Road to Perfection: Black Swan

When I watch Black Swan, it reminds me of Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher.   Both films are disturbing and making me uncomfortable.  They show the audience how a twisted personality is formed and intensified over time, and eventually it dominates and even takes over the heroine’s life.  Setting the story on the premise that a ballerina wants to play two roles at the same time, Black Swan poses a question whether one can successfully play good and evil characters at once.  It shows us the price of perfection is high, and Nina has paid an extremely high price for playing the black swan. Is it worth costing one’s life for this part?  When one is dominated by his/her obsession, he/she may not be able to tell that life is more valuable than a part.   It is hard to tell from the last scene if Nina has any regrets, but the temptation of perfection is always there, awaiting all of us.  It seems to provide some nice, promising, and prospering future, but without balance the desire can snare and strangle us.  We really need to be cautious enough not to fall prey to it.

I am curious how Natalie Portman dissociates herself from Nina after she finishes shooting.  When she memorizes the lines, puts on makeups and costumes to become Nina, how does she feel while playing in front of the camera? Does Nina entirely go away after she finishes shooting?  How does she keep the distance between her real self and her character?  I guess all these belong to the professionalism of actor/actress and I am glad to see Natalie Portman has this opportunity to reflect on being an artist through this extreme role.

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