Article |  'Black Swan': Aronofsky's dance between madness and the quest for perfection

Darren Aronofksy is one of the most controversial directors today – and has already been responsible for giving life to several titles that would be marked in the history of cinema. Despite its official debut, ‘Pi’did not receive the recognition it deserved at the time of release, Aronofsky would shock the public with the controversial ‘Requiem for the Dream’ and subsequent productions that would immortalize his unique imagery and enviable storytelling skill. But it wasn’t until 2010 that the filmmaker would consecrate his best title, at least for now: the ambitious and chilling psychological thriller ‘Black Swan’.

Based on the ballet Pyotr Ilyrich Tchaikovskythe feature film starring none other than Natalie Portman follows a young dancer named Nina who is part of a respected and very strict dance company. She soon prepares to audition for Swan Lake, doing everything she can to land the lead role of Princess Odette (who is turned into a white swan by a terrifying sorcerer), whether it’s a raw ambition that hides behind the sweet side. , either by pressure from her mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), a frustrated ballerina who never got the spotlight in any performance she participated in. Despite her best attempts, Nina suffers from an evil: her performance as Odette is passionate and impeccable, but she doesn’t seem to carry the sensuality and obscurities necessary to embody Odile, the exact opposite of the main character (the Black Swan).

It is almost impossible to discuss the gigantic thematic multiplicity that takes shape in the feature film – since it brings together elements of cinema with those of psychology and literature in an astonishing metamorphosis of what it means to plunge into madness. The focal point (Nina’s transition from a young dreamer to a formidable force that will do anything to win) is a personal analysis of the human condition, which had already been analyzed by Aronofsky ten years earlier and would gain epic reassertion in the underrated ‘Noah’ and ‘mother!’, released shortly afterwards. More than that, the filmmaker’s passion for the individual’s conflict with the imminent threat of a double that doesn’t materialize and that somehow brings out our deepest fears is remarkable.

The art of ballet poses as a double-edged sword: a breathtaking spectacle for those who see it and an exhausting process of striving for perfection for those who perform it. Nina is exiled in the need to prove to herself that she can do it – and more than that, that she is not just a woman controlled by her mother and the director of the company in which she dances. But the problem is that Nina doesn’t trust herself and lets the inexplicable possibility of losing the role of Odette throw her into an insane spiral of uncertainty and disbelief. Well, veteran Beth (Winona Ryder) even confronts her after losing the role to Portman’s character: “he always said you were a frigid little girl”, she comments, referring to the company’s director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel).

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Even after Thomas believed she would do a brilliant job, Nina continues to run into trouble – and things get worse with the arrival of the exuberant, carefree Lily (Mila Kunis at the height of her career), who was cast by Thomas as his replacement (a classic move of major theatrical performances that serves to allow the show to continue in the event of any fatalities). But Nina, absorbed in a persecution syndrome that drains her innocence and transforms her into a reincarnation of the black swan, firmly believes that Lily wants to steal her prominent place in the company and will do anything to prevent her from delivering her best.

The idea of ​​the double (or doppelgänger, in the original German) is a concept explored in world culture for centuries and dates back to medieval times, posing as omen, bad luck or even the existence of an “evil twin” that represents our worst feelings. features. Not thinking too far into the entertainment industry, Jordan Peele explored ad nauseam this sign with the praised terror ‘We’starring Lupita Nyong’o. But here, the double takes on a different format – more precisely in the duality seen between Lily and Nina, as already mentioned: while the latter is seen as a woman without full control of everything she has to offer, the former demonstrates a frightening disinhibition and which makes her a threat to a protagonist who, in the end, has nothing to fear.

It’s no surprise, then, that each gear meticulously engineered by Aronofsky culminates in a shocking series of twists that take the audience’s breath away. Nina, steeped in Odette’s naivety, is forced to face Lily, painted in Odile’s relentless form; in a fit of rage and frustration (something that had been premeditated since the opening minutes of the film), she uses a piece of glass to get rid of her nemesis, finally absorbing the Black Swan and transforming herself into the complementary part of your personality in an impeccable and applause-worthy presentation. The problem is that, in fact, Nina faced herself, moved by the immanent and almost ethereal madness of excessive success and materializing the clash between reality and fiction in a mighty vortex of victory and defeat.

Finally, on the verge of ridding herself of all guilt and fears (but not without the bittersweet feeling of ambivalence), Nina says goodbye to herself as she utters the last words: “I was perfect”.

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