On the day after Christmas 2010, we all voted to go see a movie and were torn between Black Swam (BS) and Harry Potter. I have been dying to see BS for weeks, but I knew it wasn’t really family material, especially since I had read the director also did Requiem for a Dream. But everyone rallied around BS, and my Husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law went to see the movie that everyone’s been talking about.
Also, this was notable because BS was being shown at Epic Theaters. Yes. YES.
I am not a movie critic, but I wanted to give BS a more thorough review because so many people asked for more details after my original BS post (which simply read, “This is not a movie you should watch with your in-laws. It was good though, and Natalie Portman was amazing. But… it was awkward.”). And you know what? BS deserves a real review! The movie was awesome. But I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so only read this if you’ve seen it, too!
In my opinion, BS was about a repressed, emotionally immature ballerina (Nina) who has a psychotic breakdown (schizophrenia?) when she earns the honor of dancing the Swan Queen. The Swan Queen requires you dance two roles with different personalities: the White Swan (WS) and the BS. NIna is already great at dancing the White Swan because this role perfectly represents her… Nina is, in fact, the WS. The WS is a metaphor for Nina’s pure innocence pre-breakdown.
Half of the movie is real, and half of the movie is what Nina sees and experiences as she has the breakdown. During the breakdown, Nina symbolically becomes the BS (the wings, the marks, the weird skin condition) because she is indulging her “dark side.” The dark side for Nina is characterized by sex (which is why there is so much sex in the movie). Sex drags Nina closer to becoming the BS as she has her breakdown.
Parts I think were real (SPOILERRRRRRRRRRRRS):
- REAL: Thomas the director does seduce her to ‘drag out’ the BS for the role on stage (however, of course, this only increases the stress on Nina and adds to her transformation into the BS in life and real breakdown)
- REAL: Lilly threatening her role as the Swan Queen (all the cattiness backstage?)
- REAL: Her crazy-ass Stage Mother being crazy the entire time (clipping the nail’s symbolized ‘clipping her wings’ to keep her pure)
- REAL: Her mom’s excessive painting indicate that the mom had mental disease, too, and saw it happening in her daughter (she cried out, “You’re sick!” when she locked Nina in her room the last time)
- NOT REAL: She didn’t really get super drunk or take X with Lilly. She would’ve been massively hungover the next day – it was just a hallucination. Maybe she had the first one at the bar with Lilly and the two guys, because Lilly confirmed they existed the next day.
- NOT REAL: Therefore, Lilly and Nina did not have actual sex (we know this because after sex, Lilly said something to Nina about being a ‘Good girl’ and then tried to smother her. Not real!)
- NOT REAL: Nina didn’t murder the real Lilly, of course. Lilly began to symbolize Nina’ own inner darkness, and Nina would hallucinate situations with Lilly in it. As Nina’s mind split in two, she projected herself on Lilly and saw her as a threat (for example, she would see her own face in other’s faces, etc). When Nina “killed” Lilly, she was having her complete breakdown and then went out and danced an amazing BS performance after failing as the WS (emotionally and literally – as she was dropped during the performance).
Now, I’m not sure what happened at the end. My gut is that she didn’t really stab herself or die; it was all symbolic as part of the total breakdown. People were freaking out around her because she was comatose, not because she was bleeding out.
And I’m only going to address the following two parts because I know people want to know my opinion of the following:
- Lesbian sex scene: The sex was gratuitous and awkward to watch with your in-laws. Otherwise, I think people are overly hyping the lesbian scene; to me, it’s just sex whether it’s straight or gay. But sex does sell, so I’m not surprised it’s a major motivator to get people (men?) interested in the movie.
- Thinspiration: I asked a friend who had an eating disorder if she thought it was a “triggering” movie and she said yes. I agree, but I think the movie was (unfortunately) realistic or close to realistic. Ballerinas really have that pressure on them. So maybe it’s good that people are talking about this, but be careful if you are easily triggered.
So – that’s my review!
What did YOU think of the movie?? What happened at the end? What was real and what was fake? Head over to this post to leave your comments – for some reason I cannot get comments to show up on this special/hidden page. So sorry!