Even watching the film for the first time it's clear that Aronofsky has layered it with fathoms' worth of depth. It explores many questions, and plenty remain unanswered when the closing credits roll. It's a film that encourages its audience to think, and Aronofsky successfully creates an experience that lingers long in the mind.
A particular piece of dialogue that sticks with me is spoken by Thomas (Vincent Cassel), the irascible director of the ballet company. He is explaining the story of Swan Lake when he says that “the white swan leaps off a cliff killing herself and, in death, finds freedom." It comes early, but prepares the audience for Nina’s demise at the devastating conclusion.
She is, of course, the white swan. She spends the film trying to “let go” and allow herself to become the black swan, trying to change from the fragile, fearful, sweet girl she is frequently described as. The story of Swan Lake becomes Nina’s story.
From the outset, she is the victim of a controlling and possessive mother. She has no privacy and no freedom in her own home. Aronofsky has always been fantastic at capturing claustrophobia and he creates an atmosphere that is almost suffocating here. We see just a few rooms of the house, all small and confining.
Who is Nina supposed to turn to? Reluctantly, she chooses Lily (Mila Kunis), the perfect black swan. The two go out, get drunk and take pills. This is the beginning of Nina’s transformation. She rebels against her mother, spends the night with Lily and is late to class the next day. But she is still not free. She becomes paranoid, believing Lily is trying to steal her role.
She never understands that the only person standing in her way is herself.
Instead of letting go physically, she loses control of her mind and plunges in to the never-ending abyss of madness.
She is told countless times that she could be brilliant, that she has it in her to create the most wonderful performance and, in the end, her determination to achieve perfection causes her death. It is a horribly beautiful paradox: she finally lets go, she becomes the black swan, yet it must be at the expense of her own life.
So, in death does she find freedom? Possibly. It is the only way to escape her mother, her OCD, Lily, Thomas, herself. She cannot distinguish between what is real and what is fantasy. Her life becomes impossible to live and it is only when she dies that she finally attains the perfection she has dreamed of.
The reinterpretations of the posters for these classic films are by Mr Shabba. They can be purchased here and we are giving away an exclusive set soon.