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Paul L. Boley Law Library

So You Decided Not to See mother!: Library Recommendations on Environmental Ethics and Beyond

October 18, 2017

  • Movie poster for the motion picture mother!
    Movie poster for the motion picture mother!

Jim Kite, Interim Research and Reference Librarian

The controversial movie mother!, directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, is on its way out of the theaters after a brief but much talked about release on the big screen. While I enjoyed (enjoyed? Yeah, let’s go with enjoyed.) mother!, it is certainly not for everyone. Tangled within the movie’s jarring visuals is a consideration of big issues like environmental ethics that might intrigue many people disinclined to endure the movie. If you missed (or more likely chose to avoid) it, do not despair. The library is here to help.

Just like the law is more than just statutes and cases, Boley Law Library is more than just a physical collection of books on the law. Primo, our library catalog, can connect you with resources legal and non-legal outside our four walls, and the reference staff is always happy to help you locate that difficult-to-find source.

The following list consists of resources in Primo that will help you experience and engage with many of the same ideas presented in mother! without submitting yourself to two hours of pretension, blasphemy, and trauma (I promise, I enjoyed it!). Plot and thematic spoilers ahead. 

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History written by Elizabeth Kolbert

Kolbert addresses the present environmental crisis by recontextualizing it alongside the five preceding mass extinction events that have been discovered in the fossil record. The defining trait of the sixth extinction is that it is caused by humans. The culpability of humanity for its destructive impact is one of the central themes in mother!. 

The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis written by Lynn White

Originally published fifty years ago in the journal Science, White’s seminal essay explores the relationship between the Christian tradition and humankind’s treatment of the natural world. This essay does a better job balancing the themes of religion and the environment than Aronofsky’s tortured and tangled allegory.

Noah as Antihero Edited by Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch and Jon Morgan

Of course, Aronofsky made another bonkers biblical epic that features heavy-handed environmental allegory. This one is also a unique vision, but instead of mother!’s broken sinks and Katniss Everdeen, Noah has weird stone monsters and Hermione Granger. Take your pick. Noah as Antihero is a collection of essays by biblical scholars analyzing Aronofsky’s retelling of the deluge story.  

The Birthday Party written by Harold Pinter

The plot of a sinister and incomprehensible home invasion was employed expertly by Harold Pinter in his 1957 play. The Birthday Party is part of a style of theater from that time often referred to as ‘comedy of menace,’ a label that could easily apply to mother!. The stellar cast of the 1968 screen adaptation is lead by the inimitable Robert Shaw, and the movie is directed by William Friedkin who would go on to direct The Exorcist another movie with strong thematic links to mother!

Rehab Addict (DIY Network. Sorry, not everything is in Primo!) hosted by Nicole Curtis

All that Jennifer Lawrence’s mother character wants to do is to restore Javier Bardem’s home to its former glory, but these pesky house guests keep getting in the way. If you would like to see beautiful homes fixed up, why not watch Rehab Addict on the DIY network. The show just started its 8th season and has the satisfying renovation action without the unwelcome visitors.

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