Darren Aronofsky exposed the unseen side of the art of ballet in the movie Black Swan. The psychological thriller demonstrates the competitive and demanding atmosphere that each dancer in the ballet world is forced to endure in order to succeed. The movie unfolds around an adaptation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s renowned production Swan Lake, where Nina Sayers, a talented and devoted, but mentally unstable dancer, guides the audience through the story from her point of view. Due to her condition, Nina is constantly having hallucinations, which makes it difficult for the viewer to distinguish between reality and fiction. As she is the main character, it is important to discuss her relationship with her mother, director, and cast of Swan Lake.
Nina outstanding dancing skills and commitment helped her obtain the role of Swan Queen, where she impersonates two ballet characters, the black and white swans. Her innocent, controlling, and perfectionist personality makes her a natural for the role as White Swan. However, her real challenge is to portray the mysterious and seductive Black Swan. Through the film, she undergoes a radical transformation in order to become her opposite self. Part of Nina’s immature personality comes from her mother, Erica, who refuses to let her grow up. Erica exercises complete control over Nina’s life, which limits her from any social encounters. It is also mentioned in the movie that Erica quit her ballet career in order to raise Nina, which answers the question of why she is so controlling. She has become obsessed with her daughter and is constantly trying to fulfill her dreams through Nina’s career. Nonetheless, it cannot be determined how far Erica’s obsession has gone since the audience is only aware of Nina’s perception of the events.
Another important character in the film is the ballet director Thomas Leroy. From the beginning of the movie, it can be see that Leroy establishes a sexual relationship with the ballet dancers staring in the leading roles. However, Leroy stumbles with Nina’s shy and innocent personality. Leroy is key in Nina’s transformation, he awakens her sexual appetite and tries to bring out her seductive side. By touching and kissing Nina, Thomas hopes she will surrender control and become more aggressive, qualities that are both distinctive of the Black Swan. Unfortunately, Nina believes her “relationship” with Thomas is exclusive, when in reality he forms that particular link with whomever he sees as a rising star. For example, it is obvious there was some sort of intimate relationship between Thomas and Beth, whom he called “little princess” (Aronofsky). As Beth’s career reached an end, so did their relationship.
Beth represents Nina’s vision of perfection as a dancer. In her pursuit of becoming the ideal Black Swan, Nina created a fictional character named Lily, who represents who she wants to become. As opposed to Nina, Lily possesses all the characteristics of the Black Swan. She is effortless, natural, and seductive. Every scene in the movie where Lily appears is a product of Nina’s mind. For instance, the sex scene between Lily and Thomas represents Nina’s fear of being replaced by Lily, just like she replaced Beth. Also, Lily being a care-free woman symbolizes the freedom she desires but