Black Swan – My Review
When you walk away from seeing Black Swan you don’t leave empty handed. Darren Aronofsky makes sure your soul has been stuffed full..as if you have dined on a Black Swan for your Thanksgiving meal.
Disturbingly beautiful and weirdly compelling, Black Swan brings to light the classics…through stereotyped personalities. The prima ballerina on the rise, the prima ballerina during the fall, the control freak, the unprofessional yet brilliant director, the overbearing mother, the leading male dancer, the underhanded and competitive colleague, the understudy, the cultural institution, and the heard of sheep in winter white tutus dutifully going unnoticed while they follow the heard.
Black Swan is about the rise and the fall of the prima ballerina. What would normally be a slow progression downward becomes a fast paced spiraling down and winding down from a controlled toe spin gone awry.
My favorite line in the movie is the one when the director tells the Prima Ballerina playing the White Swan to essentially “get out of her own way.” Be it ballet or any other form of art, I think it’s the most important line in the film. And, a line that has been said to me on occasion.
What does that mean…really…to “get out of your own way.” As explained in the movie, the White Swan needs to essentially “let go” figuratively and literally. In order for the perfect ballerina to get down and dirty enough to play the Black Swan, she’s going to have to dig deep. In the art world, it’s easy to spot a fake and in order for the transformation from the White Swan to the Black Swan to be authentic, a literal discoloring was going to have to take place and the director, with much at stake, takes a subtle and supple hand in leading the White Swan down her path of transformation.
But, at what price transformation? At what price authentication?
The thing about “getting out of your own way” is how comfortable you are in doing so. It’s easy to pursue an artists dream and never really get uncomfortable. Balancing your act on the edge of excellence, yet never really going over the edge.. to the other side.the dark side… it’s something transformative when you bear your soul and show the world everything that you are. Those who witness your unveiling really want to see all that you are…..they want to see you undress your self….they want you to be naked.
Getting naked is not for the faint of heart. And, excellence could be so rare because of our own inability to tap into the inner switch that allows us to fully shine. The White Swans journey of transformation is one of those rare creative moments that transforms the artist and the audience at the same time. A singular moment of expression captured in space and time.
As I think about my own music and my own career, I ask myself if I have ever truly let go…have I truly ever gotten out of my own way and let my music illuminate as if I was the center of the earth and my music was an erupting volcano. There have been moments I have felt connected. There have been times I have felt chills in the letting go and sometimes even in the imagining of my ultimate performance. But I can’t say it’s been the bulk of my time performing. It’s been the rare chance encounter with my own talent. I know where to find it…I just don’t actually go there very often. I have to be in the right frame of mind to transform or, according to Black Swan, the “wrong” frame of mind.
I don’t think you have to lose your mind to lose yourself. But, I do agree that you have got to dig deep when you perform and have the courage to give your entire self to your audience.
I personally think Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Nina Sayers was astonishing. I think she deserves the recognition which has come her way. Like in all artists’ careers, there are defining moments. And, the Black Swan is Natalie Portman’s moment in a blistering sun and I am breathless watching her die for her art.
Black Swan gave me third degree burns.