Numbers, conspiracy, science fiction: it all adds up to DARREN ARONOFSKY's Pi (it), the best American indie for years. Words: Nigel Floyd
As the end of the century approaches, we are all liVing in the shadow Of the Millennium Bug Alarmist news stories COHJUTE? up a technophobic nightmare, a Doomsday scenario in which the numbers that we have manipulated for thousands of years take their revenoe Computers Wiil Crash, the
'...what I wanted to do was to take science fiction back to the psychological, in the tradition of Philip K. Dick's novels, or Rod Serling's scripts for The Twilight
Zone...’ Darren Aronofsky
banking system Will be plunged into chaos, planes Will plummet from the sky, and nuclear missiles Will be launched in errOr
Tapping into this millennial zeitgeist, Darren Aronofsky's Pi or) takes us inside the disturbed mind of recluSive irmitiitw‘itaticiai‘i Max Cohen, whose Obsession With the Pyt. agorean notion that numbers hold the key to
the secrets of the universe takes him to the edge of madness — and possibly
eyond. Inspired by the cyber-punk Visuals of Japanese filmmaker Shinya
Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man, the stark black-and-White of Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novels, and the retro- future designs of Terry Gilliam‘s Brazil, Pi is cerebral, thought-provoking science fiction. Shot guerrilla-style for a measly $60,000, it nevertheless bristles with ambitious conceptual ideas.
’lt's not science fiction in the sense of a gimmicky effects mowe,’ says Aronofsky. 'I really believe that audiences are sick of all that. We've seen everything blow-up now — from the Death Star, to planets, to giant insects, So what I wanted to do was to take science fiction back to the psychological, in the tradition of Philip K. Dick’s novels, or Rod Serling’s scripts for The Twilight Zone, or Kubrick’s 2007 — because the stuff that really works is when it gets inside a character's head. So Pi is basically a movie from the point of view of the lead character's brain. l wanted the audience to feel what it was like to be Max Cohen’s brain for 85 minutes, how it was to be looking at the world through those eyes'
Max's virtual Holy Grail is a key to the pattern that he believes is hidden ‘Jlll’lln the apparently random
“An outrageous black farce
with a wicked,
Liese Spencer, The Independent
‘, 1; pour witiiams. Maxim
Now FiLMHousa From I 03l‘mm
32 THE LIST 7--2l Jan 1999
re” Damon Smith. Attitude
12 mm gﬂ cm 332 8128
The pi-maker: Darren Aronofsky, director of Pi
numbers generated ‘oy the New York stock exchange. He sees this as 'a universe of numbers that represents the global economy. A vast network screaming With light. An organism, a natural organism.’ As his search continues, we sense that Max's customised computer, Euclid, which has aheady expanded to occupy almost his entire room, is beginning to fuse with his own tortured s0ul. Increasingly unable to cope with the internal pressures generated by his search for the mythical 216-digit number, Max starts to meltdown. ’The idea,’ explains Aronofsky, ’was that whatever was happening inside Euclid is also happening inside Max’s brain. Both of them are evolwng towards a position of ultimate knowledge, but neither of them can handle it For Max that means
achievmg an extreme state of consciousness -- a knowledge and understanding of God, ultimately. So the question the film poses is: can an
ego eXist With that ultimate knowledge?’ lts serious intellectual concerns
notwithstanding, Aronofsky was determined that Pi should not lose sight of the need to entertain. 'At its core, Pi is a thriller, a mystery. What is the number? We knew that if we had something driving the audience forward, then we could push the Visuals and the film grammar as much as we wanted. As well as adding some hugged-out new ideas that you’ve never seen before.
Edinburgh Cameo from Fri 8 Jan. Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 22 Jan. See review.
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