You look at her bedroom and it looks like a little girl’s room, not that of a 28-year old women. We know this stunted development is partly due to Aronofsky’s critique of ballet as a whole. But it’s also there because the story is about Nina’s loss of innocence and her struggle to tap into that darker side of herself. By defining her as childlike, it highlights her innocence and why she struggles with the role. This was a long way to set up the point that Black Swan isn’t just a cool movie where a girl goes crazy and just happens to be a ballerina. It’s Aronofsky exploring and presenting the pressures ballerinas face in an industry that demands very much of them.
Nina hallucinates feathers coming out of her rash, imagines her legs breaking at the knees (to look like swan legs), and eventually falls down knocking herself unconscious. Nina wakes up with her mother on the side comforting her saying that she was scratching all night. Her mother tells her that he’s called the theatre to inform them that Nina is sick and that she can’t make it. Nina becomes furious and crushes her mother hands to get to the doorknob and leaves. “Rise of the Black Swan” quickly establishes that Tom has certain psychopathic traits that make him somewhat emotionally unavailable at times.
Though Nina inhabits the same space as these characters, they may not have her best interests at heart. Nina, a young and upcoming ballerina, is chosen to play the dual role of the White and Black Swans in a new production of Swan Lake. She becomes obsessed with her portrayal of the Black Swan, losing herself in the process. As she rehearses for the big night, Nina’s rival Lily starts to edge her out of the spotlight.
Nina is never allowed to be more than just her mommy’s sweet girl. She is an adult, but still lives with her mother and has a room full of stuffed toys. The aesthetic the black swan movie explained of her room gives off the impression of a teenage girl and even her voice has a childish texture to it (which, if you notice, changes in the final scene).
In actuality, The Nine needed a lot of help to get to Bag End, and their repeated questioning of Hobbits in the greater Shire area during the movie only hints at this. One of the more thrilling parts of The Fellowship of the Ring is the pursuit of the Hobbits by the Ringwraiths, but finding the Shire took some time. Thankfully, Tom manages to squeeze out a few tears to show that he’s devastated by Sophie’s rejection — meaning he is emotionally available after all, yay!
For a short moment we can see how Lily’s face is a blend of hers and Nina’s. When I first saw Darren Aronofsky’s film Black Swan, Natalie Portman’s acting shined, and the movie was terrific. But the nuances missed me entirely because I had no clue about the Swan Lake Ballet (which they are rehearsing for in the film). Fortunately, during my trip to Russia for the Football World Cup, I lucked out on the last few tickets for the Swan Lake Ballet in St. Petersburg. As my mind was getting blown by the phenomenal performances at the ballet, many of the film’s nuances also dawned upon me.
This shows that Erica has never been able to work through her own inadequacies and finds comfort in the fact that Nina is good because of her. Her daughter is the materialisation of the perfection that Erica had hoped to be in her own career, which is why she doesn’t want anything to distract her from this vision. She doesn’t want Nina to go astray and keeps her on a tight leash. While this does work, to some extent, it also sows the seed of absolute perfection in Nina.
When receiving physiotherapy during Black Swan, it’s stomach turning to watch the therapist put almost her entire hand under Nina’s rib cage to massage her spasming diaphragm. Ballet is beautiful, yes, but the price of that beauty is extreme, and painfully paved with horror movie-worthy bricks. Black Swan does not shy away from showing these beautiful and grotesque forces, nor how they come together to form ballet as a whole. It’s a transcendent art, but it’s also a punishing physical journey. In her dressing room, Nina fights with Lily, who taunts her about embodying the Black Swan better than she ever could. Nina throws Lily into the mirror and stabs her in the gut with a shard of glass.
It’s part of her growing sexuality, while also being part of the fear and fragility she needs as the White Swan. In the climax, when Nina finally gets to dance, we see her oscillate between two emotional states. The first is someone completely frayed and overwhelmed and either on the brink of tears or crying.
It appears that she may have been bullied along these lines in her growing years. Nina’s mother puts her to sleep each night, and her room is filled with dolls. Nina is a dedicated dancer who is looking to achieve perfection. The film begins with her dreaming about her playing the scene where Odette is cursed by Rothbart to becoming a swan.
However, in the beginning of the movie, Nina’s virginity is seen as a hurdle rather than an asset. The director insists that it holds back her creatively, an observation that sounds very suspicious and reeks of harassment. But her sheltered life does hold her back socially, as demonstrated by her awkwardness and meekness.
The director also considered Black Swan a companion piece to his film The Wrestler (2008), with both films revolving around demanding performances for different kinds of art. He and Portman first discussed the project in 2000, and after a brief attachment to Universal Pictures, Black Swan was produced in New York City in 2009 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Portman and Kunis trained in ballet for several months prior to filming. Nina is highly distracted and as a result, gets dropped by her partner. Back in the changing room, Nina’s insecurities cause her to imagine Lily sitting and preparing for the Black Swan. Imaginary-Lily suggests that she should do the Black Swan as Nina will not be able to.
In this respect, she is like her mother, finding someone else to blame for her own flaws. As her only daughter, Nina is Erica’s do-over in the ballet world, and that pressure is a huge contributing factor in Nina’s eventual breakdown. Can you imagine your mom’s bedroom being filled wall to wall with terrible portraits of you? Nina is a grown woman, yet her mother insists on undressing her when she comes home from work. Not allowing Nina any privacy, even a simple lock on her door, is also troubling. Erica’s unhealthy obsession with her daughter is as distressing as Nina’s own psychological break — maybe even worse, as we don’t know what’s at the root of Erica’s own mental illness.
The mother wishes her child to never develop while Nina strains to become an adult. Their conflict is brutally resolved with violence as the inherent rebellion of a child versus their parent explodes in a short time. Another point of contention exists between the childlike Nina and her aged mother. Nina is very much a girl to a disturbing degree.
The pair have devoted their lives to ballet to the exclusion of everything else. Shaurya Thapa is an Indian freelance journalist who mostly dabbles in writings on cinema, music, and human interest features. When it comes to Screen Rant, he writes detailed fact vs fiction features, ending explainers and cast guides. Comics, anime, film history, Indian cinema and the horror genre are some of his several areas of expertise.
She returns to her dressing room and finds Lily preparing as Odile. During a confrontation, Lily transforms into Nina. Nina stabs her doppelgänger with a large shard of glass from the mirror, killing her.