Darren Aronofsky is an American filmmaker born on February 12, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Edward R. Murrow High School, a school with an arts-focused curriculum, he attended Harvard University to study anthropology and subsequently the American Film Institute to study directing. His film debut, Pi, a psychological thriller, was released in 1998.
Pi tells the story of Max Cohen, a mathematician who believes that everything in the universe can be explained through numbers. He attempts to predict the stock market with his supercomputer, Euclid. At first, he is successful in his endeavors and Wall Street firms recruit him for his predictive accuracy. Max soon becomes obsessed with the notion that there is one number that acts as the key to unlocking the secrets of the future. However, as film critic Roger Ebert explains, “if one finds the mathematical key to everything, that would include God, stock prices, the weather, history, the future, baseball scores and the response to all moves in Go. That assumes there is a key. When you're looking for something that doesn't exist, it makes you crazier the closer you get to it.” Thus, Max becomes manic after the search for this make-believe number.
Pi is shot on black-and-white film and features only one actor. It is a character piece that focuses on the mental state of a mathematician who deteriorates under the complexity of his work. Thus, this film had little commercial value considering its avant-garde subject matter and limited technical resources. Yet, Darren Aronofsky’s debut indie movie defied the odds and grossed $3 million at the box office on only a $68,000 budget. Aronofsky also won Best Director at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards, and the Gotham Open Palm Award.
Since his directorial debut in 1998, Aronofsky has directed numerous acclaimed movies, including Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan, and Noah.