From: Silver Screen

Scenes that Stick: What ‘Mother!’ says about the horrors of humankind

Scenes that Stick: What ‘Mother!’ says about the horrors of humankind
Graphic by Carly Johnson

“Mother!” gives a horrifying take on humanity and the many ways in which people have irreversibly damaged our planet. The movie slowly builds up to a final scene that reminds the audience just how violent society has become in recent decades, both to the Earth and towards each other, in a way that is not only symbolic but alarming and disturbing. 

“Mother!” is a psychological horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky that follows a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence), referred to as “Mother,” and her husband (Javier Bardem), who is only referred to as “Him” throughout their marriage. The movie solely takes place in the couple's beautiful Victorian home that has been entirely renovated by Mother. 

Although it is never stated in the movie itself, this film is meant to be a metaphor for the way humans have treated the Earth. “Him” represents God, “Mother” is mother nature and the house is the Earth. The film includes many references to both the Old and New Testament, and attempts to display human history and its destruction from the viewpoint of mother nature herself. 

The first half of the film centers around a couple, “Man” (Ed Harris) and “Woman” (Michelle Pfeiffer), who are invited to stay in the house by Him, a decision that Mother does not approve of. Their presence in the house makes Mother both uncomfortable and physically in pain; when destruction occurs within the home, Mother feels it in her heart. These two characters are meant to represent Adam and Eve, showing the first time harm is bestowed upon the Earth by humans. As the movie continues, the couple’s two sons (Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson) show up at the house arguing over their dad’s will. This is where the violence truly begins, as the brothers begin to fight and one ends up accidentally murdering his sibling, something that deeply traumatizes Mother. This act of violence is a clear reflection of the selfishness and greed that humans have obtained since the beginning of time, traits that have often led to the destruction of our Earth.

The most impactful and intense scene of the movie begins soon after this. Due to Him’s newest piece of work being published, never stated in the film but meant to represent the Bible, fans begin to show up at the house wanting to meet Him. The chaos starts when more and more people burst into the house unannounced and begin to steal and destroy things. Mother panics and begs them to leave, but nobody listens, as the number of fans grows from dozens to hundreds. 

The house continues to fall into complete destruction and chaos as riots break out, people are locked into cages and others are getting lined up and murdered. Fires and explosions start and the house's floor becomes covered with dead bodies. By the end of these gruesome acts, Mother and Him are one of the few survivors, and Mother has been deeply injured and traumatized by the actions of these supposed “fans.” This is where the scene comes to a close. 

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This scene is by far the most gripping point of the movie, as we see what begins as a peaceful night form into a monstrous and disturbing event full of complete chaos. The house that Mother built for her family has been completely destroyed, and so has she. Him let his worshippers get in the way of protecting something that could never be rebuilt, depicting how God has allowed humans to destroy the climate for their own gain, never taking into account the harm and consequences of doing so. 

“Mother!” is an extremely interesting take on both religion and humankind; seeing an allegory for mother nature and God in this relationship is a very compelling view on the formation of our world. Even if you are not religious, this film is extremely impactful at exploring the ways we have and continue to treat our planet. This specific scene displays that in a way that is both terrifying and saddening. Watching our earth become humanized into the character of Mother makes us feel guilty and reflect on the decisions of people, whether we’ve had control on it or not. Aronosfky does a successful job at displaying just how horrifying mankind has been to both each other and to the environment, throughout history and today.

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