Not Your Ordinary Swan

The movie Black Swan is an interesting thriller that exposes another side to ballet

by Candace Brinkley ’12, Staff Writer

“I had the craziest dream last night about a girl who has turned into a swan, but her prince falls for the wrong girl and she kills herself.” This is the premise of the famous ballet Swan Lake, but the movie Black Swan adds an interesting twist to this traditional plot. Starring Natalie Portman, who recently won Best Actress at the Oscars for this movie, Mila Kunis, and directed by Darren Aronofsky, this psycho thriller leaves the audience in a state of amazement and frankly confusion as they attempt to piece the storyline together throughout the movie.

Natalie Portman plays Nina Sayers, a young woman who is auditioning to become the principal dancer for her company. They plan on dancing Swan Lake their upcoming season. In Swan Lake, the prince meets a beautiful woman named Odette, or the white swan, who, because of an evil spell, turns into a swan at night. To break the curse she must find a prince to fall in love with her. She finds a prince that falls madly in love with her, but the evil sorcerer makes the him accidentally propose to another woman, a black swan who looks like Odette. She is depressed and commits suicide and the prince soon after follows suite.

To put in an interesting twist, the director of the company decides to cast both the white and black swan as the same person. Nina Sayers (Portman) is beautiful and graceful and has no difficulty performing the white swan. However, the black swan – with its dangerous and wild movement – poses a problem for the timid Nina. Throughout the movie she fights to find the black swan within her, but this process leads to many psychotic breakdowns as she desires to be perfect.

Nina had the difficult task of acting as two people with two different personality. Her need to be a perfect black swan drove her to insanity. She imagined situations and even feathers growing on her body. I truly enjoyed the scene were Portman “kills herself” during the intermission of the performance. She symbolically killed her timid self to make room for the black swan that was inside of her. It was a captivating spectacle in her impossible journey to absolute perfection.

Ballet. An art form that is beautiful to watch and seemingly easy to imitate. After watching this movie it is apparent that ballet is not only extremely difficult to master but places a ton of pressure on the dancer – pressure to be perfect with technique and with their body image. Black Swan exposes the dark side of ballet. I recommend that you come into this movie with an open mind and be ready for the unexpected twist and turns in the story.

(Photo Credit

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