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The One Movie That Needs To Be Shown In Classrooms Across America
Showing films in class can be fun, inspiring and educational. Sadly, most films that are approved to show kids are rated PG or are out-dated educational films that bore more than they inspire.
I am here to discuss one film in particular that would be used to educate young children about the dangers of drug use. That film....is Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream.
Requiem For A Dream is a brutal fictional film with a hard "R" rating about a young couple, their best friend, and a lonely old woman whose lives are ripped to shreds by various drug abuses.The young couple and their friend use heroin and the old woman becomes dependent on stimulants in the form of diet pills.
Aronofsky pulls no punches and uses a wide variety of camera techniques to show the intense and terrifying effect of each character's downfall. It is by no means funny or whimsical like other drug-related films such as Trainspotting. No, this is as dark and bleak a story as it gets and never romanticizes the use of drugs for recreational use or the abuse of prescription drugs. I have never done hard drugs in my life and I feel that watching Requiem For A Dream was a big factor in my decision to refrain.
To sum up the film briefly for any educators reading this:
Released in 2000, Requiem For A Dream tells the story of Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), a young heroin junkie who begins dealing the drug in Coney Island with his girlfriend, Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his best friend, Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). Meanwhile, Harry's mother, Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn, in one of the most amazing performances of any movie ever), a lonely elderly woman, wins a chance to appear on her favorite TV show and becomes obsessed with losing weight before her appearance. After conventional exercise and dieting prove too slow, she turns to prescription diet pills and begins a slow descent into a maddening dependency on the drugs that leads to her losing the TV opportunity and requiring electroshock therapy.
Harry, Marion and Tyrone's worlds all begin to collapse as well, eventually leading to Harry and Marion splitting up, with Marion turning to prostitution to support her habit. Harry and Tyrone are arrested and sent to prison and Harry gets a severe infection from a heroin needle, leading to his arm needing amputating.
The imagery in Requiem For A Dream is not for the faint-of-heart and that is exactly the reason the film should be allowed in schools. It pulls no punches and never portrays the idea of using drugs as cool or hip.
Remember the anti-drug program D.A.R.E.? Well, research showed that the program had the opposite effect and more kids started using drugs. The "Just Say NO" approach did not work. As a kid who was subjected to D.A.R.E. on more than one occasion, I can tell you the program was boring and treated kids like idiots, as if just saying "NO" would ever be enough to reject a life of drugs. Now imagine if you showed a room full of impressionable children this:
That was the end result of 4 lives wasted. Even out of context, as this is, it's easy to get a sense of dread watching these lives get destroyed. That's the message of the film and the message that kids both need to hear, and need to experience. It is my firm belief that if schools grew the cajones to show this in classrooms across America or, even better, if parents watched it at home with their young children and discussed it with them afterwards, then kids would be scared far too sh*#less to be trying any narcotics anytime soon.
The sad truth is though, that here in America, we don't have the courage to show our children this kind of powerful material.