01 January, 2011

Black Swan... no one warned me that it was a horror film!

Just a quickie, because I needed to hash out some thoughts...

Black Swan.

Beautiful film.

Bad movie.

I make the distinction that a movie is something that you'd want to have your girlfriends around for; dudes on a sofa with a beer, or a moment of escapism, adventure, entertainment and thrills that you want to relive and explore. It might make you think, laugh, or cry, but it's story and entertainment at its core (for me... this is not a Webster definition).

A film, however, is a piece of art. Every moment is thought of at length, details are never accidental, and camera angles mean something. A film can be a movie, and a movie can be a film, but some are just movies (Center Stage, Speed Racer, Sixteen Candles), and some are just films (Talk to Her, A Clockwork Orange). Black Swan is a brilliant film. Not such a good movie.

I do not want to relive this film. I found my stomach in knots for the full two hours.  I was looking inward at my own demons, breathing with her, moving with her, on the verge of some tragic or wonderful emotion throughout the whole thing... all things that signify a great film.  I do love it when I need a moment to collect myself during the credits before leaving. At this point, it's hard for me to not overanalyse a film and lose myself in a story, so when something does affect me like that, I like it. It means it has done something to allow me to transcend the audience member role that I am filling, and instead, forces me to exist in that film in some capacity.  That's a great film.

Great moments:
The pervasiveness of the Swan imagery and sounds was incredible. The tune on her music box, the tone on her cell phone, the original score took multiple themes from Tchaikovsky's score and reinterpreted it; manipulated and contorted it so it was throughout the entire film, and the repetitiveness of it started to add to the maniacal basketcase-ness of it as well. It was all you heard, it was in your head, driving, pounding, and wearing you down. Image-wise, it was the stuffed toys in her perpetual-child bedroom, the tile behind her head in the bath tub, the gooseflesh (swan flesh) that rippled over her body, and the feathers and costumes-- feathers on her scarf, the white swan dress at the gala, and Lily's black dress there as well contrasting her; also the black top from Lily that she put on when they went out for drinks and psychedelic encounters. It was the black on the white, infiltrating her psyche and therefore her performance.

Plus the camera work. It was often very close-up, and almost always moving. That gives the feeling of being unsettled, and not sure of what's going on, because we can only see what is really close. It was invading my personal space. I kept wanting to take a step backwards to view the scene, but I couldn't which forced me into a bit of the maniacal headspace that Portman occupied. It also kept moving (a hand-held camera) thus making it unstable, dizzying and confusing at times.

And of course the special effects. Lily morphing into Nina and vice versa, which always makes you as a viewer question what is real and what is not. The painting shifted, the shadows moved, and the reflections in the mirrors did not match the human figure in front of them (this has always scared me... I shall avoid mirrors for a week or so).

And her eye makeup. I want to do that eye makeup. At least once in my life.

All in all I enjoyed the final experience because it moved me as good art should. Good cinema, theater, or music is often akin to a religious experience to me; I experience something outside of myself that makes me look inward. This, although it made me think of unsettling and disturbing elements of human nature, it still evoked that reaction from me, which I find impressive in a work of film.

I definitely recommend seeing it, but not if you have any history of mental health issues.  The gorgeous dancing is not enough to overshadow the dark exploration into Nina's psyche!


Kevin Deyna-Jones said...

Look forward to sharing a "movie"(girly night in on the sofa - hell yeah) with you soon.

Enjoy the rest of your time in the US! (",)


Anna said...

Seriously.... A comment about this movie could not be more beautifully put than what you just wrote. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Just today I was telling a friend that has yet to watch the black swan that it was similar to a clockwork orange in the way Of how you feel throughout the movie, but you completely nailed it.