Black Swan: A disturbing reminder

Swan Lake .mp3
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For those who do not know the story of Swan Lake – here’s a short summary.

Long ago, there was a beautiful girl who caught the eye of an evil sorcerer. He wanted to marry her but she refused. In a bid to prevent anyone from falling in love with her, he put a curse on her. That she would remain in the form of a swan until the curse is broken by true love.

As it is, she did fall in love with a prince and vice versa. One day the prince held a ball to choose a lady for marriage. When the sorcerer found out, he trapped the white swan and prevented her from attending the ball. In her stead, he sent his daughter disguised as her.

His daughter, aka the black swan, convinced the prince that she is the lady he is in love with. He pledged his love to her just as the white swan made it to the ball. She was devastated and taken back to the tower where she was locked up.

In the movie, it ended with her throwing herself off the cliff and thus breaking the curse forever. In the Japanese anime I watched some 25 years ago, the prince killed the sorcerer and they lived happily ever after.

The story of Swan Lake has captivated me all these years, more so when I heard the haunting melody composed by Tchaikovsky. So it didn’t take much for me to decide to watch Black Swan.

Well the movie is not fairy tale for sure. It actually chronicles the entire process that led to Nina’s eventual psychological breakdown in her quest to showcase the most perfect rendition of the white/black swan ballet.

My eyes were glued to the screen for the full two hours. Every scene was a calculated progression of the suspense while some scenes were just plain disturbing. The viewer is led to believe certain events took place when it was simply a projection of Nina’s inner fears.

The pressure on her was steadily built throughout the movie and climaxed at the final presentation of the ballet when Nina threw herself off the imaginary cliff to break free from the curse. We found out that she had stabbed herself in the abdomen during one of her hallucinations and bled out as the sound of thundering applause rang all around her.

I can think of three things the producer was trying to convey.

1. To attain perfection, one has to completely lose yourself. Either break free of your inhibitions or reach into the darker side.

2. There are two ways to get achieve success – either succumb to scandalous liaisons or to the pressure of doing it the right way which may make or break you.

3. Is artistic perfection worth the price? On one hand it feels such a waste for something so trivial but on the other hand, what better way to end it? I can almost feel Nina’s joy as she embraced the attainment of perfection.

I don’t think I will ever understand the essence of artistic perfection. Perfection has never been important to me. What’s important is the journey not the destination. Any thoughts?

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