phoenix from the swans’ ashes
in order to deliver a performance that will give peace to her body and soul, nina sayers (natalie portman) must summon enough courage to endure and survive all the challenges and conflicts confined in the tight walls of herself.
in darren aronofsky’s 2010 movie black swan, you feel the pain of nina as she break her bones, you sense her agony as she peels and touches the wounds from her skin, you smell her sweat, you evade the thrusts of her ribcage, you inhale the weight of her shallow breathing, you share the pleasures of her orgasm, you sympathize with her fears, you relate to her rebellion and you join her in her paranoia.
aronofsky’s use of tight shots, the tight spaces and the constant score of contemporary-classical music playing in the background effectively heightens the mood of suspense that further highlights the boiling internal conflicts of nina.
as you watch further, you’ll feel claustrophobia closing into you. and just like nina, you will definitely feel the need to break free the soonest time possible.
mirrors subtly presented through the film provide nina’s character various avenues of escape. limited and sometimes extreme they may seem, but the shock they bring somehow gives a subconscious feeling of instant comfort from that alternative universe.
the drug she took with her co-ballerina lily (mila kunis) also serves as a quick escape from the tight spaces of her persona. this allowed her to let loose, and somehow summon the inner black swan that is repressed inside her.
during the course of the film, you will see how nina’s character struggles to break free from herself by trying to perfect the dance for both the white and the black swan. it is like a tight battle that she’s trying to resolve in order to achieve harmony between the yin and the yang of her persona. in the stage, where there is much bigger space, ultimate freedom can be possibly achieved if both her white and her black personas can deliver.
in the stage with much bigger space, we see the vulnerability and the strength of nina. when her dark persona eclipsed her seemingly fragile, meek, calculated and scared self, she delivers and she floats above the lake of the audiences’ applause.
i like aronofsky’s treatment of the story and how he presented this in-your-face psycho drama about delusions caused by internal conflicts and the steaming desire to break free.
the music helped a lot in the building of the climax up to the denouement down to the conclusion.
natalie portman, mila kunis, and barbara hershey’s (as erica sayers, nina’s mom) performances added enough texture, grime and grit to the whole tight picture that made it more interesting to the senses.
overall, it was a delight to witness an ensemble of performance that begins with a powerful imagery and ends with a more powerful one. the ending that took part on the stage is one of my favorite parts of the movie.
in the stage, where the binary opposition of the black and the white must be one, freedom was achieved.
for in the end, when the black and the white swan killed each other to become one, a phoenix was born out of the ashes.