Analyzing The Psychological Masterpiece Film 'Black Swan'
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Analyzing The Psychological Masterpiece Film 'Black Swan'

Darren Aronosfky's "Black Swan" deals with the horror of perfection, through an exceptional performance by Natalie Portman.

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black swan

This article contains spoilers for 'Black Swan'

The award-winning film "Black Swan" by director Darren Aronofsky stunned audiences with its grim story about a ballerinas dark drive for perfection. Natalie Portman plays a ballerina named Nina who performs in a New York ballet company and has been pushing herself to reach the top of her success. The movie takes place around the production of Swan Lake. The artistic director of the company picks Nina as his top to be the prima ballerina (head role). Although a newcomer emerges in the company named Lily, who is played by Mila Kunis. Lily embodies every characteristic of the "Black Swan" producing a rivalry between Nina who embodies every characteristic of the White Swan. As Nina's drive for perfection starts to take over, her dark side starts to emerge in this psychological thriller, showing impactful symbolism throughout the movie and channeling the complexity of perfectionism.

Within the first few scenes of "Black Swan," Nina is seen dancing with a freakish looking black bird. The opening scene is basically Nina portraying the white swan within the ballet Swan Lake. It's around a two-minute piece that compiles love, anger, sadness and isolation. The importance of this scene is that it sets the whole tone for the movie. The movie blends a beautiful dark twisted nature around the atmosphere of its scenes, such as grey tones and subtle hallucinations. The importance of this beginning scene is that it shows Nina at her most pure and fragile, and it is an introduction to her character and how she is depicted in the real world. It is also the start of Nina's character development, as she starts out white and pure, but throughout the movie ends in a more dark and sultry way. The scene can arguably be seen as poetic as well, building a story through melody and dance to help grasp the audience's view on what is to come. Therefore the beginning scene of the movie is one of the most vital parts of the movie because it begins the character development of Nina.

The inciting incident of the plot is told through the rivalry of Nina and Lily. Nina is already an extremely stressed out worker, she tries day and day again to practice, she tried to seduce the artistic director as a connection for her to play the white/black swan in the Swan Lake and she also argues with an overly protective mother daily. This all shows how Nina always chooses to escape into the world of ballet, and how it gets her to be at her happiest. Therefore when Lily enters the studio, the inciting incident starts to begin. Nina and Lily had a connection from the beginning, with Nina being a more pure person while Lily has a more sinful and "bad girl" nature. One night Lily and Nina go out clubbing, and later end up intoxicated and having intercourse within Nina's bedroom. As the scene is occurring Nina notices things such as her Lily's face being replaced with her face, and the tattooed black wings on Lily back beginning to move and grow. This is all signs of how Nina fears that Lily will take her place as the black swan. The next morning Nina is late to rehearsal and confronts Lily about last night but Lily claims that it never happened. This starts the conflict between Nina and Lily, as the artistic director starts to notice Lily as the "Black Swan," which causes envy in Nina and sparks the rivalry of Nina's drive to take the part. Throughout this whole rivalry, Nina's main conflict is internal as her obsession with perfection starts to take over.

The rising action for Nina starts to begin when her hallucinations take its toll in becoming crazier and start to manipulate her mind. After the whole confrontation with Lily, Nina begins losing her mind within the part of the Black Swan. Nina tries everything to channel the "Black Swan," biting the artistic director's lip, going out clubbing, having same-sex affection, yelling at her mom, stealing materials, and this all starts to get to her head. Nina was once rehearsing in the studio alone staring at the mirror, at one point the mirror stops doing the same actions she does and starts glaring her down. Later all the lights turn off and Nina is seen running out of the studio panicked. A few scenes later, Nina visits one of the ballerinas she looked up too in the hospital (Beth played by Winona Ryder) who's been injured because of a tragic car accident. Nina visits her in the hospital to return things she stole from Beth and apologize for it. She walks in to find a slightly awoken Beth who resembles Nina, who then starts stabbing herself in the face multiple times yelling "perfect." Nina runs out of the hospital, and once she reaches home she starts to see her mothers paints move and scream "perfect diction", and by the end of the night Nina visualizes her self getting breaking her own legs to resemble swan legs. This whole hallucination would be considered the rising action, as it speaks on Nina's mind finally breaking and her being at her peak of sanity.

The climax of the "Black Swan" was built through two deaths of the same girl. The climax was built on the day of the show, where an angered Nina storms into the production to get fixed and ready but is then approached by an angered Lily. Lily is wearing the costume of the "Black Swan," that Nina was assigned to wear. Lily starts mocking Nina which results in a violent outburst, as Nina drives Lily into a mirror and stabbing her with a shard of glass in the action. Nina the whole time in the fight was forming physical features of a swan, such as bloodshed eyes, a long riffled neck, and scales. Nina also pictured herself being stabbed and resulted in many mind games during the scene. After the stabbing occurred, Nina continues to become the "Black Swan" in the production and does a tremendous job, although the whole performance Nina begins to hallucinate her self turning into a "Black Swan" physically. Once the "Black Swan" scene was over, Nina returned to her dresser to find an alive Lily congratulating her on the scene. This shocked Nina and started to wonder who she stabbed, as she then looks down to see a deep wound bleeding in the place she thought she stabbed Lily in.

By the end of the movie, Nina flops herself onto a mattress, shedding a tear. She ends with the applause of the audience and everyone congratulating her, but everyone starts to worry as her wound starts bleeding tremendously and the audience begins to panic as the closing scene is a white light with a whisper "perfect." This whole scene grasps the audience's attention because of Nina's characters developing into a complete anti-thesis of herself, which drove her into losing her self and breaking her sanity. This also shows the beauty of her progress, and how even through her darkest moments she still ended in a pure state. The movie did not contain subplots, because of the sole focus of Nina's mental progression, and they did not want a distraction from the focus.

Overall the award-winning movie "Black Swan" is a gorgeous psychological artistic piece, of the darkest moments that perfection can drive too, and its development in the mind.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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