Sunday, 13 February 2011

Black Swan

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....





9 comments:

Gwilym Williams said...

I'll be interested to know what you make of The King's Speech which is showing here (orig. ver.) from next week. I think my next cinema visit will be to see Another Day.

Alan Burnett said...

I have completely lost the habit of watching films, either at the cinema or, in the vast majority of cases, at home. I sometimes wonder if it is my deafness and the very length of a movie makes it too much like hard work. But, I suspect this is an excuse. So I will try and get to The Black Swan to see whether I can revive my cinema-going habits.

AquaMarina said...

thanks for your review Dominic, like you I rarely go to the cinema but love the experience and wish I did it more each time I go. Interestingly - we went to see the King's Speech last night and enjoyed it very much. Been researching Lionel Logue on the internet today and he's quite a character. It's a very good story and I hope you enjoy it. Maybe I'll get to see Black Swan next weekend...

Niamh B said...

looking forward to your take on the kings speech, went to see it last night, I'll say no more for now

The Solitary Walker said...

We've seen both 'Black Swan' and 'The King's Speech'. On the whole I agree with your assessment of 'Black Swan', which disappointed, though it did keep me gripped. That old Romantic cliche of the suffering artist/performer finding true expression only when releasing inner demons and finding perfection and sublimation only in death is a hoary one.

Hope you enjoy 'The King's Speech'. We liked it a lot, and found it lived up to all the ecstatic reviews.

tony said...

Cheers for the Dan x2x3.New to me. They look good.
I'm the same as you, I always wish I went more often to the Pictures.The act of going out & being 'social' (albeit in silence!) Is always worth the effort.......... I hope to see the Swans & King's soon.I keep hearing The King's Speech is a good movie....but i am always a bit sceptical about 'Posh-People Films'but I will give it a wirl.

Ann O'Dyne said...

oh Tony - it's about an AUSTRALIAN - so not possible to be posh.
I really don't want Helena B-C to get the Oscar win for it, as she is up against Our National Treasure Jackie Weaver playing a gangster family matriarch in 'Animal Kingdom' - she deserves to win.
The main aspect of the King's Speech is that royals have an absolutely rotten upbringing.

Black Swan is not going to cause any surge in ballet school enrolments I can tell you that for free.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dominic, I discovered Dan & Dan on Youtube some time ago and was completely bowled over but then somehow forgot about it - thanks for the reminder! Apparently 'they' are only one person, doing some digital magic with video so as to make it seem like two. Note that there's always a space between 'them', that's where two videos are joined. The guy is a genius.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you enjoyed The Black Swan - it didn't always get good reviews did it. Hope you also enjoy Kings Speech.