Black Swan

Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
Film director: 
Darren Aronofsky
Event date: 
Thu, 14/04/2011

A ballet dancer wins the lead in "Swan Lake" and is perfect for the role of the delicate White Swan - Princess Odette - but slowly loses her mind as she becomes more and more like Odile, the Black Swan.

Articles on this film:

Black Swan: From the sublime to the...

This was a film I was hoping to enjoy – a female protagonist, ballet, wonderful music, madness and melodrama! Unfortunately, I was on the whole disappointed - it is far more conventional and (for want of a better word) ‘patriarchal’ than this. Within postmodern discourse there is much about the ‘return to the body’, subjectivity, intersubjectivity and agency as well as looking at ideas of abjection, subjection and monstrosity. And there are elements of all of these in this film as well as an impressive performance from Portman etc.

The Destruction of Divas

I do not intend to talk a great deal about the film itself – we are not here to be amateur film critics, but to sketch a few points of cultural comparison, in order to put the film in a particular kind of context. My remarks are derived from opera and ballet, two performance genres that share many mythological characteristics. I do so because it seems to me that Black Swan works – insofar as it does work – by weaving together some well-worn narrative themes.

Ballet Fiction

I was a dancer with Ballet Cymru for 13 years. I am now assistant artistic director of the company and am responsible for the training and maintenance of all the professional dancers employed by the company.

How do you make a Black Swan

The Black Swan is a classic narrative of self-destruction and part of a long historical tradition of exploring the boundary between transformation and annihilation. Freudians call this fundamental opposition of life forces Eros (the will to life) and Thanatos (the will to death). The Black Swan is a derivative of a much older story about the struggle of these forces. In fact, it is not the first time the ballet has been used as the setting to dramatise this struggle.