mother! Explained…for Now [UPDATED]

Spoiler Alert:

I shall be digging deep and exhuming all of mother!, so don’t read any further unless you’re ready to see mother! completely naked.

Note

This post is simply a crib sheet to the film. I shall do a proper review when the DVD release date approaches, but I sense there are a lot of readers with many questions on this film, so I thought I’d address them here. Much of my analysis was gleaned from Collider, Vanity Fair, The Telegraph U.K., and Time, though I’ve also added my own 2 pence as concerns the ending. I haven’t seen this perspective mentioned elsewhere, so I thought I’d publish it here.

Established symbolism

The General Idea: The film is about the Bible, especially Genesis and bits of the New Testament. Him (Javier Bardem) plays the poet/creator, and Jennifer Lawrence plays Mother, meaning Mother Earth.

The Initial Guests: Man (Ed Harris) represents Adam and Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) represents Eve. They arrive in the Garden but partake of the forbidden fruit (by breaking the crystal) and so are thrown out of the house. Before they can be exiled, however, the Oldest Son (Domhnall Gleeson) kills his Younger Brother (Brian Gleeson) in a retelling of the tale in Genesis when Cain kills his younger brother Abel.

The Staircase: The massive, spiral staircase in the house represents the border between Heaven (the upper rooms where, later, the guests are discouraged from going) and earth (the rooms in the bottom where the people live). One reader, likka, has mentioned in the comments that it is also a symbol of the Tower of Babel, which people wanted to create in order to reach Heaven, but then God dispersed them to the four corners of the world (which would explain the Poet’s separating people of different origins). [Heartfelt thanks to Simon, likka and John in the comments who’ve developed this idea.]

The Bloody Floorboard: The earth is a living being, not an object. When she’s hurt, she bleeds.

The Sink: The sink that collapses represents the flood. Humans are mucking about and not doing as they’re told, so a flood is sent to clear them all out of the earth.

The Basement: The hidden room in the basement represents the entrance to Hell.

The Poem: After the Flood has cleared everyone away, the Creator makes a new creation which is idolized by the world. Unfortunately, the creation is so beautiful that everyone comes to the house and destroy it by their sheer number, greed and selfishness. This new creation? Simon (in the comments) realises this is the New Testament! The New Testament of the Bible caused people to arrive en masse to the Church on Earth, and then to treat the planet badly, using their love of God as an excuse.

The Baby: The Baby is Jesus, and is sacrificed by the adoring masses and then eaten in a parallel to the Communion, where Christians eat the body and drink the blood of Christ.

Peeing Jesus: [Brought up by Squilliams in the comments] The image of Jesus peeing all over the people that pass him around is meant to symbolise baptism, I’m convinced.

The Yellow Powder / Liquid: No clue. Please leave a comment explaining what it is. [In the comments, one reader (thank you, John), points out that the powder is a sort of elixir to calm her shattered nerves. I’m just wondering if there isn’t a more allegorical meaning. What would the planet earth take if it were feeling stressed?]

The Crystal: The crystal represents Love. In the final sequence, the Poet desperately asks if she’s still in love with him and she begrudgingly admits that she does. Then he asks her for one more thing before she goes and she says she only has one thing left to give. Following that, he reaches into her chest and pulls the crystal from where her heart would be. [A shout out to Simon, who explained this in the comments!]

Open questions

Here are some questions that I and other readers have which are still considered to be unanswered. Will you be the one to solve the mysteries of the womb?

The Yellow Powder: As mentioned above. Yes, it’s some sort of elixir, but what does it represent in the film? If Mother is the planet earth, what does the earth take to feel better? The more I think about it and read the generous comments below, I suspect the powder/liquid might be happiness. Why Mother Earth would need artificial/outside happiness is beyond me, but the powder does make her happier and, as brettrubicristian points out in the comments, she disposes of he powder once her baby/Jesus is born. Maybe she no longer needs the artificial happiness once she has a baby? Do any of you dear readers agree or disagree with that analysis? Do you have any alternative ideas?

Adam’s sickness: A dear friend of mine recently asked at a dinner party, “Saint Pauly, Adam is constantly sick and coughing in the film. What The Fuck is up with that?” Good question! I’d completely forgotten how important it is to the first act. Would any of you have an idea as to what the first human might be ill with? I could offer that it’s to symbolize he is mortal, thus is fatally ill with the human condition, though this feels a bit vague. Any better ideas?

Earth’s exile: Jennifer Lawrence’s character cannot leave the house. If Mother Earth is Eden / the planet, this would be logical, but then begs the question where does the Poet / God go when he walks around? And from whence come all of the other people / fans?

The Ending

[What follows is my personal interpretation] I think that Darren Aronofsky strays from his initial outline in the third act. Rather than continuing to focus on the Biblical aspect of the film, he opens it up to include aspects of his own, personal story in the movie.

Aronofsky sees himself as God, in a sense and, as he’s an atheist, this doesn’t trouble him all that much. After all, God and film directors are both creators who are looking to please the masses. Aronofsky realizes here that he’s drawn to the adoration of fans, to the point where he unwittingly lets them distract him from his personal life. Like the Poet in the film, he finds it difficult to turn away admirers, even when they are invading his privacy.

That adoration can be more important to a creator than the love of a partner. After all, what is the logical outcome when presented with a choice between the love of one or the love of many? For someone who craves love and attention, that choice is an easy one.

When the creator turns his back on the person who loves him the most, she then destroys the relationship between them. She’s the one who demolishes the house, not the others. That she leaves saddens him, but also prepares the way for a new relationship where he’ll continue to make the same mistakes. My personal take on the ending of the film, then, is that it’s autobiographical. Aronofsky recognizes his own need for attention and admiration can interfere with his personal relationships, going so far as causing some of them to end. Yet he doesn’t learn from this, because when one relationship ends, he simply moves on to the next.

That’s it then! What do you think of my analysis? Do you have any questions about the symbolism? Does my interpretation of the ending ring true? Please feel to leave a comment with any questions or observations of your own! I’d love to hear what you think!

Also, if you know somebody who has seen or might want to see the film, please consider sharing it on Facebook or other social media! The more of us there are, the merrier it will be when we decipher the entire movie!

Update

After having seen the film a second time, I have some new questions and observations!

Why is Adam a doctor? It’s mentioned several times in the film that Adam is a doctor / orthopaedist; too many times for it not to have meaning.

What was the thing in the toilet? The day after Adam is sick in the toilet, She notices there’s a beast which resembles a heart which is clogging the bowl. She prods at it with the plunger, it screeches and then emits an inky substance before disappearing. Does anyone have a clue as to what this could mean?

The lighter: Adams cigarette lighter is a major symbol in the story, as it appears several times. First, when Adam smokes in the house. Then, we see it again when he lights a cigarette knowing she doesn’t want him to smoke in the house. We then catch a glimpse of it during a later riot scene, and finally she uses it to light the oil on fire. The lighter, then, would seem to symbolise humanity’s destructive capactiy.

The symbol on the lighter: It has been misidentified as a Pisces symbol, but I think the article at Popsugar successfully identifies it as a Wendehorn. The symbol represents life’s great opposites (man / woman, fire / ice, night / day, life / death…), which leads me to conclude Adam has introduced a balance into the house. The home was only heaven when he arrived, but he brings a sense of death, disorder, chaos, sickness, mortality to a place where none existed before. Does this interpretation ring true for you?

91 thoughts on “mother! Explained…for Now [UPDATED]

    1. Hallo Simon!

      Actually, this makes a great deal of sense, thank you very much! He does ask her for one more thing and she says she only has one thing left to give and that’s after their discussion on love, when he questions her if she still loves him. I think you’ve solved it, mate! Thanks again for the insight, it’s much appreciated.

      WTF Simon (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

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      1. Bible Verses that were not in the film, but came to mind after watching it:
        Gen. 4:10 The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.
        John 6:54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
        Proverbs 5:11 – And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed
        Matthew 13:49 – So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just
        Psalm 139:22 – I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
        Revelation 9: 10 – They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of Gods people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
        Here is my complete review and analysis of this masterpiece. http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/35095/mother-3/ Regards, Goat from Ruthless Reviews.

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      1. Hallo there!

        Yes, well, it’s certainly not for everyone! I think there are s lot of people who are less than impressed with this one. Might I ask what it is you didn’t like enjoy it?

        Thanks for the visit and the comment!

        WTF (Watch The Film),

        Saint Pauly

        P.S. You call this the worst film you’ve ever seen in your entire life, but have you seen Left Behind?

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    2. My bet is that the office is which actually represents the Eden. When they touch, and ruin, the forbidden fruit (crystal) they are expelled from the Eden, but god never expels them from Earth (though she tries to do it herself). After that god seals the Eden so no one ever enters in it again.
      So:
      Eden = Poet’s Office
      Earth = House

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      1. Hallo Lucas!

        I tend to agree with you if we can conclude Eden = Poet’s Office = Heaven. As the office is elevated and off limits to humans after Adam and Eve break the crystal, it seems to me that the room represents Eden in the sense of a ‘paradise’. Thanks for your contribution!

        WTF Lucas (Watch The Film),

        Saint Pauly

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  1. I’ve only seen the film once (which is probably enough) but I think the “yellow liquid” — which is actually a yellow powder that mother pours into a glass of water from an old-looking medicine/apothecary bottle — is a treatment for her panic attacks. I’m pretty sure that every time we see her take it (in the first act) is immediately after some transgression pushes her to overcome her politeness and to express anger at the transgressor; doing so, however, unconsciously threatens her (stereotypical) ‘feminine’ identity, and this is manifest as a panic attack or, in more Freudian parlance, ‘hysteria’. When the ‘flood’ happens and mother finally rages and orders the transgressors out of her house — the house being an external manifestation of herself (hence the heart behind the walls, the blood on the floor, etc.) — she is ‘cured’ of her hysteria, sunlight enters the house and, having no further need for the yellow medicine, she flushes it down the toilet.
    I bet that in the third act she regretted that decision…
    Sorry for being so verbose, but that’s my take. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo John!

      Thank you so much for the comment. I totally agree with you regarding the fact that the yellow *powder* [thanks for pointing that out, btw 😊] is some kind of medication to treat her panic attacks. I’m just wondering where that fits if we assume she’s the personification of Mother Earth. I guess my question is, does the yellow powder represent something on an allegorical level? What does the planet earth take to calm down? Any thoughts?

      Thanks once again for your help!

      WTF John (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

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      1. My understanding of the yellow powder is that its meaning is not obvious and, therefore, possibly allegorical; Aronofsky’s choice to represent the medication as an effervescent, iridescent yellow powder rather than, say, a modern-looking tablet, suggests to me that he is alluding to the historical (Victorian) period when psychiatry was in its infancy, viewed as somewhat magical, and women’s emotional issues were labelled — by a male-dominated profession — as “hysteria” rather than being understood as a reaction to powerlessness and trauma, like the trauma that mother! suffers. Unfortunately, this kind of outdated, victim-blaming thinking continues to this day, which might in part explain why some viewers/critics don’t catch the anachronism.
        However, I think your question also speaks to a larger issue: although I absolutely agree that Jennifer Lawrence’s character is meant to represent Mother Nature, I don’t see how the yellow powder fits into that interpretation. And this might be the film’s major flaw: it seems that there are many possible interpretations, some of which cannot be reconciled with each other, which makes the film messy and unclear and ultimately, perhaps, unsatisfying. From the reviews and comments I’ve read, it certainly seems to be a factor in some of the negative reactions that viewers have had.
        Anyway, those are my thoughts: I remain vebose as ever. Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hallo again, John!

          Very interesting take on the antiquated nature of the powder, I really think you’re on to something there! Also, I completely agree with you as to the confounding nature of the film. While there are some allegories that are so obvious as to be blunt (Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel…), others are so ambiguous they stick out like a sore thorn in my side (to mix metaphors). Once again, I’m extremely grateful for your input. Together, we’ll figure this out!

          WTF John (Watch The Film),

          Saint Pauly

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        2. Could it be that the yellow powder represents the sun? I’ve been trying to think of what Mother Earth would need to “calm down,” (metaphorically speaking) and that would be the sun. The earth needs the sun to grow, hence the yellow powder calms Jennifer Larences character and helps her “grow.” When she flushes it down the toilet, it seems all hell breaks loose in the house in the third scene which is also filmed in the darkness- representing the absence of sunlight and growth…. thoughts?

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      1. Hi Saint Pauly,

        Well thank you, I feel honoured! (Canadian spelling there lol.)
        I happened onto your website for the first time last night, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your humourous (Canadian spelling again) and insightful reviews. Can’t wait to read your WTF! review of mother! — consider yourself bookmarked!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Did anyone notice that the powder medicine was the same color as the powder she used to tint her plaster and make the house “happy”? Still don’t get it but wanted to throw this out there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hallo Jill!

        Thank you ever so for joining the discussion! I didn’t realise it was the same color, but that explains so much! Am I misremembering, or did she add some powder to one of the paints to get the perfect hue she was looking for? If the powder is the same colour, that’s certainly important because she wants to make the house “happy” with the same medication she’s using to make herself happy. This reinforces the concept that the powder is like a Prozac, but what of its significance?

        Could it be, and bear with me here, that the yellow powder represents sunshine somehow? If we concede sunlight is good for the earth, perhaps the sunlight coloured drug is what the earth needs to feel good?

        I’d be interested to know what everyone thinks!

        Thanks so much for your input!

        WTF Jill (Watch The Film),

        Saint Pauly

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        1. Second time around, I noticed that the inner sparkle that the powder makes in the water is THE SAME SPARKLE in the crystal. If the crystal is indeed “love” (after it turns up in mother nature’s heart at the end), then we could assume that she is drinking some sort of elixir to generate an instant inner love.

          These drinks become crystalized inside Jennifer and actually MAKE her heart. Love is in her heart. The same heart that God tears out at the end.

          And yes, I’m sure it’s the same powder that goes into the plaster when she’s decorating the wall. With that in mind, she coating the house (earth) with love, and she drinking it down, too. The walls of the house are strengthened with this love and her well-being improves, as well. The more love that is consumed or shared around, the better things become.

          Jennifer seems to have a sup when she’s being troubled, so this makes sense, too. To quote a certain John Lennon…

          “All You Need Is Love”

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Hi Jill and St. Pauly, I don’t want to crash your party, but I thought the extra colour added to the (originally grey) paint was green, not yellow. But then again, I have at least one cataract, so I could be mistaken. Cheers, John

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Hey, thanks for posting your analysis. I just wanted to point out something I had noticed…

              a very similar yellow liquid shows up when the baby pees on the crowd as it is crowd surfing. since the baby is Jesus this seemed VERY significant to me. it fits in with the love/calming/pacifying metaphor as Jesus was sent to earth to teach humans a way around their singularity nature.

              There was also the shot of a young boy peeing himself in a sort of ‘innocence lost’ fashion (he had a very embarrassed shameful look on his face) right before things really fell apart.

              So this doesn’t put us much closer to having a direct allegory for the yellow potion but I think it is useful information still.

              Also for what it’s worth, Darren in an interview with Entertainment Weekly seemed to not even know what the yellow powder was himself. He said he didn’t really like answering that question and Jennifer “probably had a better answer than [he] did”. There may not be a clean cut answer to this one but I think we are close enough with the ‘love’ metaphor.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Hallo Squilliams!

                Thank you ever so for contributing your thoughts to the discussion. I never equated the yellow liquid with people’s yellow liquid, but I can’t believe Aronofsky would put something in at random. While I’m not sure there’s a parallel between the yellow liquids, perhaps the baby Jesus peeing scene is a reference to baptism?

                I liked what you added about Aronofsky’s own thoughts. I read an interview of one of his collaborators and the response as to the meaning of the yellow powder/liquid was equally as vague. One reader did say the yellow liquid is used to form the heart crystal, which would make it the seed of love, in a sense. Perhaps the yellow liquid represents happiness?

                Great stuff! Lots to think about!

                WTF Squilliam (Watch The Film),

                Saint Pauly

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        1. Hallo Violeta!

          Thank you very much for joining our discussion! I, also, postulated that maybe the yellow liquid symbolised the sun, as it’s yellow and makes Mother Earth happy. The more I think about it, however, the surer I am that it represents happiness. Artificial happiness? I’m not sure, but it does seem to make her happier when she takes it.

          What do you think? Thanks once again for your input!

          WTF Violeta (Watch The Film),

          Saint Pauly

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      2. Jill, Simon and John,

        After having seen mother! a second time, I can confirm that the colour of the powder she adds to the paint is indeed yellow! It’s a dark yellow, to be sure, but a yellowish tint nonetheless. I also noticed the amber hue inside the crystal, as well. There must be some sort of link among these three uses of the colour, when thinking about her super powders.

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    3. Do you remember the number on the bottle label? probably is some biblical reference… something like Matthews 18:29…I think that is an important clue…but I don’t remember…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hallo there!

        Thank you for joining the discussion! All questions are welcome and all help is appreciated. I don’t recall the label myself, though another commenter analyzes this verse in a comment below.

        He states the verse you cited reads:

        “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.”

        Certainly sounds intriguing to me! I’m fairly certain I’ll see the film again this weekend and I’ll be sure to look for this. Thanks so much for your help!

        WTF (Watch The Film),

        Saint Pauly

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  2. I watched it a second time only yesterday, and picked up on a few more things.

    When Him was tending to Adam by the toilet, we see a scar on Adam’s. Is this where Adam gave up a rib to “make” Eve? I think so.

    Also, when Eve did arrive, did you notice that Adam said “Pleased to meet you”? This is despite them being married long enough to have two sons!

    I also saw a great number of ecological references. The couple that were decorating the house were chastised by mother nature. “You don’t need to do anything, it’s fine as it is!” This, in my opinion, is mankind and it’s early attempts at changing the world in the name of improvement.

    Later, house party guests are taking things that just don’t belong to them. I saw this as the continuous rape and destruction of Earth. They were removing the very fabric of the house (our planet).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve only seen the movie once, and I know I missed some things — especially in the third act!. But I saw the scar too — I remembered it as being red, which suggested to me that it was fresh(er), and I though of the rib/Eve thing too. I also think that Him quickly put his hand over the wound, supposedly so that mother wouldn’t notice it — why would he do that? Was He not proud of His (?) creation, or worried that Mother Nature would be angry at Him? Things went by so quickly in this movie that you didn’t have time to process them, so it’s great to be able to have a discussion about them here — and a civilized, intelligent one at that!

      As for the “pleased to meet you” comment, I thought it was just the couple making a joke, because moments before they had been French- kissing.

      Another reference to religion: I believe it was after Abel was taken to hospital that mother found the photo of Him torn up — to me this suggested the rejection of God by man. Were the Plagues represented in the movie?

      And yes, lots and lots of ecological references — Aronofsky is apparently very pro-environment. I think you’re dead on about mother’s comment about the house being fine the way that it is. I don’t even remember her saying that — I can’t wait to learn what you’ll discover when you see the movie a third time! Cheers, John

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hallo John,

        Reading this comment reminded me just how upset Mother was that these uninvited guests came and stayed without her even being consulted. I like the idea of God just doing his will without thinking of the planet or the consequences of his actions.

        As for the plague, the only possible reference I’d noticed was the frog that came hopping out of the basement when she opened the wall.

        Thanks again, John!

        WTF (Watch The Film),

        Saint Pauly

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    2. Hallo Simon!

      Very astute observations! I, too, noticed the scar and (as John mentions) assumed it was from where God removed Adam’s rib to make Eve.

      I didn’t notice the “Pleased to meet you” but am curious about that! I can’t wait to get my hands on a digital version and analyse it more closely. It must be in reference to how they were put together as adults…

      I think you’re spot on with the other remarks! Like how Mother thinks the house is perfect the way she decorated it and how mankind is raping and pillaging the planet with their selfish actions. You’ve picked up on some interesting points, my friend!

      Thank you for your input!

      WTF Simon (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

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  3. Here’s a moment in the movie that struck me as important, but I have no idea what it means: when mother is at home alone after Abel is taken to hospital, she is startled by the brief reappearance of Cain. In defense, she moves back and raises a large wrench. Cain looks at her, says something like, “Oh, so you DO understand”, and turns and exists.

    WTF?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. During my viewing, I took it to mean that Cain, who represents man’s base nature, sees that mother recognises the base nature of humans and what they’re capable of, whereas the Poet is more naive and always expects the best from them.

      Or something to that effect!

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  4. This occurred to me last night. I was quite intrigued by the significance of the staircase and it’s design. After all, there was a lot of movement up and down those flights!

    The revelation came when I thought about a visual shot from the top of the house, looking down the centre – showing the twisting staircase in all its glory. Although not a spiral staircase, it did have a coil-like design.

    This Mortal Coil is another name for our planet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very clever! That interpretation holds water, imo. Definitely something to think about. There’s the scene where the Poet and her hide upstairs in order for her to give birth, as well…. Thanks so much for the contribution, Simon!

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    2. Yes, and when Cain and Abel start to argue, Him appears at the top of the stairs, scowling down at the commotion. I saw an explanation of this scene by Aronofsky himself, and he made it clear that he intended this to show that Him was God.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting that now Aronosfsky is becoming slightly more loose-lipped concerning the symbolism. Methinks he’s afraid of totally leaving his audience behind. As for the revelation, I find this one to be major! Thanks for sharing it!

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  5. Just read on imdb.com that the original title was going to be “Day 6”. I do think this would have been a better option, as the religious significance is more than hinted at.
    And as we know, it was on Day 6 that God created mankind and the animals.
    This reinforces that viewpoint that it’s an ecological film, as much as the other theories. After all, the destruction of the house (Earth) was entirely down to Man.
    Something else that occurred to me. There was a few occasions where ‘mother’
    was trying to stop people getting off with each other (at the wake and also the subsequent “book signing” where God invited everyone into His house)
    Now then, these couples were all inter-racial (one was white, one wasn’t). It’s a rather uncomfortable theory, but I wonder if Aronofsky is subliminally telling us that inter-racial relationships are wrong.
    Ultimately, mother Earth has no power to stop this happening and the world becomes an even crueler place. Am I reading too much into this? I hope someone can blow that theory out of the water because it’s not nice for a modern-day director to contemplate such a thought and put it into a film.
    Might have to go see it for a third time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Given that Aronofsky is Jewish, an artist, concerned about the environment, cast a black actor as one of the more sympathetic characters in “Requiem For A Dream”, and presented that character’s fate (i.e. imprisoned in a southern state) as a nightmare rather than just dessets, I would suspect that his politics lean to the left, and that he is not racist. There were black actors in the crowd scenes in Act III — perhaps Aranofsky just wanted to be inclusive. In any event, I thought that mother throwing the copulating couples out had to do with her anger at their lack of boundaries and invasion of her privacy. Cheers, John

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure that Aronofsky didn’t mean anything specific about the couples, as well. I’m sure he’s left leaning, as well. That said, while I know he’s not a racist, I do find it odd that only interracial couples are frowned on. I’ll look for that when I re-see the film. That having been said, I definitely walked away with the impression that Aronofsky meant to show how upset the Poet was concerning how humans abused his largesse.

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  6. Wow! Mind blown! I never realised she interrupted interracial couples from consumating. I’d really like to think this is not Aronofsky’s intention, as I admire his as a director and couldn’t continue to support him if he were a bigot. Playing the devil’s advocate, however, if he did intend this, perhaps he believes interracial couples are “unnatural”, which is why Mother Nature is the one to object. Still, I can’t believe a talented director like Aronofsky would promote that agenda in this day and age…

    I may need to see this again myself!

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    1. Hi! That’s a kinda heavy accusation to make, so to offer an alternate interpretation off the top of my head, perhaps mom separating persons of different ethnicities could be an allusion to the tower of Babel, where people were gettin’ it on until being split into different nations and spread across the earth, and so, being literally prevented from hooking up by the earth itself (as in geographical distance). Hm, also the tower was built tall to reach heaven, which could fit in with the couple reaching the upper floor (the celestial realm) and desecrating it with their sexytimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Iikka, that’s a very plausible interpretation. All this discussion just proves how good the film is, don’t you think?
        It’s SUCH a brave concept and was executed with acute aplomb. I genuinely think that the masses with eventually ‘get it’, especially when some of the more obscure stuff is explained!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hallo!

          A very plausible interpretation, indeed! And I agree, this film is so rich that it would be a shame for the general public to miss out on it just because it can be a tad obscure at times.

          WTF (Watch The Film),

          Saint Pauly

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      2. Hallo likka!

        Thank you so much for this comment! I totally agree with you, it’s a very strong accusation and I think everyone on this thread agrees that the racist interpretation is erroneous. I shall be seeing this film again on Saturday and hope to delve deeper into the question of the separations of couples.

        What’s more, your explanation seems 100% plausible, the tower of Babel is addressed in the Old Testament and so is probably related here, as well. As the Tower of Babel was meant to reach heaven, that would mean the top of the staircase represents heaven, which seems to be brought out by the story.

        Thank you for your insights!

        WTF likka (Watch The Film),

        Saint Pauly

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  7. If the bottle of sparkly stuff was labelled, “Matthew 18:29”, that is fascinating. From the new testament, that excerpt reads, “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

    Speaking of bibles, I concluded this.

    Him and mother seems to be living off the proceeds from the original book that was on the shelf in His study. After all, J-Law isn’t in paid employment and He has writers block.

    Once mother is pregnant, He is inspired to write the long-awaited follow-up / revision to the original (using a quill & ink on parchment, if you remember)

    Old book & New book. Old Testament & New Testament!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My God, Simon!!! Of course! How could I have forgotten this! You’re so right, the entire first act of the film (and parts of the 2nd and 3rd) are based on how the Poet can no longer write after his brilliant first book. She wants him to, but he has writers block. And, as has been established, the first act is the creation / Genesis story, this must be a reference to the Old Testament! And then with the imminent birth of his child, he writes the New Testament! Brilliant! Thanks so much for this one, my friend. 👏👏👏

      Like

      1. Haha, you’re welcome. Like Mark Kermode said on his Film Review programme, this is a film that stays with you. In fact, the longer you leave it, the more you want to go back.

        I work for the biggest cinema chain here in the UK and love to dissect movies and write the odd review myself. Look me up on LinkedIn, won’t you?

        PS – thanks you for introducing me to a new word, “largesse”!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Hey SP, are you in need of any freelance reviewers? I’ve written a few myself that are on LinkedIn. They’ve generally got a more serious theme, but that can be adapted to suit a new audience!

            Like

  8. We theorized that the yellow powder represented sacrifices being made to the earth. The real clue was when she dumped it all in the toilet because Jesus was coming; there was no more need for sacrifice because Jesus would be the final sacrifice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo Brettrubicristian!

      (Wow, that’s one mouthful of a name 😉 ) Thank you so much for adding to the conversation! There’s so much about your comment that makes sense, especially remarking that she stops taking the powder when Jesus is born…fascinating and I’d forgotten that. I ‘m also aware that in the Old Testament, sacrifices were needed to atone for sins, but the birth of Jesus changed that for Christians as he was the ultimate sacrifice and it was no longer necessary to sacrifice animals for forgiveness. While I agree with the timing, I’m not sure of the connection between yellow powder and sacrifice. It doesn’t seem she uses it as a sacrifice in the film. The more I think about it, I become more convinced that the powder represents happiness. Maybe she gets rid of the powder as she’s becoming a literal mother and so her baby will bring her happiness?

      Thoughts? Thank you once again for sharing!

      WTF Brett (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  9. It had no relevance first time round, as I hadn’t a clue as to what was coming. But, the very first opening scene has a severely-burned young woman giving her last gasp of air.

    The next scene is the crystal being placed back in it’s holder and ‘regenerating’ the house. By way of “bookending” the film, we see the very same scene at the end. Therefore suggesting that the whole story is cyclic, going on and on ad infinitum. J-Law’s ‘mother’ is merely one of a long succession of mothers.

    Basically, God can do WTF he likes, he has ultimate power.

    Pretty depressing (if you believe in religion) but it doesn’t detract from what is a masterful film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo Sabina!

      I really like the idea that the heart crystal is made from the yellow liquid. Is there a specific scene concerning this? I must have missed it. Your comment made me think that, if the liquid forms the heart and the heart is love, maybe the liquid is happiness? Any thoughts?

      Thanks so much for your visit.

      WTF Sabine (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  10. Hey,

    She also uses the same powder bottles to mix powder with clay for painting the wall. She had a whole box of those bottles! I wonder if that could help to understand what the “magic powder” medicine was…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also, a lot of people compare Mother! to “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic 1892 short story about postpartum depression and a woman gone mad thanks to her oppressive husband and a culture that doesn’t take her seriously. I’ve not seen the short story but like Mother, the protagonist in “The Yellow Wallpaper” has a deep connection to her house (or room, as it were), feeling as if it was alive. The yellow powder in Mother! could just be a nod to the story, representing a connection to other women suffering from mental illness, controlling husbands, and stifling gender norms. Also would explain why she went for yellowish colour for the house wall when mixing the magic powder into clay.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hallo Gina!

      So glad to have you along for the journey! There have been a few comments about the colour of the powder in this thread and, after having seen it for a second time and specifically looking for this point, I am in a position to confirm that the powder she adds to the green/grey paint is, indeed, yellowish. A very dark yellow, but a yellow nonetheless and the swath of paint she spreads on the wall beside the original greenish pass is clearly yellow-er than the original. I agree with you that this is a key point in the discussion about the yellow powder.

      Thank you again!

      WTF Gina (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  11. QUOTE from the article : “My personal take on the ending of the film, then, is that it’s autobiographical. Aronofsky recognizes his own need for attention and admiration can interfere with his personal relationships, going so far as causing some of them to end. Yet he doesn’t learn from this, because when one relationship ends, he simply moves on to the next.”

    It is much simpler then that. God is a egoistical creature that craves for attention. The movie clearly is a critique of christianity, the “myth” of creation, something that defies logic even when someone (mother in the movie) is always trying to be sensible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo Davy!
      Yes, indeed, I posit at the end of my article that the film is autobiographical at the end. What’s more, when I saw the film for a second time, I was struck but the idea that the first image of the film is the burned figure of the lover who preceded Jennifer Lawrence’s character, and then we see Lawrence rising form the bed. Then, this situation repeats itself at the end, where Lawrence’s character burns, only to be replaced y an entirely different female.

      While I don’t disagree with what you’ve written about Aronofsky’s critique of creationism, I don’t find this angle sufficiently accounts for the different female characters burning and being replaced in succession. I still think there’s something more happening here.

      Thank you for your thoughts!

      WTF Davy (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  12. Davy, I like your thinking. However, if the ending is autobiographical and “when one relationship ends, he simply moves on to the next”, I feel for poor Jennifer!
    Maybe I should write her a nice letter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo again Simon!

      Davy is in fact quoting the theory I present at the end of my article. As I explained in my response to his comment, seeing the film a second time did nothing to dissuade me from my point of view. On the contrary, it only served to reinforce it! As for Ms Lawrence, I’ve no doubt that she understood the symbolism but, like most lovers, is sure she’s the one that will change him. Time will tell!

      In the meantime, a nice letter couldn’t go amiss!

      WTF Simon (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  13. I think the ending explains the fallacy of God and the movie as a whole is a critique on the so called ‘perfect world created by God’
    It tells how God loves himself and his groupies more than he loves his creation (poem and mother, or content in the world and the world itself).

    The poem also represents the word of God and the Bible itself, the ten comandments, the Koran, the Thorah, or whatever religious ‘word of God’ – as it merely brings mass hysteria, blind following and a loss of comon decency, it explains how the word of God lies at the base of human terror and destruction.

    The entire movie could also be understood as a metaphore for domestic abuse and violence. Combining this with the Biblical theme, it is again a critique on religion as a blind love, given by one side by a beaten relationship partner, a tortured person : it is explaining the Stockholm syndrome in such relationships and you could conclude that religious adoration or sektarian adoration of belief systems and god figures, leading to violence and death, is actually just a form of collective shared Stockholm Syndrom.

    The yellow powder stands for the self-healing powers of Mother Earth, till Jesus is born (or in the domestic violence allegory : from the moment the beaten partner beliefs in one last imagined common relationship project). Once jesus is being born or lawrence believes in this common relationship project, she/earth gives herself completely in the hands of her human chils/life partner.. it is in the hands of her partner/child(ren) / human species now, to heal/protect mother of child/mother earth.
    If the yellow powder indeed symbolizes self-healing, then flushing it away when jesus gets born, or the human race rts responsibilized by a moral code, means directly that it is now up to the human species to adapt and preserve this garden of eden, this planet. If humans don’t, which they probably won’t (hence the eternal new trials of Javier/God and circular story line) then earth will spit out life, die. Thus the yellow powder stands for the self healing power of nature, although not unlimited in strength on the one hand, on the other hand throwing it away means putting the self healing/caretaking responsibility in the hands of the human species (and they fail).

    Thus for me, mother! is a movie which uses the bible allegory in combination with domestic violence allegory, to critique the selfish and imperfect side of the human species, in the image of its selfish and imperfect creator.

    Love, the chrystal, is the driving force, of everything, indestructible within the powers of nature (mother herself), but destroyed and shattered by those who take advantage of this love (God, domeatic violent partner, profiteets, ..) Even god is indirectly responsible for having love slippes away through his fingers (by the parents), but somehow the universe makes love a perpetual thing, an eternal existence. Love cannot be hold behind bars, it should be free. Love (also the hearth seen through the wall, and blackening by the end of the movie) is challenged the more, the more it is entrapped and encaged. Also remember the scene with different women behind bars “help us”, which stands for other women under domestic violence, thus also love being encaged and unfree. Or remember how He doesnt want anybody to touch love, as he cherishes it confined, as much as he leaves her confined.

    A final note. It is clear that God doesn’t give love back, He just takes it and thrives on it.
    … Love is within the human nature, and it has strong powers, but it has only one true state of belonging : love in a free setting, far away from adoration (or far away from the stockholm syndrome : love for the violent partner or the violent God or Religion that hurts time and again ones’ faith). Love is hurting in the movie, the more it gets encaged and has to live by the rules of the violent persona (domestic abusive partner or God).
    The other humans and their chaos represent his/His violence.

    This movie is a critique on the human species, as well as on Religion. It states that religious beliefs are nothing more than a form of collectively shared Stockholm Syndrome.
    Blind indestructible love, only receiving in return selfish, encaging and unloving violence and even destruction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo Roeland!

      Thank you for such a well thought out comment!

      I agree on so many of your talking points! Yes, the film is a critique of religion. Yes, there is a definite subplot of domestic abuse to be found here (which I touched on when I was talking about Aronosfsky’s treatment of women/partners). This could also be extrapolated further to include sexism inherent in most modern organised religion. Yes, God can only receive love, yet cannot give it. And yes, the film is most definitely a critique of humanity in general!

      Wow, such a complete summary, thank you again for sharing it with us here!

      WTF Roeland (Watch The Film),

      Saint Paluly

      Like

  14. About the ending, I see it as an apocalypse kind of thing. Nature can’t stand what society has been doing to her, so, eventually, the world collapses.

    The end of the world doesn’t really affect God, for it is merely his creation and he is much “bigger” than that. Therefore, he can just go on and create a whole new world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo Juby!

      What a wonderful comment! Thank you so much. The end certainly does feel like an apocalypse, especially since She brings it on herself by setting the house on fire. And yes, he can certainly create a new world, though there is the interesting idea here that he does not create the world so much as the force he creates (another ‘she’) creates the world. Definitely something to think about!

      Thanks for your visit!

      WTF Juby (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

    1. Hallo Júlio!

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve read about this concept in other articles and I’m having a hard time committing to it 100%. Maybe I should read the story myself!

      Thanks again, my friend.

      WTF Júlio (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  15. I haven’t figured out the yellow powder yet. But perhaps if we put the clues all together it will become clear to someone:

    1. Aronofsky said in an interview, “Let’s just say it’s it’s harkening back to Victorian novels and this idea of a deeper connection for her and the house.”

    2. mother has bouts of discordance or dissonance, where sound and vision are distorted. These bouts show us the house or mother’s vision vibrating, like an earthquake. She sees visions of the un-beautified house. Is she seeing it before she beautified it, or in the state to which it will return?

    3. Possibly the latter, considering that the law of entropy says that things will fall apart. She is reminded during these moments that she must constantly work on the house (the earth) or it will revert to its post-destruction state, before she began to improve it.

    4. To stop these bouts, she takes the yellow powder – and here is where the question comes in. What is it? Happiness is one possible answer, as previously stated on this site. Love? Sunlight? Energy? If it is something she no longer needs once she is pregnant, that means whatever it is, it can be replaced by birthing the son of God onto the earth. And being pregnant with Jesus, she no longer sees visions of her world in its ugly state.

    5. As Aronofsky alluded to, the yellow powder connects her to the house, which is why she adds it to the clay to spackle the walls with. Interesting that she is not painting it on, but literally adding it to plaster (clay/earth) and adding it to the existing wall, repairing flaws while beautifying. We see her smear a big swath of it on, and then stand there, considering the color, and what it has done to improve the house. It is at that moment that she is feeling that connection to the house. So what does this mean?

    6. Is she going to do the whole house in yellow plaster? Who knows, but just in that one room – which appears to be the LIVING room, emphasis being important – she has a long way to go. Doing one smear at a time, it seems her work will never be done.

    7. Eve interrupts her from her beautification project. But she is not just Eve, she is woman. And what is she obsessing over? Lemonade. A watered down, pale version of the yellow drink mother has been imbibing?

    8. So if the yellow powder is the sunlight/energy/love that improves the world, as well as mother Earth/mother nature herself, which are in a constant state of entropy, then does the arrival of human woman on earth mean that mother becomes distracted by a much less vibrant, less satisfying elixir? She stops her plastering to indulge in a sip of this weak substitute.

    9. During the third act of the film, mother is hit with one after the other of these jarring, time-jumping, disturbing bouts, during which the progression of the corruption of mankind takes place. But she has no more yellow powder, having poured it down the toilet, putting all of her faith in her unborn child. So when her child is sacrificed, she has nothing with which to fight the destruction, and ultimately chooses to clean the slate for a new beginning by burning it all down. She has lost all hope.

    10. Aha! Does it fit this entire thought process, then, to say that the yellow powderbis HOPE?!?! Hope is what mother fills herself / the earth with, to repair it and beautify it. Mankind offers her hope, but it pales in comparison, and she returns to the stronger, self-administered hope – hope that the world itself is enough. Until God gives her his son to bring forth. She then puts all of her hope in him, and dispenses with any other form. Which is a mistake, because once mankind distorts the miracle that has occurred, bending it to their own interpretation, literally and figuratively killing their redeemer and what he stands for, mother’s hope has been torn apart and destroyed. But is all hope really gone? Is there a tiny amount still inside her? In her last moments, she willingly surrenders all that is left of herself – her pure (crystal clear – but some have said, with a hint of yellow) heart, to God, so that he can recreate her and let her try again.

    Whew. I’m exhausted!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hallo Rich!

      Wow! Thank you so much for your comment! I do appreciate your spending so much time adding to this article’s lore.

      I won’t be as thorough as you were, but there are a couple points I’d like to mention.

      1) I didn’t know that Aronofsky stated, “Let’s just say it’s it’s harkening back to Victorian novels and this idea of a deeper connection for her and the house,” in an interview. That being the case, I’m afraid I’ve no choce but to accept there must be some link to the short story, The Yellow Paper. In the past, I found this theory a tad far-fetched but if Aronofsky himself mentions it, then I must accept it, n’est-ce pas?

      2)I loved the detailed and logical way you went through your theory. In fact, it was so complete I don’t see how your conclusion can be ignored. Thus, I’m certianly wiling to admit the possibility that the yellow powder is hope. It makes perfect sense to me and, again, I appreciate your time and effort in laying this out for us!

      WTF Rich (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  16. I have a feeling that the yellow powder is laudanum. Aronofsky said to EW that it is related to the Victorian era.

    Laudanum was used to “calm down the spirits” when in an asthma crisis, for example. Many women used when in distress.

    I feel that it’s not necessarily an allegory to the Bible, but to the gaslighting Mother suffered. She never had the love or attention from Him. She was constantly dismissed.

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    1. Hallo Leticia!

      I’m so grateful for your comment! I do believe you’re the first to give the pesky yellow product an actual name, so now I shall do some research into it to see what secrets it can reveal.

      As for the chemical not necessarily being meaningful beyond the literal meaning… I do agree it’s not necessarily biblical in nature, but I do suspect that, much like the heart crystal, it is not totally to be taken on face value, either.

      Thank you again so much for your input!

      WTF Laticia (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  17. Do you think there is any significance to the fact that her medicine cabinet has no mirror? All medicine cabinets have mirrors.
    I’m also intrigued that everyone scoffs when she says it’s her house. This happens repeatedly.

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