To my companion, my biggest love, my greatest artwork: this BLOG...

all throughout these years I am so happy we have surpassed many an adventure!!!




Tuesday, July 26, 2011

dark as ebony...EDITED

"...Done to death I know, but not like this...we strip it down, make it visceral and real..."

The eerie opening lines of the ballet director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) to his company upon introducing them to their opening season performance. Maybe he wanted them to know the gravity of the task ahead of them: that of re-interpreting an overused storyline in ballet productions all over the world. Or maybe he just wanted to flex his skills at seduction, that of choosing the premier ballerina of the moment, celebrating her muse-hood and wringing her dry until she was devoid of all moisture, flavor and spice like the fate that befell ex-premier ballerina Beth Macintyre(Winona Ryder) in this case....

Although this, in my opinion, is not best-actress-material performance by Natalie Portman she does flex her acting and emotional muscle well here. Transitioning from the soft, feminine, uncertain delicateness of a fragile young lady to the twisted, lunatic contortions of a raving madwoman and then back again several times throughout the film not only displays her versatility but also her method of attacking the role of a deeply disturbed character.

Nina Sayers (Portman) is the ballet dancer in the company chosen by Leroy to play the Swan Queen and the evil twin, the Black Swan for his production SWAN LAKE. It is obvious that right from the very start Nina is on a personal crusade to acquire this role. But after dancing miserably in the audition, she felt she needed to appease Leroy verbally through a personal meeting. He highlights that her calculated and more controlled style of dancing was excellent enough for the Swan Queen role but wasn't for the more provocative and passionate style that befitted the Evil twin. The lead dancer had to embody both roles. Leroy however uses his position of power to take advantage and kiss her and then through some Machiavellian machination credited Nina with the Swan Queen role for the performance.

Thus began a hazy and intense journey for Nina, well mentally at least. The stress of the upcoming performance got to her. The increasing criticism of "HE-who championed her" on her rigid dancing moves. His numerous daring sexual advances as an excuse to release her from the bondage that her potentials were allegedly trapped in and prevented her from performing at her optimal best. The comparisons to Lily (Mila Kunis) a dancer from another company who was lent to them for the Swan Lake production whose more less-perfectionistic but graceful and freer style of dancing was so desired by the director. The drive to be perfect, an unspoken dogma that suddenly haunted her. These all eventually coalesced to wreak havoc on Nina until performance night...

The crescendo of disillusion and detachment blew on full steam. Doppelgangers appearing out of nowhere at unexpected instances, stigmata-esque manifestations characterized by imaginary bruisings, cuts and scratches in her body and fingernails, out-of-body sensual experiences including that of pleasuring herself with her hands, hallucinations of events taking place but with lack of tangible reality when her senses eventually overtook her seemingly intoxicated self ... these were but one of many manifestations of the inner demons that suddenly plagued her from the sheer pressure of trying to achieve perfection.

On the night before the performance all demons broke loose when she partied and let loose with her rival-turned-ally Lily. Ecstasy for starters, and flirting with two boys, dancing the night away in a noisy club as sides, the whole menu of a night seemingly turned into a disaster for Nina until they got to the main with Lily in her bedroom despite her mother's pleadings at the door. This part was probably one of the most interesting in the movie naturally but also because both women played the role very well. There was total submission to the sensual act, Nina allowing herself to be pleasured orally by Lily's willing lips, mouth, tongue etcetera...all part of Nina's distorted sensory perceptions...

Performance night and the first act is going well until one of her doppelgangers distracted her and the Swan Prince drops her in the dance lift that would end the first act. Furious, Nina storms into her dressing room only to find Lily already donning the Black Swan costume in an effort to replace her in the second act. Nina loses it completely and stabs Lily to her death and hides her behind closed doors. She suddenly finds herself morphing into the Black Swan, the passionate second skin that had eluded her throughout her struggles through rehearsal and frigidity. She dances flawlessly on stage as the Black Swan, in an almost unearthly perfection. The applause is thunderous....

The third act finally unveils to her and to the viewers that the persona she wounded and had thought dead in the dressing room was herself. She needed to endure the pain to master her dark side and unleash the passion she had not known existed inside her. Dressed and dancing as the Swan Queen again in the third act she bleeds from the wound she had instilled on herself - finally giving way to a semblance of clarity in the end and an arcane happiness at having achieved a performance of freedom after intense personal suffering...

This could have been an otherwise disturbing film for many except that I love these sort of macabre films with imaginary and sometimes demonic representations of personal experiences of people. I've no idea whether a film has been done about a ballerina's emotional and mental struggles before massive performances but this certainly was very watchable for me and could possibly inspire my next photoshoot. Maybe scratch out the lesbian theme three quarters right into the movie...or maybe not!!! :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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