Monday, 17 October 2011

Black Swan- Review

Film Cover
Directed by Darren Aronofsky, this film is of an orchestral, horror, drama thriller genre and stars Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers, Mila Kunis as Lily, Barbara Hershey as Nina’s mother Erica, and Winona Ryder as Beth Macintyre and Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy.
A psycho melodramatic film, Nina Sayers (played by Natalie Portman) is a young beautiful vulnerable character that has self harming issues but has it kept under control. Desperately trying to aim for a lead role in her ballet company, Nina achieves one but is challenged to also play her character’s evil twin, the Black Swan. As Nina develops her dark sensual side (by “playing with herself” and taking ecstasy, hallucinations, anxiety attacks grows increasingly often until her full nervous breakdown.
The film mainly focuses on fear itself as well as the fear of a powerful man, love of perfection, dance and the passion and hatred of the mother. It also focuses on how females can become the sexual predators as well as fragile characters.
The Film's influences are noticeable in the film like Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes
The film’s influences are noticeable in the film, such as Powell and Pressburger’s The Red shoes, in which the scene where Nina POV pirouette attacks is influenced from them. there is also some German Expressionism used in the film similar to the setting of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, notably the melodramatic acting and contrast of the characters, the director’s room which has jagged black shapes which can quite be understood as a reference to Nina’s dark personality arising.
The characters of the film are quite unique but for Lily and Nina, they contrast a lot from each other. Nina is more of a gentle, fragile, innocent character who wears pale coloured clothing especially her pink fluffy scarf to reflect her personality and of a white swan; whereas Lily, who is the opposite to Nina is more of a rebel and wears dark clothing like black tops and trousers to reflect the idea of evil as well as the dominance of the black swan. According to Peter Bradshaw, “As a study of female breakdown, Black Swan is the best thing since Polanski's Repulsion. But, in fact, with its creepy Manhattan interiors, its looming, close-up camera movements, and its conspiracy of evil, it looks like Rosemary's Baby, particularly in cinematographer Matthew Libatique's brilliant continuous shot in which Nina makes out with a random guy in a club, then wakes up to what she's doing and, freaked out, blunders through murky winding corridors and out into the night air – there seems no difference between inside and outside. Everywhere is claustrophobic.” (Bradshaw, 2011) 
The coloured clothing to depict the chracter's nature and personality
Some props are used to hint at Nina’s derangement, such as the statue of a half man half beast which this idea is then later used in one of Nina’s performance as she becomes “one” with the black swan. Other props used are her mother’s paintings of her in Munch style, which later from Nina’s POV turns out delusional as it begins to write and scream, the lighting in the disco bar which begins to reveal her rebellious side, and lastly, her important items like Beth’s lipstick and the knife which again reflects on Nina’s idea of trying to be perfect like Beth and the knife which she self harms with if all goes wrong. The mirrors also play a big part to the film since it is mostly on screen and gives the feeling of uneasiness especially when it comes to the scene where Nina’s reflection begins to turn round and scratches at the “feathery” rash. The Swan lake song is played continuously throughout the film as a way of showing the determination and life. The tattoo drawn on Lily’s back of a pair of black wings acts as a “vehicle” when Nina begins to hallucinate having Lily with her in bed and the tattoo expands and begins to travel up to Nina, as a way of representing Nina’s derangement arising until her final performance of where her "wings" grow out of her.
The Mirrors play a vital role in Nina's derangement
The plot is quite simple to follow and it quite reflects the life of Nina with a lot of OV shots used to focus on Nina, though over the course of the film as Nina goes into her final breakdown, the question arises that does Lily exist? She happens to be the opposite of Nina who’s also interested in playing the lead role. Even Tom Charity says, “Right on cue, in walks a new dancer to the company, Lily whose technique may be sloppy, but who knows how to have a good time. Lily seems determined to befriend Nina, but is she sincere? Is she even real, come to that, or just a fantasy Nina’s has dreamed up to help her play the part?” (Charity, 2011) even all of the strange happenings in Nina’s life like Beth stabbing herself, Nina growing wings, feathers and feet. The idea of the change as what Sukhdev Sandhu describes, “This kind of Cronenbergian body horror should revolt us. But its absurdity – and the literalness with which this absurdity is depicted – turns out to be delightful.” (Sandhu, 2011)

The CGI effect used on Nina as her "wings" spreads out.

List of illustrations:
 The CGI effect used on Nina as her "wings" spreads out (online):
Aronofsky, D (2010) The Black Swan: Film cover (onilne):

Aronofsky, D (2010) The Black Swan: The Film's influences are noticeable in the film like Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes (online):

Aronofsky, D (2010) The Black Swan:The coloured clothing to depict the chracter's nature and personality (online):

Aronofsky, D (2010) The Black Swan: The Mirrors play a vital role in Nina's derrangement (online): - (Accessed on 14/10/11)

Aronofsky, D (2010) The Black Swan: 

Bradshaw, P (2011) Black Swan- review (online):

Charity, T (2011) Black Swan Review (online):

Sandhu, S (2011) Black Swan, review (online):

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