when no-one else would touch him. Given that each of his films explores the destructive nature of obsession, it’s tempting to read them as a reflection of his own tenacity, but Aronofsky isn’t having any of it. He used to be obsessed with film, he says, but he’s moved past that now.
‘I think that working with Mickey Rourke changed my take on filmmaking because there was no way to really control him. It was more about letting him loose and being in the moment with him. I think filmmaking is now just about setting up a space where you get as many bright, focused people together and be open to see what happens.’ That’s certainly how he approached Black Swan. Shot on grainy 16mm film in the same verité style as The Wrestler, its raw, imperfect aesthetic may not make much sense on paper given the film’s psychological horror trappings and the upscale milieu of the New York Ballet. It does, however, work on screen, and Aronofsky reckons he learned an important lesson about appreciating such incongruities after collaborating with Bruce Springsteen on the award-winning song for The Wrestler. ‘There was this one line that goes “Have you ever seen a one-legged dog walking down the street,”’ smiles Aronofsky, remembering the track. ‘We were mixing the film – Bruce wasn’t there – and I kept saying: “I can picture a three-legged dog and I can picture a two-legged dog, but what the hell is a one-legged dog?” After it won the Golden Globe, I had a couple of drinks in me, so I said: “So, Bruce, what the hell is a one- legged dog walking down the street?” And he said: “Sometimes the poetry is in the mistakes.”’ He laughs, adding in quickly: ‘Not that he makes mistakes – he’s Bruce Springsteen. But I think what he was saying was that the things that don’t quite make sense are often where the mystery rises up. I just thought that was an interesting idea.’
The Black Swan, general release, Fri 21 Jan.
6–20 Jan 2011 THE LIST 11