The Black Swan

January 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm (By Realpc)

I saw the movie The Black Swan the other day, and I resonated with it on several different levels. I actually felt my soul blazing throughout the whole movie. It’s about the ballet Swan Lake, which I have never seen (but now of course I want to see it). The main theme of the movie is, I would say, the universal human struggle with the Shadow.

The main character, Nina, is a carefully controlled perfectionist, a young woman still tied to her mother. She never lets go, and therefore the Shadow bursts out in strange ways. Nina scratches her skin until it bleeds, and experiences psychotic hallucinations.

She will be a great artist as soon as she learns one more lesson — how to accept the deep violent passion within her. And by the end of the movie, she has learned.

Anyone who has read any of my posts might know that I believe in trying to face Reality. Rather than escape into comforting fantasies and ideologies, I try to see what is there and find ways to live with it.

The post that I think expressed my philosophy best was, by a strange Jungian “coincidence,” about swans on a lake. We look at swans gliding effortlessly and we never think about the hard ugly reality that supports their beauty.

We think that grace and beauty can be manufactured and maintained by us, by our cleverness. Our mythology tells us that we are gods, that we are in control.

We are not. Just like Nina, everything we fear and hate rages within and around us. Our deepest love and desire rests on the Shadow. Our greatest and most perfect artistic expressions rest on the Shadow.

How could any so-called “progressive” ever reconcile these horrible blazing truths with their bland fantasies of peace and fairness for all?

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19 Comments

  1. Jason (the commenter) said,

    Just like Nina, everything we fear and hate rages within and around us. Our deepest love and desire rests on the Shadow. Our greatest and most perfect artistic expressions rest on the Shadow.

    I thought this was one of the best movies of the year, but I didn’t think it had universal appeal. I thought it was focused at three subsets of the population:

    1) If you strip off the romantic trappings, Nina was just another woman searching for an orgasm. There are lesbian sex scenes, and with any movie with lesbian sex scenes, there are going to be people who only enjoy it for the lesbian sex scenes. (Thank you for subsidizing my movie-going experience.)

    2) Narcissists like to envision their problems in terms of monumental struggle, so they enjoy stories where a great person or artist struggles. They will envision themselves in the place of Nina and see her triumph as a foreshadowing of their own. Of course, Nina was a talented artists so her hang-ups were reflected in her performance. Most narcissists aren’t artists and their problems aren’t aesthetic barriers, just run of the mill problems they probably wont ever overcome.

    3) People who want to see an edgy, artistic film so they can tell others they saw it (for reasons of status).

  2. soapstix1 said,

    I think there is a lot of over analizing of a lousy movie. I still wonder what the people who enjoyed this do for a good time. This was not entertaining, or even really suspensful, just absolutley boring. I kept waiting for something interesting and when all was said and done, there was nothing. I believe it was an attempt to make a story around a little porn. Not anything new, and not anything but boring.

  3. realpc920 said,

    So you didn’t get it. So everyone who did get it was a pervert, a narcissist, or a snob. Yes, of course. Obviously Jason, you are not going to acknowledge your shadow in this lifetime.

  4. Jason (the commenter) said,

    So you didn’t get it. So everyone who did get it was a pervert, a narcissist, or a snob.

    You don’t have to be one of the groups of people a movie is aimed at to “get it”. This movie is for people to get off to, it’s masturbatory. The audience is like a character from Requiem for a Dream, addicted to something, and Black Swan is meant to be the drug.

    Yes, of course. Obviously Jason, you are not going to acknowledge your shadow in this lifetime.

    My “shadow” is not capitalized or preceded by “the”, neither is it given a romantic name. None of these things do anything but obscure reality to make it more palatable.

  5. realpc920 said,

    Let me guess Jason, Your politics is “progressive” and you are not religious or spiritual. And you are not an artist. So naturally you would fail to understand this movie. And naturally you would have an ugly diagnosis for everyone who does understand it.

  6. amba12 said,

    I haven’t seen this movie, and I won’t, because it was directed by the director of The Wrestler, and I hated that movie. The voyeurism, the romanticizing of someone who goes to masochistic extremes — I thought it was extremely sentimental and sensationalistic. A tear-jerker on (literally) steroids.

  7. amba12 said,

    Jason is a skeptic (so naturally he and realpc are like . . . I don’t know, like vinegar and baking soda) but not a progressive, more a libertarian, I think.

  8. realpc said,

    I had not heard anything about that movie before I saw it. I didn’t know who directed it or who was in it and I had not read any reviews. I knew that it was a truly amazing movie only from watching it. I went with my 86-year-old mother, and she felt the same way. Neither my mother or I are into porn or violence, and we are not movie snobs. We simply watched the movie and we got it.

    Afterwards I read some reviews and saw that I was not the only person who considered it to be profound and true, and a work of art. It would not appeal to anti-mystical materialists however. Its message is that we are not in control.

    Refusing to even watch it and find out for yourself would be a mistake.

  9. realpc said,

    “Jason is a skeptic (so naturally he and realpc are like . . . I don’t know, like vinegar and baking soda) ”

    I am a skeptic.

  10. realpc said,

    I just read the NY Times review. No surprise — they didn’t get it either. I bet it will be easy to predict who loves or hates this movie. Everyone who denies the dark side of nature, and human nature, will run screaming from this message. They will rage at this message and drive it ever further into the darkness, as they have always done.

  11. Icepick said,

    A tear-jerker on (literally) steroids.

    Were they tears of rage?

  12. amba12 said,

    They were tears of self-pity and gratuitous self-destruction.

    Sorry, living with someone who lived through what J did, I absorbed his lack of comprehension for the glamour of self-destruction. I think all that post-Rimbaudian épater-le-bourgeois shit is so consummately bourgeois.

  13. realpc said,

    Amba, this movie can be interpreted on more than one level, and people are going to see it in very different ways. I did not think it was about self-destruction at all. For me, it was all about the Shadow. If my prediction is correct — that materialists and progressives will hate it, or try to minimize it — that might confirm my interpretation.

    As you probably know, I believe that beauty has its roots in ugliness, and that’s the message I saw in the movie. Our world is paradoxical and ironic, ruled by the Trickster. But we educated Americans are taught the opposite.

  14. amba12 said,

    I did not think it was about self-destruction at all.

    Not having seen it, I don’t know. I saw The Wrestler and I thought it glamorized self-destruction.

  15. realpc said,

    Nina is a driven perfectionist — like anyone who is dedicated to an art. And like any perfectionist, she is hard on herself. I am sure many of us can resonate with that, even if we are not great artists (or narcissists). I certainly have always been driven, with one thing or another, and that is one reason this movie set my soul on fire.

    Nina is surrounded by “frenemies.” Her mother, her ballerina rivals — all secretly subconsciously wish her dead. She forges ahead through the mine field, always fixated on creating beauty. But she finds out that beauty depends not just on perfection, but also on the volcanic energies of the Shadow.

  16. Ron said,

    I agree The Wrestler is full of self-pity….but self-destruction? I’m curious why you see that in it.

  17. Icepick said,

    Amba, I was specifically thinking of tears of ‘roid rage. Just a bad joke, nothing more.

  18. amba (Annie Gottlieb) said,

    I didn’t see that that comment was from you . . . and I’m too dopey these days to “get it.”

  19. Ron said,

    all that post-Rimbaudian épater-le-bourgeois shit

    Ah, the good news is that they can cure that these days, totally outpatient. One small incision, snip, snip, and you’re out the door!

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