What Really Happened to Natalie Portman’s Character in Black Swan?
Meaning Of The Film Black Swan (2010), Explanation Of The Ending, Analysis Of The Plot.
Genre: thriller, drama
Year of production: 2010
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
The frightening and ominous film “The Black Swan” tells about the wrong side of the big ballet, about the difficult life of the ministers of art. The picture of Darren Aronofsky is often called provocative and controversial in terms of psychologism. Around the meaning of the film “Black Swan” (Black swan) is a lot of discussion. The truth is, once you put this movie in your head, it will never leave. And everyone will find the interpretation that suits him.
What is the movie about
If we consider the content of the picture very briefly, then it tells the story of a young ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman). Once she got the lead role in the production of Swan Lake, a recognized stage masterpiece. The burden of responsibility that has fallen, as well as problems with her mother, physical exhaustion, and a conflict with another ballerina psychologically break the heroine. As a result, feeling that she cannot cope with the force that controls her life, she loses touch with reality.
Natalie Portman plays the lead role. Frame from the film.
Nina is 28 years old. She has years of personal life, hobbies, friends. She only has her mother and ballet. In fact, she is still a child who does not want to grow up. In all reviews and analyzes, it is noted that even Nina’s room looks like a little girl’s room – except that the pink pony is not enough.
Aronofsky chose pink as a symbol of childhood. Mom helps Nina change clothes, feeds her and puts her to bed. She is a former ballerina herself, whose career ended after Nina’s birth. Of course, she blames her daughter for her failures and completely subordinates her to herself.
Part of the content of the painting “The Black Swan” is dedicated to the emancipation of the main character as a person. Having felt her sexuality for the first time, she shows her character and acts contrary to her mother: the production in which she participates requires experience that she does not have. So she has to leave her comfort zone.
Nina everywhere, as if in a black mirror, sees her sinister twins. At the same time, a certain Lily, also a dancer, appears in the life of the main character. Now she is a ballerina from the second composition. By the way, the name Lily is very consonant with the name Lilith: according to the apocrypha, that was the name of Adam’s first wife, who became a demon. In turn, this name means “Night”, and night is the dark side.
The role of Lily was played by Mila Kunis. Frame from the film.
There is a mise-en-scene in the film in which Lily persuades Nina to run away to the club at night. Two women – Lily and the mother of the main character Eric – pull the girl to their side, like light and darkness.
Nina wants to start an adult life, and at the same time she is afraid of it (the mother symbolizes stability and calmness, and the new acquaintance – alluring, frightening adult life). So the heroine comes into conflict with new impressions. Lily wins in the end…
In the future, working on the role, Nina brings herself to insanity. Against this background, her life turns into a complete Kafkaesque nightmare.
Closer to the final, the girl begins to turn into a bird in front of the audience. But Aronofsky’s film is not a mystical thriller, and all the scenes here are metaphorical. Art always has two sides – light and dark, creative and destructive, genius and villain. Real art is born precisely at the junction of these concepts. Nina had to reconcile all parties – this was supposed to help her achieve perfection.
In fact, the story of Nina is really shown as a Kafka novel: there is both surrealism and sticky horror. On the one hand, it seems that the film “Black Swan” is about a mental disorder. But Aronofsky would not be Aronofsky if he did not allegorically tell a story about art, about perfection, about talent and ideals.
Fathers and Sons
Nina has a very difficult, painful relationship with her mother, Erica. The mother clearly wants to displace her own desires from her daughter and make her her own project. Thus, Erica tried to realize herself.
Mother constantly tells Nina about her alleged sacrifice for her sake, this is the most common manipulation. At the same time, Erica is probably jealous of her daughter at the same time, torn between her desire to see her success and not to see him. In any case, there is definitely no question of sincere love and desire to see an independent personality in the daughter.
The absence of a clearly expressed own “I” became the explanation for why Nina went crazy: she initially did not quite understand who she was.
Vincent Cassel as Tom Leroy. Frame from the film.
Oh wonderful adult world
The film “Black Swan” has several interpretations. According to one of them, the main idea of the picture is what problems a person faces during emotional maturation.
Nina grew up unnaturally due to the wrong upbringing of her domineering mother, who treated her like a cute doll, like the one that dances on the music box.
The tragedy might not have happened if the heroine had not been so badly injured. But in the end, the repressed dark side of Nina manifests itself in a frightening and destructive form. And in the finale, turning back into the White Swan, she suffers and dies.
The perfection she believes she is achieving is actually the ultimate loss of her own self, not its gain, for she has not only grown up, but gone mad.
For the time being, Nina does not give free rein to her dark side. The girl plays Odette easily: she is innocent. But Nina plays Odile badly, because she does not have the necessary freedom, emancipation, courage.
When Nina tells the production director that she wants to be perfect, he replies that perfection is the ability not only to control, but also to let go, to relax. Sex symbolizes the transition to adulthood. Nina needs to feel her own sexuality in order to play the dark side of Odette. Thus, a new explanation of the name Lily arises: this image refers us to Odile.
Mila Kunis’ character is the dark side of Nina. She probably would like to look the same, dress and act with men, but she is desperately afraid of growing up.
Frame from the film.
According to Freud
The meaning of the film “Black Swan”, from the point of view of psychoanalysis, is that two instincts (self-control and sex), having entered the struggle, destroyed the psyche of the main character. First Nina tried to suppress one side of her personality, and then the other.
All she needed was to “make friends” black and white in her own soul. She couldn’t do it. This is what killed her in the end.
According to Nietzsche
The meaning of the painting “The Black Swan”, in accordance with Nietzsche’s work “The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music”, lies in the tragic struggle of two principles – Apollonian (optimistic, light, harmonious) and Dionysian (chaotic and dark).
In theory, both principles are inextricably linked with each other – moreover, their confrontation in the soul of a person related to music is quite normal. But in the case of Nina, “something went wrong”, which we saw towards the end of the picture.
Legend of Icarus
In ancient Greek myth, Icarus, who gained wings, did not listen to his father, and flew very high. The sun melted the wax, it fell and broke.
In The Black Swan, Erika tries her best to protect Nina from the outside world. Most likely, the mother knows how shaky her daughter’s psyche is, and therefore she tries to do everything so that her life is streamlined.
The meaning of this theory lies in the fact that in the final Nina, who subconsciously sought to get rid of maternal overprotection, managed to gain wings. Unfortunately, nothing good came of her pursuit of perfection.
Frame from the film.
From a medical point of view, the film “Black Swan” is quite controversial: according to some viewers who are looking for a hidden meaning in this gloomy picture, we are talking about the fact that the heroine developed schizophrenia.
However, Nina’s condition is more like psychosis, which is combined with other “sores”: bulimia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder and – the apotheosis of everything – auto-aggression. Terrible hallucinations of the main character are most similar to bouts of sleep paralysis. In the context of the film “Black Swan” they seem to illustrate the process of destruction of her personality.
The meaning of the ending
This picture, already gloomy and hopeless, has a terrible ending. The final premiere turns into psychological torture for the main character: all her emotions and experiences go into the stage of catharsis. The culmination is the fight between Nina and Lily, in which the heroine defeats her rival and kills her with a shard of a mirror. After that, her transformation into the Black Swan is completed.
The meaning of the Black Swan ending is that Nina kept her Odile in prison for so long that she broke free, broke her psyche and erased the boundaries of reality.
Nina is a typical “excellent student” (not in studies, but in life), and the problems of almost all excellent students are that they remain restless in their extremes – “good” and “bad” girls. They play them, but do not become themselves. The world remains behind a glass wall for them, through which they observe the life of living people with misunderstanding and envy.
Probably, the most correct explanation of the ending should still be sought in the history of the relationship between mother and daughter. The main character’s mother’s name is Erica, which means “ruler”. This is the darkest character in the whole story. In fact, Erica voluntarily broke her career by giving birth to a daughter. Then she ruined her daughter’s life, depriving her of immunity to the dark side of life, and forcing her obsession on her. If we return to the mythology of the Swan Lake, then Erica is the same Sorcerer.
Frame from the film.
Mother convinced Nina that her meaning in life was to achieve excellence in ballet. As a result, the good girl Nina went crazy, and committed suicide only for the sake of her mother’s favorable look.
In fact, The Black Swan is not a film about ballet at all, but about the narcissistic personality disorder of the main character Nina. Her real self, overwhelmed by her mother, struggled with a false self created only to please the ever-depressing Erika.