Celebrated for his provocative contributions to the world of contemporary cinema, Darren Aronofsky‘s work is marked by its exploration of psychological disturbances, obsession, and innovative storytelling techniques. Born in Brooklyn in 1969, he studied film at Harvard University before making his directorial debut with the acclaimed feature film, Pi, in 1998.

Aronofsky’s breakthrough came with 2000’s Requiem for a Dream, a haunting portrait of addiction, despair and the perils of modern life. His visionary approach to human frailty continued with The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan, a psycho-thriller that earned sweeping critical acclaim and countless accolades.

Over the past decade, Aronofsky has continued to push artistic boundaries with controversial films like Noah, mother! and The Whale, often delving into biblical themes and environmental allegories. Distinguished for their bold narratives, striking visuals, and profound exploration of the human condition, he’s cemented his status as one of the most exciting moviemakers of the modern era.

In a 2011 interview with Five Books, Aronofsky shared five of his all-time favorite books that explore the art of film. From Sidney Lumet’s mesmerizing memoir to François Truffaut’s collected conversations with Alfred Hitchcock, check out his recommendations below, and dive into more reading lists from luminary directors here.

Darren Aronofsky’s Reading List

Making Movies by Sidney Lumet (also rec’d by David Copperfield)

“I remember just devouring it over a weekend, eating up those stories about Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men. It’s an incredibly clear, honest, and precise discussion of the films Lumet made over the course of his career. There are many pearls of wisdom about directing and filmmaking in the book.” -DA

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

“It’s the Bible for screenwriters. I think it’s the best book on how to write a screenplay ever written. It helped me get through so many roadblocks as a writer.” -DA

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind (also rec’d by Margot Robbie & Michael. J. Fox

“This is an incredibly delicious read—just a great, great account of that era from Easy Rider (’69) through the mid-’70s.  It’s the story of all those great filmmakers—my icons—Scorsese, Coppola, Friedkin, and Bogdanovich.  They changed the way movies were made in America.  It recounts their adventures in making movies.” -DA

The Ragman’s Son by Kirk Douglas

“It’s basically Kirk Douglas’s story of coming from nothing—he was a ragman’s son—and achieving the American dream through the Hollywood movie system… He is someone who made great movies, didn’t forget where he came from, was proud of where he came from, and represented where he came from his entire life.” -DA

Hitchcock by François Truffaut

“It’s an amazing guide to Hitchcock’s thought process. Truffaut, being a fantastic filmmaker himself, was able to ask really profound, informed questions that really got to the heart of filmmaking. Truffaut got Hitchcock to reveal a lot of the different techniques that he used to put together his monumental body of work.” -DA

(via Five Books; photo by Mike Rosenthal)

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Categories: Directors