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Episode 7 – Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler (2008)

Author Dr. Tarja Laine, “Bodies in Pain: Emotion and the Cinema of Darren Aronofsky”
Author Dr. Jadranka Skorin-Kapov, “Darren Aronofsky’s Films and the Fragility of Hope”

This month we’re taking it to the mat as we pay tribute to Darren Aronofsky’s 2008 film The Wrestler.

This podcast is non-profit and has been broadcast for educational purposes. Excerpts from the following material has been included to enhance the listener experience:

The Wrestler (2008) dir. Darren Aronofsky, USA
Black Swan (2010) dir. Darren Aronofsky, USA

Score (2008) w & p: Clint Mansell
“The Wrestler” (2008) w & p: Bruce Springsteen
“Sweet Child o’ Mine” (1987) w & p: Guns N’ Roses
“Don’t Walk Away” (1990) w: Bill Snare and Bill Leverty, p: FireHouse


Our first special guest this month is Tarja Laine, author of “Bodies in Pain: Emotion and the Cinema of Darren Aronofsky”, first published in 2015. Tarja is the Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

Our second special guest this month is Jadranka Skorin-Kapov, author of “Darren Aronofsky’s Films and the Fragility of Hope”, first published in 2015. Jadranka is a Professor in the College of Business, Affiliate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

We’ve touched in the episode on President Donald J. Trump’s association with professional wrestling, which began with his hosting WrestleMania IV in 1988, and was capped off with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013. Here’s some interesting reading on the President’s time in wrestling, and his relationship with the McMahon family.

The history of professional wrestling is a rich and interesting one, with many melodrama-style stories of betrayal and reconnection. Perfect fodder for a filmmaker such as Darren Aronofsky. Here’s one of the best non-industry write-ups on what made the sport what it is today. ‘Breaking Kayfabe: An inside look at WWE’s unlikely business empire’ (VICE Sports)

Aronofsky is a director of details, and The Wrestler has them in abundance. He even created a fully-functioning video game for one scene. ‘The Making of Wrestle Jam: The Wrestler’s unsung hero’ (Kotaku)

IFC (formerly the Independent Film Channel) ran an interview with Aronofsky around the time of the film’s release back in 1988. His favourite wrestler was Ivan Putski (not Putsky).

The visuals of The Wrestler are grainy, realistic and entirely different from anything Aronofsky had done in the past. Part of that was due to cinematographer Maryse Alberti, who shot on 16mm to increase the grain and bring out the grit. She’s spoken about the movie several times, including to the Museum of the Moving Image.

If you want to follow us on Letterboxd, we’re always logging and rating films we’ve been watching and occasionally Luke will do some pretty in-depth reviews, too.

Luke Kane: http://www.letterboxd.com/overbreakfast/
Damien Heath: http://www.letterboxd.com/jedikaos/
Cameron Crothers: http://www.letterboxd.com/crot00192/

You can find Celluloid Junkies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Luke is also on Twitter, as is Damien.

Thanks again for checking out Celluloid Junkies. We’ll see you next month with a close-up, in depth look at Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters”.

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