We went to see the film Black Swan the other night. I'd seen it mentioned in the media often enough to be curious, but hadn't paid sufficient attention to what I'd seen to know much about it. I'd seen the same striking photo of Natalie Portman in her black swan get-up as everyone else, so I knew it was about ballet, but that was about all. Probably a bit like Billy Elliot...
Nina is an ambitious ballerina driven to the limit by the pushy mum-from-hell. She wins the part of the Swan in Swan Lake. The part requires the dancer to play two characters: the White Swan and the Black Swan. She is ideally suited to the role of the White Swan but as she comes to terms with that of her evil sister, the Black Swan, her mental health deteriorates.
Nina's startling hallucinations make for watchable cinema. The ballet was well done on the whole: although use was made of doubles, it's obviously no mean feat for actors to pretend to be dancers. On reflection, though, I had reservations. It played up for all it was worth to commonplace ballet stereotypes: the pushy mum, the bitchiness and the megalomanic, sexually abusive ballet master. It also played on the popular misconception regarding artists in general: that artists live what they're making when they're not actually in the act of making it or, to put it the other way round, make work based on what they're feeling at the time. Wordsworth famously talked of poetry being "emotion recollected in tranquility" rather than an outpouring of what he was feeling at a particular moment. Beethoven wrote some of his most cheerful tunes when he was feeling miserable and vice versa. Nina's Swan turns out to be a great success but in real life, contrary to what the film suggests, this would be despite rather than because of the fact that she had lost control of a life which had been totally taken over by the role.
Perhaps I'm being too critical. Perhaps, because there is so much about the film that is so good, it leads one to expect it to be deeper. As a thriller, it worked well. It was worth the six quid. Whenever we go to the cinema, I come out wishing I went more often. In this case, the wish is coming true: we're off to see The King's Speech tonight.
On a humorous note, Duncan Hall posted a link to Dan and Dan on Facebook. Perhaps everyone else knows this guy/these guys and I'm years behind. Anyway, they/he are new to me. I've just spent an hilarious hour of a sleepless night watching his/their Youtube channel. It was such fun I couldn't resist going over the top and embedding three of his/their videos....
5 years ago