December 7, 2010

i would offer a quote from the film but they're basically all screaming and creepy music

I can get scared by the supernatural, paranormal, and murderers, but what terrifies me most is the human mind. How far into dangerous territory can you let your thoughts wander? When certainty of your own reality is lost, what do you have left? I desperately hoped for something in the case of perfect-but-not-perfect-enough Nina Sayers of Black Swan.

A twenty-something prima ballerina, Nina wakes up every morning in a pink room filled with stuffed animals, practices at a prestigious ballet company during the day, and comes home to her mom, who gets Nina in her pajamas, tucks her into bed, and places on her nightstand a tune-churning jewelry box complete with a spinning ballerina. There's too much going on to simply label her a stage mother, but there's no doubt she's passed perfectionism down to her daughter, of whom she has painted portraits hanging in her room, not totally unlike Crazy Joe Davola's Elaine wall. (Alright, they're different things, but Seinfeld is my default after thrillers.)
Nina gets the part in her company's Swan Lake of the Swan Queen, a girl who becomes a white swan by a sorcerer's curse and then a black one by a demon's seduction. The prince chooses another girl and the ballet ends with the swan killing herself. Her director, Thomas, is a manipulative genius asshole whom Nina believes to be brilliant, and his less than stellar pep talks -- which include phrases like, "Would you f--- her? No one would," -- are sure to inspire catchy phrases in the makers of those little star-shaped stickers that elementary teachers use to grade homework.

Along with motivational speaking, his technique involves sexual manipulation, and he bases Nina's self-exploration on that. She has the pure and innocent white swan down, but her black one is too obedient. To achieve perfection within the role, she must bring out what she considers one of many imperfections of her own -- passion. Thomas tells her to lose herself.
Nina does just that. Due to her tendency to step outside and view herself through the eyes of those she must please, her reflection starts making recurring appearances, oftentimes in the new dancer and Swan Queen understudy, Lily. Lily embodies all that is dangerous to Nina -- she eats, she takes drugs, she has a sex and social life, she screws up a turn and allows herself to move on. Though Nina is convinced her dark side is her minor flirtatiousness with all of these threats, her real black swan lies more in her obsessive discipline to repress feelings related to any of the above. After all, it's from a self-inflicted wound that black feathers begin to sprout along her back.

Now, the fun and less scary part that was comforting when I was the only one still awake last night and was scared to walk past a mirror, Rodarte did the ballet costumes! The only screencaps online are from the trailer so it's hard to find good photos of the black swan costume, which, in an overly analytical way, is so perfect.

The crown!

Left is the ballet's white swan, the more vulnerable one on the right is from a dream sequence where she imagines herself as the part before she gets it.

Photo by Autumn de Wilde, with sister Laura on the left. And sister Kate's (I like referring to them that way because then they sound like nuns who love Japanese horror movies) sketches:

Enlarge to enjoy in all their glory.
The black swan was wisely made darker in ways less obvious than color, one being that feathers grew out from under one side like mutation while the white swan's feathers delicately shaped the symmetrical bodice. The black swan also wears a veil, but it's hard to get into that without spoiling part of the end. It is entirely possible I'm reading too much into this, too, but details are so important with Rodarte!

The sisters have mastered the act of combining fantasy with a harsher and disturbingly familiar reality, and were perfect to help Nina blur the lines between herself and her role. Along with suiting Swan Lake so well and helping to parallel the story of the swan with Nina's own breakdown, the costumes also accentuate her darkness once she indulges most fully. She experiences the consequences of this indulgence while back in the white costume, giving us a contrast that defines her idea of perfect. What's terrifying is that by that point we're so wrapped up in her head that it actually makes sense.

Photos: release, natalieportman.com, the Black Swan website, Cinema Blend, fearless_123 on livejournal, and Black Frame PR.

103 comments:

FASHION SNAG said...

I want to see this movie so bad, but it isn't out here until Friday. x

www.FashionSnag.com

wallflower said...

I can't wait to wear one of those..
Those pretty ballet ones.

Thinker said...

im sorry, but are pointe shoes not just fabulous? it makes me sick :)

Lovers, Saints & Sailors said...

I hadn't heard of this film before this. I'm at once intrigued and terrified.

Anna said...

this is a very extreme film, i just want people to know that.
as a dancer, yes, it takes a lot of determination and work but i just want to put out there that not every ballerina is crazy. or goes crazy.
sure, some studios have more pressure or competition than others, but ballet, classical ballet, any other form is meant for self improvement and expression. much more so than competition.
and pointe shoes are a lot of fun, once you find the right ones.

Care said...

now i want to watch this movie all the more

Gastón said...

long live ballet

Tavi said...

Anna-This movie was about a very extreme case, I don't think it implies that every dancer or even any dancers get as extreme as Nina. The director tends to make films based on a character blurring the lines between their hobby and selves -- in the past, wrestling and math, and this time, ballet. But it has more to do with the specific character than the hobby itself.

zoomslow said...

I <3 ballet, so this movie will be a must see 4 me! If it's anywhere near as good as "The Red Shoes" then I'll be really happy. Thanks for your great run-down of the fim, with awesome accompanying pictures!

And an xtra special thanks for your excellent analysis of the costumes! Your thorough understanding of Rodarte has increased my desire to see these amazing-looking costumes!

P.S Aren't these computer-thinga-me-jigs great! They allow me to give the illusion that I had no problem putting together that last paragraph. But I can assure you that the ol' delete button got a good work-out there! :-)

thwany said...

i'm dying to watch this

boyunSO said...

wow im really looking forward to watch that!!
love it!!

isis said...

i'm so happy you did a post about this. i'm not happy that i have to drive two hours so i can see it. but i probably will.

Olivia♥ said...

I desperately want to see this movie it looks so intriguing, and I completely agree with you, it is not monsters, or horror that is frightening it is the human mind that is truly creepy!!


http://www.fashionanatomie.blogspot.com

Abraham said...

you should at least go an make a spoiler alert at the beginning of your post. uncool.

Sarah Margeurite said...

@Abraham, there is nothing in this post that isn't in the trailer. Nothing even close to a spoiler. No worries.

Emma Winn said...

costumes look fantastic can't wait to see it

Al said...

I've been a dancer for 10 years + Swan lake is one of my favorite ballets + Natalie Portman is my favorite actress (together with Kate Winslet + I love this kind of dark-introspective movies + RODARTEEEEE

I guess I can't miss this one...

Thanks for the review, the pics and, oooh my, the sketches!!

Al

http://inthereddot.blogspot.com

Vicky said...

These are such lovely photos x

R. said...

the draws are amazing! I really want to see the movie!!

http://godsavethefashionblog.blogspot.com/

Zabrinah said...

My friends all love this film, already. I am super excited to learn more about/see it.

:)

Best wishes,

~Zabrinah

Fazion Junkirz said...

It seems like a nice movie. I will be watching it... It is fierce shall I say.

xxxmwaah Kirsty

Alexandra said...

such a good freakn movie! i was convinced the guy behind me had those crazy eyes as i sat down, it scared me to the point i had to change seats! looking at him again he was the sweatest looking guy with two perfectly normal eyes and i felt like the crazy one.

Alexandra said...

blah, i dont know why google leaves that account. http://monki.webblogg.se is what it should say.

Katie said...

i just started taking adult ballet classes a few months ago. i'm totally going to be thinking about this movie now. good thing i've only got two more classes left...i don't want to be seeing crazy swans queen's in the mirrors.

annierama said...

oh wow! the last two sketches are impressing !
the way you are blogging is really amazing! I can´t stop reading on and on and on and on.... ;)

uanset said...

i'd love to see the movie
costumes look amazing

Rafael Franco said...

Oh my GAGA!!!!! I want to see this movie soooo fucking bad!!!!


I LOVE Natalie Portman since I watched Closer. She is beautiful and talented. And I love psychological horror.



kisses from Brazil*

http://neopopculture.blogspot.com/

Caroline :) said...

Tavi this post was beyond amazing
(rodarte designed the costumes zing!!!)

www.redrosemanhattan.blogspot.com

cancercowboy said...

damn, theatrical release is January 20th over here. i like Aronofsky's work, though ever since The Fountain the cinematography and the love for pretty pictures seem to gain the upper hand in his movies. but i read that Ms Portman's performance makes more than up to it in this one.
thanks for this interesting review and for not spoiling the end ^___^
and the human mind is indeed the darkest abyss. its where all our scary deeds and stories originate, after all.

Emilie said...

My sister and I have been dying to see this movie! And I can't believe they designed the costumes I have been bothering my sister incessantly about them/demanding her to appreciate how amazing they are I had no idea there were Rodarte!

Yajaira said...

sounds like an interesting film..

Casie Jean said...

this just makes me want to see the film even more.
x.x.x Casie Jean

Pandora said...

Wow, I can't wait to see this one! I dance ballet, but not very seriously anymore. Pointe shoes are lots of fun though :) Too bad they're releasing this here (in Finland) in 25th of February... So typical.

alexandra w. said...

It's so cute! beautiful photos ;)

http://stylemeerkat.blogspot.com/

Floz said...

I read the article on this in Lula Issue 11. Kate Mulleavy's drawings are wonderful and so intricate too.

Mira said...

I read about the black swan before and now I´m definitely going to see it! :D

Helena said...

Tavi,

I've been following you for about 2 years now but your posts never cease to amaze me. Each post is insightful, creative, quirky, smart but still has your endearing young charm.

Age aside, you are extremely eloquent and I know your writing will only improve. I really look forward to continuing to watch you grow!

Cheers

krista said...

wow, this makes me want to see the movie and fast.

fashionslap.net said...

Isn't the film rated R? Anyway, it looks good. I guess being in LA I could have seen it, but still need to. I don't know I may wait for it to come out on DVD I just hate paying 15 dollars for a movie out here.

Kate Taylor Battle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flaunt It said...

Hey!
Love the post!Ballet is amazing and the costumes would really make the movie! Can't wait to see it!
http://flauntitmagazine.blogspot.com/

Kate Taylor Battle said...

Great review! So nice to see these pictures all in one place and relive the beauty of this film. What a fantastic movie!

Anaivilo said...

Now I really want to see the movie! Rodarte did those costumes? Amazing! I want them now :D

Nico said...

what a beautiful review of the movie! very reflective and succinct. i loved it, and was completely mesmerized the entire time.

and oh wow, the sketches are amazing to see!

xx

Alexandra said...

I love ballet ,I;ve always dreamed of being a ballerina, but I never had the chance. I absolutely love the costumes.

alexutis@
shoependant.blogspot.com

Mina Jade said...

I'm not fond of Natalie Portman. She thinks a tad too much of herself, claiming she is unwilling to strip in her movies. (Britney Spears the Second, who was known for her world-famous fake virginity.) As though female nudity was a sin. We should consider it natural, everybody was born that way. I prefer Pamela Anderson - she was always honest with her nudity and fake breasts, and she is an animal protector at that.

poppy :) said...

sounds dark and intensley creepy.which makes me curious to see it.I just want to say those costume illustations are fabulous

Andrea said...

I don't like thrillers or anything scary but I thing I'll go to see it just because of the costumes:) Thanks for sharing the illustrations, they are so beautiful.

m.corbett said...

those sketches of the outfit are perfectt! i am loving the proportions of the bodies. so gothic <3
this film looks AMAZINGG i want to see it soo bad x xx

Natassia Lea said...

You should read some books by allan Kardec.

ifipoopedgoldbars.com said...

That was a brilliant write-up Tavi; just as brilliant as the costumes and movie!

xx

www.ifipoopedgoldbars.com

I'm Robin... said...

Wow- thanks so much for this amazing description and details of the costuming. Now, I HAVE to see it!
xoxo
Robin
www.darkponydesigns.etsy.com

Jenna said...

I am definitely too scared to see this movie.
Your write-up will suffice for me :)

Fátima said...

Your blog is wonderfull!!! I love you!

Kerewin West said...

Hey! I love the blog, check it every day. Fabulous, fresh, exciting, feminist etc. Good on you!

Just a balletomane note: the black swan (Odile) is not the same girl as the white swan (Odette) and they are each transformed by the same evil sorcerer/demon von Rothbart. They are usually roles danced by the same ballerina but only because the evil sorcerer makes his daughter (black swan / Odile) look like Odette to trick Odette's prince into pledging love to the wrong lady! I wouldn't mention it but I'm a nerd. ;-D

La foule said...

I can't wait to see the movie, those sketches are fantastic :)

marcjacobscomgodard said...

ok, that's one of the bests movie reviews I've ever read, and I majored in movies, so I've read a lot of them.
Can't wait to see this movie...

Zeelia said...

The costumes in this movie were absolutely amazing! The film… not so much for me. How many familiar tropes can one fit into a movie? Bulimia, controlling mother, demanding ballet master, self-mutilation, etc. It reached the level of camp, and I laughed out loud a few times. It would have been nice to see the main character have more than one facial expression throughout the whole movie, but it’s not like the script demanded it. I really liked Aronofsky’s other films though. Requiem for a Dream was amazing.

sojourned in style said...

whoa. that was intense. the intensity was tangible. i want to seee this movie now. love what rodarte did, mastering such opposities.

Shilpi said...

this movie is so creepy but it looks so cool!

http://sftrend.blogspot.com

Ben said...

I love rodarte! I'm so happy they made them! I cant wait to see more pictures. Also tavi I knoticed you love cats and cat ladies so I think you might like this...

http://strawberrylemonadeblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/fashion-cat-woman.html

http://bensstylecorner.blogspot.com/

Chocolatier said...

How creepy!
How cool!
And how odd--a recent assignment in my English class was to write a Gothic story and mine was about a girl who is haunted by her dead twin sister via her reflection. (it was supposed to be six pages max but the first draft was twenty--i had to cut it down to nine, which made me very sad--but I'm still very proud of it.)
I love this movie-review style you have going on in this post, and you should do it more often. Of course I love the clothes on this blog, but I've always liked the photo montages you do occasionally, and this too is nice. Variety never goes out of style.

Tavi said...

I love hearing what others who have seen the movie thought!

Abraham -- Sarah Marguerite was right, there is nothing in this post that you wouldn't get from the trailer.

fashionslap.net -- Yes, it's rated R, I saw it with my parents.

Alex said...

Wow...That's are very very nice pictures! love it to much)


http://alex-ab-fashion.blogspot.com/

Prince Paradox said...

Cant wait to watch this movie!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. Oh my god, Lula 11!!!!!

shanley said...

wow! i really love your blog & yourstyles and i have added you in my favorite blog list can you please check our my new blog?
www.x-artistic-passion-x.blogspot.com
thanks so much!
hope you are doing fantastic! :)

Noumia's papers said...

Draws are amazing. I think la danse classique is the most beautiful dance of the world. *.*

xoxo


http://noumias-papers.blogspot.com/

bubbles on my planet said...

amazing drawings, so delicate.

snowboardchick41 said...

I'm pretty bored of your obsession with Rodarte. It's getting old, fast.

Pashupati said...

Makes me think of that book by Amélie Nothomb, Le Robert des Noms Propres.
Simply written, the book has an interesting aesthetic (the snowbodies part), and my Enneagram-obsessed persona would say Plectrude is a 4 when Nina seems a 1.
Now, on the MBTI, Plectrude would be an ESFP when Nina seems to be an *N*(F?)J.
Guess it's translated.

Melissa said...

I think I could stare at this post all day.

coldclove said...

nice pic! :)

http://waronclothes.blogspot.com

Kate said...

Wow oh wow I really want to see this!!
www.styleisalwaysfashionable.blogspot.com

Oliwiaa. said...

This is a fantastic blog! I would like to send you some of my projects.Please write to me. This is my e-mail: oliwiawozniak1998@wp.pl

Oliwiaa. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oliwiaa. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greta said...

BEAU-TI-FUL!

Brianna said...

very pretty sketches!!
bri-thestylesavant.blogspot.com

theceelist said...

I want to see this movie!

http://www.behindtheapprovalmatrix.com/

http://www.behindthelateshow.com/

Fashionably Drugged said...

You're so freaking gorgeous.




















fashionablydrugged.blogspot.com









xx

Just Another Londoner said...

I cannot WAIT to see this film. I've loved ballet since I was tiny and used to go to classes in my little pink leotard-while I don't dance any more, I still find it fascinating. Black Swan is gonna be epic.

luvgmt.com said...

I felt like the movie combined the worst of the worst Hollywood cliches with the best of the best mood setting. Half bad half horrible. Yet I'm tempted to give it a 10!

And the costumes towards the end were gorgeous. I want a black rhinestone tiara now : ).

Aubrey. said...

coole drawings! and beautiful pics!

follow me on www.hopethislasts.com

Abigail said...

still have to see this!!! looks frightening though haha.. love the rodarte dresses

www.lovelywanderlust.com

Samantha Tyler said...

Excellent review of that movie !
xoxo Sam
http://samsensibility.blogspot.com

snowboardchick41 said...

Taviiiiii I didn't mean it! I'm just more into Rachel Comey and Phillip Lim right now!

bug said...

dear tavi,
i have officially read through all of your blog posts! i'm sorry if that sounds super creepy but i just found your blog and got addicted. i love how you dissect the inspirations / themes behind outfits. your blog is great! and your eclectic sense of style is so cool. you manage to make things go together in ways i would never think would work. keep it up! <3

orange:) said...

I find movies about the human mind so interesting. I think what goes around in people's heads are more frightening than any scary movie. I haven't seen this movie yet though. It doesn't come into my country until next year. But the idea of a costume being the instrument to demonstrate a person's slow descent into madness is quite interesting!

Erica said...

Tavi, I really love your write up of this film. My mind was BLOWN today both during and after the film. Even now, hours later I'm still thinking about it. I wish, however, that you gave some credit to the costume designer of the film. Her name is Amy Westcott and she is incredible. She created a beautiful, detailed world and I feel her work is being overshadowed by the Rodarte empire. I am a big fan of Rodarte and have mad respect for those girls, don't get me wrong. It just seems like every blog about town is touting them as the costume designers of the film, which they are not. I even went in to the film thinking they were the costume designers and was surprised to see Ms. Westcott's name in the final credits.

cachoo said...

Oh my goodness! I was excited about the costumes before but secretly fearing disappointment. No more. x

Anne said...

Yeah, wanna see this film.

Emily said...

I did a post on this too! I can't wait to see it for the costumes alone. The sketches are stunning.

www.littlefashionprayer.blogspot.com

Youngseo said...

ur really awesome girl
I adore ur style
I'm a big fan of you:)
http://youngseo1.blogspot.com

janelle said...

dude spoiler alert.

Jenna said...

when i started reading this post i was like "oh i need to put this movie on my movies-to-watch-list" but when i got that list out of somewhere i saw it was already there. i didnt know rodarte did the dresses though. now i cant wait to see it!! :)

ps. i never read posts, i only check. but this time i read the whole thing. honestly!;)

xxx jenna / wanted9097.blogspot.com

Leila said...

Cannot. Wait. To. See. This.

Fluorescent Adolescent said...

This film is a masterpiece. Darren Aronofsky never fails to impress. xx

________________________________

www,cheapthrillas.blogspot.com
________________________________

Courtney said...

I enjoyed this review. I didn't quite know what it was about but you related it well without giving away main plot lines.

--C.

Engreida said...

Brilliant costumes! I love it when the underdog or ugly duckling rules!

Sian said...

I'm sure it's been said in the above comments, but the White Swan and the Black Swan are two separate characters. Odette, a girl (the picture from the dream sequence is actually Swan lake's prologue, and shows her as a human girl) is captured by Rothbart and turned into the White Swan. She is in love with the prince. Rothbart then creates the Black Swan, Odille, to seduce the prince and to break Odette's heart. Sorry to be pedantic, perfectionist ballerina nature blah blah... :)


Lovely post, lovely pictures, as always! :)



Sian.

http://blondorexic.blogspot.com

Justine (TinyTines.com) said...

I love your writing, Tavi! I have heard about your before but never visited your site until now. I saw Black Swan in theaters last night and found your post after doing some research. I think you have fabulous writing skills and I hope you keep blogging, especially about beautiful movies like Black Swan!

julie_bee said...

um, just wondering how you got in since it is rated R..

Mertxe Hernàndez said...

very nice the post of black swan!! love the movie!!!