Black vs. White

Black vs. White

Darren Aronofsky returns to the director’s chair, after his successful

movie The Wrestler (2008), for the current silver screen masterpiece

Black Swan.  Natalie Portman, who plays the film’s protagonist Nina

Sayers, has already picked up a Golden Globe for best actress, and has

been nominated for the same title at the Oscars.  Black Swan also

boasts being nominated for best picture and best director at the


Black Swan tells Nina Sayers’ story in a film noir manner with the

added suspense of a thriller.  Sayers is a twenty-eight year old

ballerina that places an awful amount of stress on herself in the

pursuit of perfection.   Her artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent

Cassel) announces that he will be making a change to his production of

Swan Lake: the white swan and the black swan will both be played by

one dancer.  Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) loses her place as Leroy’s

lead dancer and a battle ensues between Sayers and Lily (Mila Kunis)

for the part of Swan Queen.

The acting is first class.  Portman and Kunis represent the battle

between innocence and wildness; good and bad; the white swan versus

the black swan.  The performances of these two actresses present an

amazing contrast of personalities which relates directly to Swan Lake.

Cassel plays an arrogant yet brilliant producer that only a French

man could portray in such a fantastic manner.  Ryder has a rather

small part in the film.  However, her character plays significant

importance in setting an eerie undertone to the movie which Ryder

accomplishes perfectly.

As previously mentioned there is an eerie undertone to the movie.  As

well as the acting, the direction of the camera plays a key role in

achieving this.  Aronofsky uses some classic techniques to create this

atmosphere.  For example, he uses the follow shot to create the sense

that Sayers is constantly being followed by a hidden being.  Another

fantastic direction of camera is the use of focalisation.  This allows

the audience to experience the dizzying lengths at which the

ballerinas must go to in the quest for perfection.

No dark movie would be complete without an equally dark score, and

Black Swan does not disappoint.  Once again Aronofsky has teamed up

with English composer Clint Mansell.  Mansell has taken Tchaikovsky’s

music from Swan Lake and adapted it to set the suspense in the

thrilling scenes of the movie.  It works brilliantly and assists the

great acting and directing to create a cinematic masterpiece.

Prior to my viewing of Black Swan, I knew very little about the film

apart from it concerning ballet.  Therefore it wasn’t a priority on my

to-view list.  After seeing the movie I have now gained a much greater

respect and admiration for ballet dancers, henceforth opening my eyes

to a new art.  Regardless of this, Black Swan creates a world in which

a sheltered twenty-eight year old has to confront the sexualised

environment around her.  This mental strain coupled with the physical

strain on the body from dancing is sure to have profound effects on

the mind and body; Black Swan captures this with sobering intensity.


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