Friday, March 15, 2013

Freaky Friday: Black Swan

The first official review by our new Fearless Blogger is here! With a dance background, Danielle gives us an insider's look at BLACK SWAN.
"Having been a ballet dancer, I know quite a bit about how the ballet world works. So, one would think that a ballet horror film would be right up my alley. Well, a well-done ballet horror film that is.
Believe it or not, there have been several ballet based horror films over the years. The most well-known is probably Dario Argento's masterpiece, Suspiria (1977). This little gem is about a ballet school run by witches. Laugh if you must, and I admit the premise is ridiculous, but it is a great example of Italian gore. [Spoiler Alert: Highlight with mouse to see] Also, anyone with half a brain would find it bizarre that the head of the ballet school would tell a girl to ask some random girl if she could use a pair of her shoes without even asking the girl's size. The second, starring Jennifer Connelly, is called Etoile (1989). Nowhere near as well done as Suspiria, it is kind of interesting with a dream world and a ghost.
So, with that mottled history in mind, that leads us to Black Swan (2010). Nina is a principal dancer at a famous New York ballet company who still lives with her mother. This is mildly reminiscent of some dancers in the 1940's when NYCB was getting its start, but not remotely plausible today. Especially laughable when there is conversation about how beautiful a bloody grapefruit is for breakfast. Newsflash: dancers, like athletes, need lots of carbs and protein. No one in their right mind could withstand a full class eating only a half a grapefruit.
Degage', degage', degage', passe'. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Then, we get about ten stories in one. Nina and the relationship with her mother. Nina and her relationship with the other dancers in the company. Nina going insane. You get the picture. But the relationship between Nina and the Artistic Director stands out most of all. [Spoiler Alert: Highlight with mouse to see] No ballet company, in their right mind, would put up with an A.D. who sexually harasses dancers as much as this guy. Also- you do not need to have a "sexual awakening" to dance the part of the black swan from Swan Lake. The ability to do 32 fouettes --which are these insanely hard turns done on one leg with the other whirling around like a whip-- yes. Oh yes, and let's not forget the obligatory bloody feet scene that appears in every movie about ballet. If your shoe's fit right, you don't get feet this bad.
See, here is my foot. No scars. Guess Nina got her shoes fitted at the witchy ballet school.

So, the ballet sequences are beautiful, the sort of horror and switching back and forth between what is real and what is not, not so much. [Spoiler Alert: Highlight with mouse to see] I'm sorry, but an aging ballerina in a hospital stabbing herself in the face with a nail file is not scary. It's pathetic.

My rating: C"

Human morphs into bird-dancer plus the bloody feet scenes = yuck. What do you think of Black Swan? Do you agree or disagree with our Fearless Blogger?


  1. Not my type of film, but had to watch for Mila Kunis. Like your review though. Agree on the C. Maybe even a D.

  2. It's interesting to get a ballet person's POV on this one! I thought it was strange and felt most of the 'strangeness' was done for shock factor, not the sake of the story. So in the end, I didn't care for it.

  3. Arnovsky's companion piece, The Wrestler, was a much better film. I felt it was extremely depressing, but at least it made sense. Thanks for commenting. :)