This week, the full trailer for Mother! was released, leaving us more intrigued by Darren Aronofsky's mysterious new film than ever. While the trailer does hint at the dangers to come, and we do have plenty of extra details, it's safe to say we have more questions than answers at this point. I decided to take matters into my own hands. With just the posters and the trailer at my disposal, I embarked on a quest that no one really asked for to discern what exactly the movie is about. Surprisingly, I actually unearthed some fascinating stuff. Take my hand and descend into this confusing labyrinth, won't ye?
Hints From the Title
Let's start with the most basic analysis. Mother! must have some sort of matriarchal structure to it. We just have to figure out who the "mother" is. Is Jennifer Lawrence an aspiring mother who wants to bring new life into the world? If this is the case, then perhaps all the events revolve around her attempts to get pregnant. Given the slight resemblance between Lawrence and Michelle Pfeiffer, it's not too far a jump to wonder if Pfeiffer plays Lawrence's mother. This could be a good twist if Lawrence was abandoned as a child.
This brings us to an exciting and recent revelation: Mother! has just been listed on the site for TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival. The description of the movie begins: "A young, pregnant woman (Jennifer Lawrence) busies herself in a vast, unfamiliar house, trying to renovate it into submission." Whether or not it seems to have been a slip-up, we know now that Lawrence is pregnant in the film. She is the mother! Of course, there's still the possibility that there's more than one mother, so the whole Pfeiffer thing might still hold up.
A final theory will bring us deeper into the film: maybe another "mother" in the film is some kind of entity. Could this mysterious group of people be trying to summon some sort of goddess or creature? This would explain some of the more disturbing things that appear in the posters and the trailer.
Hints From the Posters
Before we were able to see any footage of Mother!, two arresting and unsettling posters were released. The first shows Jennifer Lawrence with a gaping wound in her own chest. In her hands, she holds her own heart. Her expression is almost completely blank, but there's almost a sort of wonder or tranquility laced into it. There are other strange things to note. On the left side, one flower seems to house an octagonal door knob. Once you watch the trailer, you'll notice this shape appears in many different ways (windows, wallpapers, etc.) throughout the house.
On the right side, things get even weirder. Near Lawrence's shoulder is some sort of roughly cut crystal. Further down, you'll notice a frog, which could mean any number of things. If you want to go Biblical, the frog would have to be associated with the plagues. A frog could also signify some sort of transformation, since the amphibians have their own metamorphosis after being born as tadpoles. Also, if you zoom in on Lawrence's eyes, you can actually see the reflection of another person (Bardem?).
The poster featuring Javier Bardem is even stranger. The chair he's sitting on is breaking apart. He's bathed in flames that have hidden faces in them. If you zoom in on the mirrored ball he's holding, you can just barely make out the image of a baby. This again, would reaffirm that maybe this whole thing is about Jennifer Lawrence trying to get pregnant.
Then, we get to my favorite part of the poster(s): the little object with the strange symbol on it. I'm inclined to call it a lighter, since the shape seems to fit. The lighter actually also appears on Lawrence's poster, deep down on the bottom right side. After some serious internet digging, I discovered that the symbol is actually some sort of ancient rune called a Wendehorn. Are you ready to put on that tinfoil hat and strap the f*ck in? Here's where sh*t gets crazy.
Diving Into the Wendehorn
Before we dive into everything, let me explain runes. Runes were basically a set of letters in an ancient alphabet. (Kind of like how Russian uses its own alphabet.) They were used for Germanic languages before the Latin alphabet was adopted. That's why we're looking toward German history to understand this symbol. Actually, and more specifically, this ancient rune can be traced back to Nazi Germany.
Occultism has been loosely associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. A book called Hitler's Elite explains how they used runes in some of their documentation. In this diagram, you might recognize the symbol we're looking for. It has been split in two: The "Leben-Rune" and the "Toten-Rune," or in English, the "life rune" and "death rune." I'm not suggesting Mother! involves Nazis in any way (hey, though, never say never). I'm saying that, if you use the runes as a jumping off point, you get somewhere pretty wild.
I discovered that, when you combine the life rune and death rune, it's called the Wendehorn. The nature of the symbol has been explored in plenty of different texts. The Wendehorn was thought to have been developed by an acclaimed occultist known as Guido Von List. It's said to be a "complex and yet austere symbol that symbolises the uniting and bonding of contrasts and disparities — 'life and death,' 'order and chaos,' . . . 'good and bad,' 'fire and ice,' 'mind and body,' 'light and dark.'"
Get this: the rune is also, according to List, associated with Freyja, the Norse goddess of "love, fertility, battle, and death." If we're thinking fertility, this brings us right back to Mother!, doesn't it? Perhaps this group of crazies is praying to Freyja to help Jennifer Lawrence bring a child into this world. Or, take it one step further — maybe they're trying to summon the goddess herself.
Hints From the Trailer
This brings us to the last piece of the puzzle: the trailer, which we have to pretty much take at face value for the time being. Here's what I know for certain: Lawrence and Bardem have built some kind of idyllic life in the countryside together. Lawrence has painstakingly put together the home of her dreams, and suddenly, two strangers show up: a man and his wife.
Bardem professes not to know them, but they have pictures of him. Then, more people show up. Lots and lots of people. Lawrence finds some f*cked up sh*t in the basement. A light bulb bleeds. Domhnall Gleeson inexplicably shows up. Kristen Wiig allegedly is in the cast, but she's nowhere to be seen. (Freyja, amiright?) By the end, it seems pretty clear that, in some kind of Rosemary's Baby twist, everyone is in on it except for Lawrence, and she's just trying to make it out of the whole thing in one piece.
That's all we have at this point. I do really think the Wendehorn might be the key to all of it. After all, in her new Vogue profile as part of the publication's September issue, Lawrence teased that "the themes are just huge." And what greater themes are there than life and death, light and dark, order and chaos? As a parting gift, consider this shot of the trailer. Could that be a half-painted Wendehorn? Maybe I'm just overthinking it. But, I mean, this is Darren Aronofsky. Anything goes.