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Concept Design for Darren Aronofsky's film "Mother!"


Visualize a panic attack and show the connection between the house and the lead actress's heart. As her heart is getting sick the house is getting sick too.


Think of an abstraction of a pink biological heart that is slowly being invaded by blackness. Some internal biological space.  Picture a heart inside of a womb.  Not a real human space but biological matter.  I think its more that we are inside the heart / womb, not looking at it. The heart is fighting between black and red and the space around it has some connection to the house. It should be scary.
The main thing Darren talked about was the idea that this should feel like something is tightening in her chest, causing her to have shortness of breath. Not literally of course (that would be too easy), but in a metaphorical way.  

    •    Key Words:
    ◦    Knotting
    ◦    Clotting
    ◦    Twisting
    ◦    Clumping
    ◦    Pulling in
    •    General Notes:
    ▪    These moments were described to Jennifer as a growing knot inside of her; something twisting inside of her.
    ▪    The knot/pain/mass should be in the center of the frame as other things (tendrils, particles, etc.) pull in towards it and calcifies/hardens.  
    ▪    Mass could have a translucency like an embryo.
    ▪    Need to be centralized so it feels like we're looking in on an event.
    ▪    Should feel biological like a heart or a womb -  but still vague.
    ▪    Tendrils looking like cobwebs in a house is a cool idea to work on.
    ▪    Tendrils should spin/twist, and pull the outside in.
    ▪    We should see it un-tighten (and relax from all of this tension) after the baby is conceived and then tighten back up very quickly as the darkness explodes later on.







sc. 5 -  we hear and see a slightly slow “heart” perhaps not the traditional heart beat but something alien, we should research heart beats of horses and elephants and blue whales and other large mammals. 

As she gets idea for color, the heart gets healthier we return to her…
Basically she is trying to decide on a paint color for a wall.  She closes her eyes, puts her hand on the wall and “listens” to the house. When she opens her eyes, she knows what color to paint it. It’s a little odd.  I don’t think you need to worry about the color itself.

sc. 20 - blackness slowly encroaching on her heart.
also after she takes tincture we could possibly return to the darkness space to see the tension relieved.
this relief can happen after she goes back to bed before the morning breakfast.

The darker womb.  It’s always the same space, but as the story goes along, darkness creeps in.  

That’s what I was trying to show in a very basic way in the two images.
It’s not a named disease - like cancer or anything.  

She just has semi-panic attacks and takes a little medicine to help her stabilize.  

That said, cancer imagery isn’t a bad idea for some of the darkness.  We talked a little about lung caner.

sc. 40 the blackness moves more into the heart

sc. 43 - possible relief of pain, possibly no image, just audio.  but also maybe we see blackness recede from heart.

sc. 55 - the heart is dying

sc. 77 - blackness grows.

sc. 82-83 - as they start to have sex, we fade to white and the darkening heart explodes into a fresh pink small energy.  a baby “heart” starting to beat.

after sc. 87 - the pink heart is bigger, deeper more impressive now leading us from conception into 5 months pregnant.

after sc. 96 - 9 months later.  nothing can stop the baby.  the beating is now louder and bigger and pushing to the edge of the “womb.”
I think the idea was that the pink heart was the baby.   But like I said, I don’t think we’re talking about a literal heart.  At the same time, we want to represent the baby in this world some how.  Perhaps it is it’s own object or perhaps it is represented by a fresher, younger, pinker texture to the membrane walls (or whatever it ends up being).

sc. 117  the healthy baby fighting a new blackness which is invading and the “heart” battling it.

sc. 132 - birth - the beating heart leaves and there is now and empty “womb” but no blackness now…

sc. 137 - the womb is filling with a black still heart.

sc. c137 - the black heart becomes completely HARD and STILL and PETRIFIED and PERMANENT.


CONCEPT DESIGN PHASE 02 "The womb/heart World":




After reading the script (especially the part when the crowds flood the house) here's my suggestion:

 - The heart/house is the magnet that attracts the energy and reacts accordingly. I have chosen to use the substance of iron oxide dust to symbolize the energy attacking or retracting from the heart/magnet.


 - Video #1 :
Under the water, this substance when shaken turns into floating particles, which in the absence of the magnet they are spread out and can portray when the darkness clears out/the heart is red. Also we can control the weight of it and make it move heavily, stiff when the heart turns black.
 - In the presence of the magnet and the way this substance reacts, we can portray the darkness creeping in to attack the heart/house.
- By using two different magnets simultaneously, we could also portray the fight between the baby and the darkness (baby- stronger magnet).

 Video #2 : A demonstration of how the iron oxide particles interact with the magnet outside the underwater environment.
 - We can also use this spike matter effect to fill in the cracks of the house as it spreads out.



Specific Notes:
    ◦    The concept of the iron oxide is really cool.
    ◦    The viscous, more free form movement is really great though.
    ◦    On the Darkness_CreepsIn video, the particles free floating is nice. The particulate idea is working, especially as it combines with iron oxide.
    ◦    Trying different timings on all of these would be great, maybe shoot some of them in slo motion.

In addition to all of this we looked at two attached images again and he responded well.  He felt like the central object he’s talking about might have some of this feeling - organic, healthy, somewhat translucent.

Hope this all helps.  In my opinion, this continues to be a very tricky design problem and we need to just keep playing around, coming up with new ideas, trying different things. That said, Darren was really excited about what you’re doing and is eager to see more.   He said he likes the “way your brain works”. 

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