Ego = Natalie Portman's character
Super Ego = her mother
Id = her choreographer
Alter Ego = the dancer competing for her role.
Dancing the Black Swan = having/enjoying sex
Dancing as the white swan = maintaining control/perfection
Her rigid super ego (mother) tries to suppress her sexual/unacceptable impulses. Her choreographer (Id) tries to seduce her/corrupt her.
In order to be an integrated human, she must recognize and accept her desires but retain her control. She must destoy her old self (striving for prefection, rigid, etc.)(white swan) as well as the black swan (unacceptable sexual desires) in order to transform into a real person. She must come to accept herself as neither perfect nor evil, neither white or black swan.
The claustrophobic and controlling relationship Nina has with her mother is interesting and in my view it should be the cornerstone of any interpretation of the movie. It is sometimes difficult to tell when Nina’s mother is the problem or when she is legitimately trying to protect Nina or both.
In the movie Nina's mother says she doesn't want Nina to make the same mistakes she did, which was to fall pregnant with Nina and destroy her dancing career. Keeping her daughter innocent, happy and focused on dancing seem to be her intention and purpose in life and on the surface Nina seems to embrace this.
The real harm, however, is in her mother’s obsessive adoration. Nina knows she is her mother’s life and this responsibility must weigh heavily on her. Nina feels she must be perfect, sweet and loving in order to keep her mother happy and to make amends for being born and destroying her mother’s life.
I don’t believe it is her mother’s intention to force Nina into perfection, but rather the strong bond and love between both women is emotionally charged.
Nina must let go of this bond with her mother – find herself, give in to her own needs and desires and ultimately free herself from her mother’s love. Breaking her mother’s hand is possibly symbolic of Nina breaking free from her mother’s clasp.
Early in the film, Nina steals numerous objects (lipstick, earrings, a nailfile) from the previous swan dancer who has reluctantly retired. This is a sign that Nina wishes to be someone else and is unhappy within herself. She says she wants to be perfect like the previous swan. This desire for perfection, however, is crippling her dancing style.
Nina’s desire for perfection and inability to be perfect causes self-loathing. She internalises her true feelings and in the process creates a second self. It is hinted that she has a history of self-harm when her mother notices the scratches on Nina’s back and tries to prevent Nina from hurting herself. It seems Nina has no control over her self-harm. She tries to stop herself by cutting her own nails, but only ends up hurting herself in the process.
Her mother is aware that Nina is getting increasingly sick, that she is stealing things, loosing weight, and she attempts to help Nina, which only reinforces the issue further.
As the pressure increases to perform with uncontrolled sensuality and to give into her own desires, Nina’s mental instability increases and her internalised self begins to take over.
Ultimately Nina’s true desire - which is never to have been born - takes over and she kills herself, finding true freedom and breaking her mother’s heart.
I just watched Black Swan last night and it's haunting me! Interpretations I've read are very deep and probably accurate. Nina obviously is a paranoid schitophrenic (sp)and my question is: did ANY of this actually occur? or was it all in her mind? She might just be a mentally ill young woman who is being taken care of by her over-protective mother. I think the scene where she knocks the jewelry box (with the ballet dancer of the white swan) off the nightstand might be significant. Maybe the entire story took place in the mind of a severely mentally ill woman. This is going to make me crazy thinking about it! lol
I thought the movie was about the extreme lengths a perfectionist will go to in order to achieve a perfect performance. Essentially, she was so obsessed with making sure she was perfect that her mind invented all those obstacles and hallucinations as a kind of "test" for her to overcome. At the end, she has successfully overcome everything and can say, "I was perfect." Never mind that her mental state is obviously terrible, since she imagined a lesbian encounter, murdering her "rival" (who actually was a friend), and seeming to stab herself (which I am sure wasn't true since who could dance a whole act with a stab wound like that?).
So it's about the crazy mental state of a true perfectionist, and basically a commentary on what artists have to go through for the sake of their art.
You guys are over analyzing the movie way too hard. Nina's life IS the story of Swan Lake. Go read the play and tell me how similiar the swan's story and Nina's is.
I just want to say this some where.
I think her mother is exaggerated and not there most of the time.
She does so many things to her mother and her mother even shifts in appearence at points. Then those things done to her mother DO NOT hold up or her mother acts as if she is unaware.
For example: Nina wakes up and her door isn't locked. The night before she had fought with her mother. When she rushes out, her mother appears to be independent and normal instead of absorbed and controlling as.. she [ her mother] sits in the living room and is confused by what her daughter is saying.
There are many moments where it just seems like there is a completely different "mother". All played by the same woman. There are times that the mother is surreal or supernatural. There are times that the mother is just an extension of the activity that Nina is doing, at those time she can become a monster. There are times her mother is a monster or Nina's concious amplified. But then there are those times that her Mother is just another human being, checking on the activities of someone in their household or crashing on the couch.
Wounds or Reality?
I noticed the scratch marks on Nina's back would disappear and reappear at random. Usually the wounds were there when she was hollucinating or harming herself. But when she wasn't, the wounds weren't there.
Then there were the outfits she was wearing. I know she appeared to be wearing layers of clotheing, but when she would be practicing with her instructor YOU CAN SEE the shoulder without the scratches clearly. But noone says anything about scratches or a rash. She also is touching hands with people and has her hands completely exposed, but no damage is on her hands. Noone says anything about her hands or shoulder. ( With exceptions when she is hollucinating badly.)
So I feel like I have to pick between either the whole movie being a hollucination or the self harm being a hollucination.
She also seemed to be torn at times between fun or masterbation and scratching or harming herself. I wonder if all these scratches represented times she let loose or things she was denying herself of.
I love you stories and i hope you'll be able to maintain them coming. Honestly it is challenging to find an interesting blog these days.
this is only an interpretation but i think that Nina tries to be too perfect. And in order to be the perfect character in her dance, she needs to do some 'bad things' such as having sex, drinking, and stealing. She needs to let out her inner evil self to be the perfect person to play this role in the Swan Lake.
In the end when she said "i was perfect" it is at that time that she realizes she was perfect all along. She realizes she didnt need to let her evil side out.
when she supposedly stabs herself, she doesnt realize the pain until after her performance. and when it finally came to her senses that she 'stabbed' herself, she thinks that there was no reason for it. she was possibly thinking that she was perfect the way she was all along so why did she stab herself? i see it as her regretting the decision of stabbing herself because she realizes everything was done for perfection but in the end, she was perfect anyways. She accepts the fact and it kind of looks like she is ready to die in the end, like she was okay with it. when she died, she was the white swan. the white swan represents Nina as herself before she became 'evil' under the influence of her dance teacher and Lily. And Nina as herself, was perfect.
I HAVE to agree with the interpretation of the relationship between Nina and her mother. It makes a LOT of sense. I believe this is why, when she gets the role as Swan Queen, she locks herself in the bathroom to tell her MOTHER.
I believe what the director was trying to do was to make this relatable in many ways.
Nina and her mother had a strong relationship, maybe too strong. Her mother tried controlling her and living her dreams through her. Since Nina had a chance her mother could only dream of having, she pushed her to be perfect, putting stress on Nina.
This leads me to the next part. Nina wanted to be perfect and would to anything to achieve her goal. She used the old swans things and tried to kill her alternate, just so she could be perfect and deliver a perfect show. I believe this shows the amount of stress put on performers to be amazing, to be perfect. This desire overtook Nina and led her to self harm and bulimic actions, aswell as having scary visions and thinking things were there when there really weren't.
This leads me to the next part. Nina was ill. In the ballet show she was putting on she had to play the role of two, the white swan (perfect, controlled) aswell as the black swan (rebelious, daring). Nina decided that if she wanted to be perfect in these roles she had to become them. She was already controlled so she decided to do some crazy things such as alcohol and drugs aswell as lesbian sex (or fantasizing about it), and "killing" her alternate.
In the end her show went perfectly (after the first act). After that she went to her dressing room and "killed" her alternate (really stabbing herself). She went out and performed the last act, still having the wound in her. She danced and finished by jumping off the stage onto a matress set for her to land on. After landing people come and realize she has a horrible wound. At this point I believe she dies, but not before expressing that she did what she wanted to do, to be perfect.
she was a perfectionist and wanted her dance to be absolutely perfect. In order to do that, she needed to become both the white swan and the black swan.
But it was too difficult for her to act as both, so in an act of self preservation, her dominant side, which is the good side (the white swan) had to kill her darker side, the black swan. But when she killed the black swan, she was killing herself, because a part of her WAS the dark swan.
So in her determination to become perfect, she actually killed herself. There was no way to be "perfect" and she payed for it with her life.
But when she killed the black swan, she deluded herself into thinking that she was finally perfect, and that's how she managed to dance so beautifully and "perfectly."
But that only lasted for a short while, because in the last scene, she realizes that she has killed herself and is horrified.
While she is dancing, however, I think she finally realizes that the perfect that she is striving for is impossible, and that she WAS perfect, even before trying to be. And that's why she says at the end, "I was perfect," because she was. And we all are.
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