Com. Arts 250
October 29 2013
Form and Style of Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky's 2010 drama, Black Swan, is a psychosexual thriller that beautifully exemplifies the wild and imaginative artistic direction usually present in his films. Black Swan follows the story of Nina (Natalie Portman), a professional ballerina struggling with portraying both the White Swan and the Black Swan in her dance company's modern twist on Tchaikovsky's ballet, Swan Lake. This battle of character slowly spins Nina into a psychological torment that often breaches her physical life. Or does it? Aronofsky masterfully portrays ideas of perfection, obsession and lust through stark visual, color oriented contrasts of the two sides of the swan that Nina desperately attempts to capture. Utilizing the style of shock value and concepts like psychological doppelgangers, the cinematographic style of Black Swan enhances the impossibility of simultaneous perfection and seduction, forcing the audience to question what is reality and what is psychosis.
To understand the profound depth to which Black Swan connects its own meaning with how it is portrayed stylistically, it is essential to separate the story from the art. On the level of what David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson call, "referential meaning", Black Swan depicts a ballerina undergoing such intense stress to mold herself into two extremely contrasting roles that she loses touch with reality, experiencing frightening hallucinations that ultimately result in her death at the end of the movie. However, Black Swan expresses this plot so symbolically that this loss of distinction between actuality, fantasy, and delirium is not only apparent within Nina, but within us, the viewer. In a sense, the referential meaning and the symptomatic meaning of Black Swan seem to warp into each other.
To explain this, we can start with how this film uses color...