Essay about Black Swan and Swan Lake

Submitted By sickgrl
Words: 1423
Pages: 6

Nutcracked What is the one quality that makes a film stand out from all the others? What quality makes a film be successful in both the box office and with an overwhelming majority of movie critics and audiences? Hundreds of films are released yearly, but only a few manage to make enough of an impact on audiences and critics alike to be considered for awards and be cemented into the public’s memory. The quality that makes a film a hit is actually more of a coalition of elements, a type of it factor: a solid plot, memorable cinematography, an excellent cast, a soundtrack that accompanies the film correctly, and a clear and concise mood that engulfs the audience’s attention and heart. Black Swan possesses all these elements and the array of accolades, critical and audience acclaim, and box office success is a testament to it’s it factor.
Black Swan is a 2010 psychological thriller film directed by Darren Aronofsky. The plot revolves around the upcoming production of Swan Lake by a prestigious New York City ballet company. The Swan Lake production requires a ballerina to play both the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the protagonist, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, for which Lily (Mila Kunis), a new arrival to the company, is a perfect fit to rival Nina. The pressure of the competition for the part and the incredibly high standards set for the ballet causes Nina to gradually lose her grip on reality and practice herself to madness. The audacious plot makes sure to keep its audience hanging onto their breath until the very last, revealing scene. The detail to which the film goes to explore the work that goes into a ballet piece, and the insanity that it can cause makes Black Swan a very innovative film in both the thriller and the dance film genre. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times describes how this aspect makes the film entrancing: “One of the pleasures of “Black Swan” is its lack of reverence toward the rarefied world of ballet, which to outsiders can look as lively as a crypt. Mr. Aronofsky makes this world (or his version of it) exciting partly by pulling back the velvet curtains and showing you the sacrifices and crushingly hard work that goes into creating beautiful dances. Nina doesn’t just pirouette prettily, she also cracks her damaged toes (the sound design picking up every crackle and crunch). She’s a contender, but also a martyr to her art” (On Point). This creates a ballet film that captures both the softness associated to classical dance and the scarier psychological impulses that lie just beneath its serene surface. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post says the following on the plot: “Aronofsky takes all of the classic tropes of ballet films - the lushness and lyricism, the determination and competition - and ruthlessly twists their classical lines, contorting them with gothic horror that only grows more brutal as Nina's interior life becomes more unhinged” (Black Swan). That is what makes Black Swan a great film, the twisting of the classic tropes associated with classical dance and its dancers hook the audience to the film and leaves them both saddened and intrigued to discover more. As intriguing and innovating as the plot of Black Swan is, it would be vacuous without a cast that brings it to life. Both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis subjected themselves to grueling workouts and diets in order to have the appearance of a real ballet dancer and make the film as realistic as possible. Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Nina is incredibly raw and at times too real. With her breathy whisper of a voice and wide-eyed naivety, Portman gives Nina the child-woman look and personality that is expected of someone with her surroundings and cosseted home life. Portman’s acting was critically acclaimed and made her deserving of her first Academy Award for Best Actress, and her first Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role award in the…