The Artist's Intention

September 28, 2017

Will and I both saw the film Mother! this past week, and we were both deeply affected by it. I loved it. My mouth was open for the last third as a combination of giddy joy, horror, and disbelief left me wondering how any work of art could make me feel that intensely. I go to movies and read books to feel moved and intellectually stimulated. This one grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me while zapping my brain with high voltage wires.

 

Without dealing out any spoilers, I'll tell you that Mother! has metaphors on metaphors on metaphors. It works on a 100 different levels. Will and I spent a lengthy conversation unpacking these metaphors until we got to which metaphor Aronofsky claimed he actually intended in making the film. It was one I did not immediately pick up on, and it got me thinking about how important the artist's intention actually is when reacting to and digesting his or her work. Isn't it all about connection anyway? If we connect with the film, laugh at it, cry at it, think deeply about it, or yell at it, isn't it engaging us effectively? We don't need to know what Aronofsky intended when he made Mother!. It isn't wrong if we find a way to connect with it, to make it personal, and the way we connect with it falls outside of the artist's intention. There's a reason artists often don't tell you what their work means; They would narrow the possibility of you connecting with the work if they did.

 

Part of the reason the film works on so many levels is because it's ambiguous. Ambiguity should be tolerated as a key to connecting with any work of art. 


As Will argued, the artist's intention should not be forgotten. It's still important and can only add to the richness of the film experience. I agree with that, but I will let Will have his word on the matter... next week. 

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