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Nina can't dance both the black and the white swan at once, so she falls prey to a common problem of women cast in the virgin-whore dyad: because she's never allowed to coalesce into a balanced whole, her two halves destroy one another. She transforms into the ballet director's "little princess" only once she becomes eroticized and right before she self-destructs.
Film Analysis Part 1
By the film's logic, the longing for the female who can preserve her childlike purity while simultaneously being a sexualized woman is the impossible fantasy that rips her apart. While descending deeper into her black-and-white-swan-ness, Nina shatters the ballerina that dances in a music box by her bed each night.
Later, the doll pirouettes on the broken leg that is all that remains of her. There is in women a carnality that has yet to be codified and therefore remains invisible in the conventional vision of her. As Nina finds ever-worsening scratch marks on her back, we begin to wonder if it's the full spectrum of female sexuality, neither virgin nor whore, that is trying to claw its way out, a severed limb that keeps dancing long after the rest of her has been smashed.
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BLACK SWAN Blu-ray Review
All rights reserved. However, the Snake of the Underworld is not buried that easily.
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Murphy and his creative team allow her to surface subtly in the characters of both Odette and her nemesis, the Baroness von Rothbart. Hearing his step, she conceals herself in a curtain. The curtain is thrust aside — to reveal the Baroness, dressed for the boudoir in a fetching negligee. This intriguing play between Odette and her dark sister Odile, in both their traditional and Murphy forms, weaves throughout the ballet.
She appears most obviously Black Swan-ish at the beginning of the Act III ballroom scene, where, dressed in darkly sparkling brocades, she triumphantly caresses the Prince, holding him in thrall to her charms. When the Prince visits Odette in her asylum room, she is sent into a frenzy by the sight of the Baroness at the tall windows. The Prince, in this version, goes to join the Baroness, and Odette clings helplessly to the window from the inside. As she defiantly spins, her demure white lace gown reveals a black underskirt — the dark menace of her madness, which will finally kill her.
This symbology is fully developed in the tragic fourth act, where Odette, her fragile mind snapped, returns to the swan fantasies of her Act II asylum hallucinations.
Virgin and Whore in Black Swan
Her madness, her dark side, has triumphed; but as she drowns herself, in a spectacular coup de theatre , black gives way to white, torment to peace. Perhaps this white swan, in the Underworld beneath the frozen lake, can be free of all wicked snakes.
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