fredag 19. august 2016


"We all know the story. 
Virginal girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan. She desires freedom 
but only true love can break the spell. Her wish is nearly granted in the form of a 
prince, but before he can declare his love her lustful twin, the black swan, tricks 
and seduces him. Devastated the white swan leaps off a cliff killing 
herself and, in death, finds freedom." 
- Thomas Leroy

This hauntingly beautiful film is directed by Darren Aronofsky (2010) and is mostly 
considered a psychological thriller, and as Aronofsky says himself; contains elements 
of horror, paranoia and drama which have connected and come together.

The film touches upon a variety of feelings and themes such as pursuit of perfection, loss 
of innocence, mental illness, identity and sexuality. But the first thing that comes to mind is 
the loss of innocence. The fragile being Nina has literally been the white swan her whole 
life, as she seems to have suppressed other desires and feelings such as her own sexuality, 
her own sense of identity and personality, as she seems to be sheltered by her over-protective 
mother which conveys the message that Nina can only be truly safe in the presence of her 
mother, by staying home behind closed doors. 

We first see Nina presented as this fragile, anxious little girl, desperately looking for 
approval by always doing what she has been told, the right thing. In her meeting with her 
new teacher and director Thomas Leroy her view of what is seen as "perfection", - what 
she has aspired to become her whole life, is turned upside-down. Playing the roles for 
Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake has been her dream for long, yet unaware of what the play 
will reveal about her own self. 

Her fragility and sadness genuinely shines through in her role as the white swan, her state 
of mind being constantly tense, fearful and melancholic. It all comes along very naturally. 
But what about the other part, the evil twin - the seductive black swan?

In her world of innocence/adolescence there's a darkness lurking 
underneath, the blood, the scratching on her back and the encounters with her evil 
doppelgänger that seems to be haunting her, all is gradually floating up to the surface 
throughout the film. Her psychological journey is about to unfold in the meeting of 
her complete opposite, her fellow ballet dancer Lily. She's everything Nina isn't and 
what she now so desperately aspires to be; tough, charismatic, sensual and has 
the ability of effortlessly let herself loose in her dancing. From the start Lily 
seductively functions as a bite for Nina, to evoke her darker desires and feelings.

The more she immerses herself into the role of the black swan, the more she 
becomes it herself. But due to her lack of self-esteem and haunting fear, the lines 
between reality and her own delusions starts to blur. Nina is haunted by fear in 
everything she does, which develops into a paranoia, from her constant obsession 
of approval and perfection, also being extra anxious about the strong competition 
for the the role, especially from Lily, that she might steal her role or surpass her. 
- But her strive for perfection is merely based on an illusion which along with her
distorted reality, contains destruction in order to achieve the perfection she's 
aiming for.

Thomas Leroy: 
"The final act. Your final dance! You've tasted your dream. Touched it! Only to
have it crushed. Your heart is broken. Wounded! Your life force fading. The blood 
drips. The black swan stole your love! There is only one way to end the pain. 
You're not fearful, but filled with acceptance! And you look down at Rothbart 
and then at the Prince. And then yes, the audience! And then you jump!"

This act, this tragedy, becomes Nina's destiny too, and can also be seen as a visual 
representation that is perceived as a metaphor of being a true artist; that you have to 
live it and breathe it, sacrifying your own self, getting lost in it for not only to 
create, but to become the artwork itself.

I'm still left with a lot of questions...
What was this darkness? This evil twin? Does it represent her fear of feelings she has 
suppressed for long, which had developed into some inner demons she had to let go of in 
a pursuit of freedom?

(Was destruction her only doorway to freedom?)  

There's many takes on this, - did this persona reveal to some degree her true self? Or did 
she use the role to channel her emotions, her struggles, as way of enabling herself to let 
loose/go of her inner demons, so that by releasing them she could confront them, 
live/breathe them, and by the realization that they had possessed her she embraced it 
as a part of becoming the perfect black swan.

Or just a reminder that she wasn't strong enough to cope with life's darker sides 
and difficulties?

- To this point her whole life seemed to resonate with the Swan Lake story, but 
unlike the white swan she did in a way achieve her dream to play the role 
perfectly, breathe it and live it, - not letting anyone or anything take it 
away from her. 

[last lines]
Thomas Leroy: Nina, what did you do?
Nina: I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect.


Ever felt like you don't really know who you are? What you are doing and (why)? Are 
you just being good cause it's good to be good? Ever thought about your own desires, 
what's selfish and what's not?  Perhaps your own well being and happiness doesn't have 
to be entirely based on your own pleasures, but the person you become through the 
choices you make?  

Ever felt like you have some inner darkness, some unknown territory not yet 
explored? Suppressed? Maybe you have just been hiding from what you truly are? 
- Sometimes I wonder, can't I be anything, everything? I find every aspect of the 
human condition beautiful, even the darkest, deepest; wounds, sorrows, loneliness, 
loss, getting hurt, which are all emotions we need to experience as a journey through 
life, to become who we are as these hardships pushes us to think, learning to use our 
own power of reasoning in order to learn to choose to act rationally and with 
heart, not by fear or desire. And by developing your own thought you shape 
your identity, even though it seems to be an endless process...