We Need to Respect Jennifer Lawrence, er, I Mean the Earth
Aronofsky has actually commented on how mother! can be viewed as an allegory for climate change. Here are his full statements in The Hollywood Reporter:
It was the strangest thing. It came out of living on this planet and sort of seeing what’s happening around us and not being able to do anything. I just had a lot of rage and anger and I just wanted to channel it into one emotion, one feeling.
So what’s the point of making a movie that explores both concepts of religion and the degradation of the environment? Well, here in the United States, there’s a little problem with people in power somehow refuting the fact that climate change exists, a point virtually all scientists and people in general agree upon. Here’s a quote from Representative Tim Walberg (a Republican from Michigan) commenting on global warming.
Well, as a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.
That right there is a problem, and it is a problem I believe mother! is trying to address. Any time a natural disaster seems to come around, there are plenty of people who claim that God will save us. God will figure it out. However, the viewpoint of mother! is clear that God is not going to do anything to protect Jennifer Lawrence/Earth. It’s not that the film argues God will not do anything because he doesn’t exist. He does exist. In fact, he’s all-powerful as evidenced by the fact he survives the massive explosion at the end of the film. The film exemplifies the primary tenets of theistic existentialism: God exists; He’s just not going to save us.
It’s not all doom and gloom there. There is an all-powerful force that can save us. We’re just not listening to it.
Throughout the film, Lawrence/Earth repeatedly tells people not to do things. She tells people to not sit on the sink, which eventually breaks, causing the house to flood. She tells people to give her back her baby, which the crowd ends up killing. Although viewing the baby as Jesus Christ is certainly one interpretation, the baby could also be viewed as simply all the gifts bestowed upon us by the planet. And humanity treats those gifts with absolutely no consideration.
I also don’t think it’s a coincidence the way Lawrence’s character ends up killing all of the house guests (who represent humanity) is by spilling oil onto the floor, lighting it on fire. God may not save us, but the Earth can, and it’s sending humanity some very clear signs that something is wrong.
Combining the story of Adam and Eve with the current issue of climate change is very deliberate. Adam and Eve is arguably the most famous example of humans being given some pretty explicit instructions, ignoring them, and suffering severe consequences. The first half of the film sets up a story we are all familiar with and then showing there are still lessons to learn from it.
People can view mother! as a lot of things. It’s a religious allegory. It’s a disturbing psychological thriller. It comments on what people need to start doing to protect the planet. This is certainly not going to be the last think piece written on the film, nor should it be. It’s a fascinating movie that’s worthy of additional insight.
What did you think of mother!? Do you think I’m way off-base with my assessment? Let us know in the comments.
Images: Paramount Pictures