This is from the Movie Review Series. I just watched Black Swan. I am still listening to the credits music, actually. You can listen to it here.
The beginning didn’t impress me. A woman treated like a 12 year old girl by her mother, she has a crush on her instructor. She is blinded, by the safety of her home, by the perfection of her moves. She has passion in her dancing, only she doesn’t show it. It’s trapped inside her and letting it out meant a total exposure of herself.
Meanwhile, a dark shadow follows her, obsessively . Nina tries to escape it, but it is a force beyond her power.
When Nina sees a threat in her new colleague, she changes. The role changes her from the beginning, the spectator is left to interpret whether the change is real or just the product of a tormented mind.
Nina(Natalie Portman) is the White Swan. But she has to play the Black Swan as well. The climax is murder. She murders the other black swan in order to be herself one. Her performance is brilliant. Only now she cannot be the White Swan again, the purity is gone.
The wound in the other girl’s womb is now gone, instead she is herself stabbed. Nina rises up to the final act. The final scene she has to jump over from a cliff. Nina hesitates, she knows that killing the White Swan meant killing herself. But she does it. For the sake of the performance.
The end justifies the meaning. And I take it as a methaphor for art and for the creator. There is sacrifice in creation. One must die for the other to live. And if there is some similitude to The Picture of Dorian Gray, I take it as such. The Other Black Swan is who Nina actually is- a personality repressed by all the discipline, self-imposed or imposed by her mother. She lets go of herself, takes off the cloak and kills the picture, in order to become the picture herself. She is The Black Swan as she dances, she feels and breathes evil.
To return to what she was before, to the White Swan, she cannot kill anyone but herself. She sees her womb stabbed, like she’d stabbed the Other Black Swan; the womb, the place where all evil dwells. And she accepts her sacrifice, to be perfect, and she dies, having got everything she ever wanted.
Aside this, there is the story of her mommy. A former ballerina herself, all she can do is make sure her daughter succeeds. Perfectionism in her case is compulsive, and it has two sides. Nina is the perfect part of her, and she controls her as carefully as she can. The other side is the black, dirty side of perfection. And if her obsessive control over Nina is from her heart, the drawings, her attitude emerge from her sick, troubled mind. Her maternal instinct knows that something bad is about to happen to her daughter and locks her in her room. Nina cannot be controlled though. At the final performance, the mother knows, as well as the daughter, what will happen when she jumps off the metal cliff. It’s like the cordon between them was never cut.
So what we actually see in this movie is that we cannot be two persons. We are either the Black Swan, and we kill the good in us, or the White Swan, we return to the initial condition, to the purity, to childhood, even; and by killing the evil in us, we die for a greater cause, one that is beyond us, and the film suggests that this is art by Nina’s last line:
I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect.