When it comes to Darren Aronofsky's perplexing new thriller, Mother!, there are a lot of layers to peel back. And under those layers are even more layers. Having seen the film and beheld the brain-melting twist, it seems that the themes and hidden references only get more confusing and carry more weight the more you think of them.
Even after the credits roll and that haunting final song floats into your ears, there are still a few perplexing questions that seem to have been left unanswered. And perhaps the most glaring among them is the significance of the lighter than begins and ends the madness.
Even before the film's theatrical release, the lighter was clearly a crucial part of the very fabric of Mother! It appears in both of the chilling posters that were released in the months leading up to the release. In the painting featuring Jennifer Lawrence, it's tucked away in a dark corner of the greenery. Meanwhile, in Javier Bardem's poster — you know, the one where he's engulfed in flames — it tumbles out of a broken chair.
What's more perplexing, of course, is the symbol on the front. In my in-depth speculative theory about the plot, I discovered that the symbol is a rune known as a Wendehorn. It basically symbolizes the great opposites of the universe: life and death, order and chaos, good and bad, fire and ice, mind and body, light and dark . . . the list goes on and on.
So how does the object tie into the film? From the very beginning, Mother recognizes the lighter as a tool of destruction. Perhaps it's something inherent to mankind. After all, Ed Harris's character has a smoking habit that has, at this point in his life, become a part of him. The lighter is a tool that fuels this habit. Alternatively, the light could simply stand for fire. Fire can create and destroy.
Mother asks the man not to smoke in the house. He does anyway. Her response is to take away the tool of destruction, to throw it some place where the man cannot find it.
At one crucial moment near the end, Mother spots the lighter amid all the chaos in her house. Presumably, she still sees it as a tool of destruction. But man has figured out a way to desecrate her home, her sacred space, without this tool in hand. Here, in this moment, the fire is no longer her enemy . . . it's her salvation. The fire, once a source of destruction, becomes a means of cleansing her space of the human infestation. She lights up the house, and the fire cleanses.
So maybe the lighter is the crux of all the chaos. The exact meeting point of everything. It comes right at the beginning with the very first house guest, and it facilitates the devastating end. Ashes to ashes. As we know, the end of the film loops right around to the beginning. It's like the lighter is the spark that really enacts this change.