“Black Swan”: A quest for perfection

Descent into madness (Flickr/See footnote)

Julie Tran

Ballet is a form of dance that requires precision from its dancers, but the journey to gain it is often debilitating.

Darren Aronovsky’s psychological thriller, “Black Swan,” explores the struggles one ballerina faces when given the role of the swan queen in her company’s interpretation of “Swan Lake.”

Natalie Portman plays as the protagonist, Nina Sayers, a young ballerina living in New York City who embodies the innocence and fragility of the white swan. Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is the director of the ballet and pushes Nina to explore her dark side so she can play the role of the black swan.

However, a new dancer named Lily (Mila Kunis) joins the company and instantly shows her prowess in front of everyone. To Nina, Lily is the personification of the black swan since she is more free-spirited, yet lustful at the same time.

As the movie progresses, Nina succumbs to bouts of insanity as she tries to explore her darker side and her animosity toward Lily escalates to a higher degree. The two characters engage in a rivalry that not only clashes their dance movements, but also their personalities.

The movie overall is a dark drama that catches the viewers with its stunning cinematography. The camera follows Nina as if it was her dark side slowly catching up to her. It also adds a stalker-like element to the movie as the viewers see Nina fall apart in front of everyone.

In addition, the film also unveils the elusive world of ballet and the struggles all ballet dancers face when performing. For example, a scene in which Nina tries to perfect a pirouette and through the strenuous action, she ends up breaking her toes. Another scene in the movie depicts Nina trying to perform the role of the black swan and ends up giving an unsatisfactory performance to Thomas.

As for the costumes depicted in the film, the extreme amount of detail going into every outfit is a true testament to the art of ballet. The white swan outfit shows the sense of fragility and purity through the usage of feathers, crystals, and layers of tulle. The black swan outfit shows a much darker element with sleek lines, seductive makeup, and distressed edges to display the grittiness of the role.

“Black Swan” is a movie that digs deep into the subconscious of the struggling artist. Through Nina, the audience can see the internal and external conflicts artists go through in order to refine and perfect their skills. Although some elements of the film can be daunting for some viewers, it is a movie that displays the raw talent and determination of these actors. The emotions exposed in the film shows how much artists suffer and the factors that can contribute to the degeneration of their minds.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vintfalken/2861398782/

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