Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dancing with myself: Black Swan



The other day I found myself watching Vertigo while surfing the web. I would momentarily look up and relish the profound intensity and sadness that seems to permeate Hitchcock films. No one is truly happy. The protagonists are always sullen or haunted, the antagonists hide
wickedness behind Cheshire cat grins.
And I was sad for a moment. Sad that they just don't make movies like these anymore.

Black Swan is the closest to new Hitchcock we'll ever get. I don't often leave a movie feeling fulfilled. Aronofsky took on the idea of ballet, and the idea of the ballerina, and used them to construct a staggeringly beautiful piece of film for women.
Natalie Portman is a ballerina, hard working and dedicated, who finally gets her chance at a starring role. But will the pressure be too much?

This film is about pressure. It's very much about women, our relationships with each other and our bodies. For a ballerina, and for most women, the ideal instilled in us creates an incredible amount of pressure.
We want our bodies to be perfect, we put pressure on them, it becomes impossible to have a healthy relationship with our bodies when we view them as a thing standing in the way of achieving perfection. We see perfection or flaws in other women, we put pressure on ourselves and others to compete for the ideal, it becomes impossible to have a healthy relationship with other women.
The ballet is a pure and beautiful form, it is not vulgar or sexual. Nina has rejected or repressed any vulgarity or sexuality in herself.

If our bodies are the enemy, if other women are merely competitors or has-beens, if we cannot even love ourselves- can we live an ordinary life without cracking?
If we cannot accept our limitations and imperfections, our humanity, can we be human?
Can we achieve the ideal, "have it all", the perfection, without completely destroying ourselves and everyone around us?
The Black Swan rises up, it flutters its massive wings, it hisses "No.", and swallows us whole.

Go. See. This. Movie.

"Get thee to a nunn'ry!"

-- Noel
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1 comment:

Nena Nadine said...

I love Aronofsky.No other director has consistently made me so connected and so emotional with the characters. I still cry every time I hear the mother speech on Requiem. (Note: I don't cry during movies.) A torture I'm willing to put myself threw over and over again. He really gets people and our emotional struggles.

I all ready couldn't wait to see Black Swan. And now you tell me that it's got the depth of female struggles! I'd worry about this with any other male director but Aronofsky will nail it. I Love Him!