Saturday, December 25, 2010

Separated at birth: Black Swan

Friday, December 24, 2010 05:37 PM


One look at the poster art for Black Swan  and my 1981 class picture made me realize  what I had long suspected was true;  I do have a twin out there that I was torn from at birth by some bizarre flux in both time and space wherein I was sent backward through time and across space to the middle of Not Quite Nowhere, Ohio. Replace "ballerina" with "couch potato defaulting on his student loans" and the parallels are inescapable.  Even down to a hypothetical romantic interlude with Mila Kunis.

Black Swan was an amazing film to watch; great performances, breathtaking visual effects, and an abundance of cringe worthy creep. All these impressive elements fail to come together to make a whole that is greater than its sum.  

Much of Black Swan details the artist's conflict between the Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of creative expression.  The medium for this discussion is the White and Black Swan roles from the ballet Swan Lake.  Both these roles are traditionally danced by the same ballerina, in this case, perfection obsessed, Nina Auschenbach.   She has the technical (Apollonian) skills to dance the White Swan, but is told repeatedly that she needs to develope the passion and sensuality required for the Black Swan.  Her muse for the Dionysian Black Swan is the untamed, wild beauty of passionate co ballerina, Tadzio (Mila Kunis).

Nina's struggle to encompass both ends of the dichotomy has a dire effect on her and her art. As the Silenus  (the Dionysian "teacher figure," traditionally red headed) like Thomas, played by a very subdued Vincent Cassell, tells her, “the only person standing in your way is you.” This turns out to be true in many ways.

Casell was much more fun to watch as the wildeyed, manically grinning Joseph from Sheitan, (which I first read about here) to this very restrained but just as manipulative figure.

Black Swan also explores psychological thriller terrritory as Nina struggles to cope with her rapidly decaying world and the line between reality and fantasy becomes increasingly blurred.

In the final scene, Black Swan makes its last, and weakest, revelation; once again, the artist who gives so much of themselves to appease the cfritical masses suffers great personal injury at the expense of appeaseing the masses.

Saturday, December 25, 2010 06:33 PM

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