but to subscribe to that idea is to completely overlook the entire film. It's drugs that catalyse the downfall, that destroy these characters' lives. This is why it doesn't help to appeal to external forces, to an idea of fate or destiny. All characters choose to take drugs, to slip down an easy, but very dangerous path. They don't choose to pick up a bicycle, to work hard, to feed a family, they want to make it big. and do so with little effort and in little time. This is what kills their dream - themselves.

It's with Tyrone that we can see both themes of love and of need, to then also establish that this is a film about personal choice. But, most importantly, it's through Tyrone that we get the clearest idea of futility and a dream to be mourned. Next, we look in on Marion and delve deeper into the film, so stick around for that.





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Bambi - Man & The Circle Of Life

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Black Venus - Mensch?

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