The following statement by Darren Aronofsky was released a week before the premiere: "It is a mad time to be alive. As the world population nears 8 billion we face issues too serious to fathom: ecosystems collapse as we witness extinction at an unprecedented rate; migrant crises disrupt governments; a seemingly schizophrenic US helps broker a landmark climate treaty and months later withdraws; ancient tribal disputes and beliefs continue to drive war and division; the largest iceberg ever recorded breaks off an Antarctic ice shelf and drifts out to sea. At the same time we face issues too ridiculous to comprehend: in South America, tourists twice kill rare baby dolphins that washed ashore, suffocating them in a frenzy of selfies; politics resembles sporting events; people still starve to death while others can order any meat they desire. As a species our footprint is perilously unsustainable yet we live in a state of denial about the outlook for our planet and our place on it. From this primordial soup of angst and helplessness, I woke up one morning and this movie poured out of me like a fever dream. All of my previous films gestated with me for many years but I wrote the first draft of Mother! (2017) in 5 days. Within a year we were rolling cameras. And now two years later, it is an honor to return to the Lido for the world premiere. I imagine people may ask why the film has such a dark vision. Hubert Selby Jr., the author of Requiem for a Dream (2000), taught me that through staring into the darkest parts of ourselves is where we find the light. "Mother!" begins as a chamber story about a marriage. At the center is a woman who is asked to give and give and give until she can give nothing more. Eventually, the chamber story can't contain the pressure boiling inside. It becomes something else which is hard to explain or describe. I can't fully pinpoint where this film all came from. Some came from the headlines we face every second of every day, some came from the endless buzzing of notifications on our smartphones, some came from living through the blackout of Hurricane Sandy in downtown Manhattan, some came from my heart, some from my gut. Collectively it's a recipe I won't ever be able to reproduce, but I do know this serving is best drunk as a single dose in a shot glass. Knock it back. Salute!" [Aug. 2017]
Michelle Pfeiffer admitted not understanding the script the first time she read it, describing it as "esoteric." However, the actress committed to the project after becoming excited by the character she would be playing.
After filming the scene in which Jennifer Lawrence hyperventilated (and production was put on hold while she was placed on oxygen), members of the crew came up with the idea to make Lawrence her very own "happy place"--a tent complete with gumballs and clips of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" that play on a constant loop.
Edinburgh educated sculptor Jessica Harrison is the artist whose works are referenced in the film's poster image released on Mothers Day 2017. Aronofsky cited Harrison as an inspiration, especially her 'broken' figurines works.
Prior to the start of principal photography the cast rehearsed for three months in a warehouse during which time Aronofsky was able to "get a sense of movement and camera movement, and learn from that".
Darren Aronofsky submitted a written statement about the film when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival, in which he revealed that he wrote the first draft of the script in 5 days ("a fever dream," he called it) and that the idea was inspired by current events, "the endless buzzing of notifications on our smartphones," and his experiences going through Hurricane Sandy in downtown Manhattan. "It is a mad time to be alive," he wrote. He also wrote that the film should be "drunk as a single dose in a shot glass. Knock it back."
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When the husband is holding the doctor over the toilet, mother notices him covering a wound on the doctor's chest. Going with the biblical theme of the movie this is probably the rib God took from Adam. The next day the doctors wife (Eve) arrives at the house.
In keeping with the biblical allegory of the film, the guests begin mocking Mother Nature by bouncing on the sink that she has told them not to sit on. This leads to the house flooding and all of the guests being gone, a reference to the great flood in the Bible wiping out most of humanity.
During an interview with Indiewire, Aronofsky explained the concept of the movie: "Lawrence is Gaia, or Mother Earth, while her house represents the world -- a living, breathing organism being destroyed by its inhabitants. Her husband, known as 'Him' in the film, is God. Out of boredom, he creates Adam and Eve (the couple), who proceed to destroy both Gaia's creation and His study (the Garden of Eden), which holds God's perfect crystal (the apple). Their quarrelling sons are Cain and Abel. They also bring worshipers to praise God, who keep sitting on mother's unsupported sink, and eventually, cause the pipes to burst into a 'Great Flood'. God impregnates mother, who gives birth to the Messiah -- a chaotic sequence followed by a disquieting communion and Revelations."
The graphic death of the newborn baby in the ending led to difficulties in finding a distributor for the film. 20th Century Fox turned away the script (after having worked with Aronofsky for quite a few films) along with several other studios, because of this scene. Paramount pictures was only convinced to pick up the film after seeing who would be cast as the characters.
In a Q&A after the film at the Landmark in Los Angeles on September 16, 2017, Aronofsky confirmed that the title "mother!" refers to Mother Nature, whom Lawrence portrays, and that the main characters are based on biblical characters. Bardem is billed as "Him," the only credit with a capital letter; he's God. Harris is Adam, Pfeiffer is Eve, and their sons are Cain and Abel.
The films beginning is a reflection of the end. Jennifer Lawrence's character wakes up after the opening shot of the burning corpse, at the end of the film Lawrence's character is burned and the next shot shows another woman waking up
The film is a telling of mother nature, hence the title mother! And also explains the lack of names for characters other than descriptive epithets. The house represents Earth, with Jennifer Lawrence representing Mother nature. Javier Bardem's character apprently represents God according to Arronofsky. Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris are adam and eve. With the Gleeson brothers being Cain and Abel. The metaphors continue on throughout the film.
An unconventional role for Kristen Wiig, this film along with All Good Things (2010) are her only serious and dark film roles in contrast to her filmography which mostly contains comedy films and other lighthearted roles. This film is also her first horror film and it features her first onscreen death scene, where her character is killed by an explosion.