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Black Swan (2010)
Perfection is not just about control. It's also about letting go.
Director: Darren Aronofsky

A journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect.

Black Swan (2010)

The Math

When I encountered “Pi,” I was profoundly upset. It happened again with “Beautiful Mind” and “Good Will,” other films about mathematical imagination. How, I wondered, could something as inherently cinematic as the mathematical imagination be so clumsily handled? How is it that the only way we can even partially experience this on the screen (in most cases) is through music and not image?

How is it that someone as obviously predisposed as Aronofsky fumbles? Well, here he redeems himself and makes the film about geometrically guided genius that eluded him before.

The form is dance, the mathematician here is a ballet dancer, and the dream within is well known music, often backwards. But those choices are merely conventions used to allow the camera to dance as it needs to. The opening scene lets us know how our eye will be constrained and what energy it will have. We later discover this is a dream, a nightmare so we know we are entering an internal world and only seeing the “real world” as it penetrates and is structured by this savant.

Here we do have the vitality of a mathematical vision, the partnership of things and the seeing of things. Here, the camera moves every bit as energetically and gracefully as the subject. Some shots I simply cannot fathom how they were done unless with precision, quite dangerous choreography of bodies, camera and lights. We are in the space dancing as we are watching the elements in the space build order.

Yes, our subject is mad. Yes, she is a driven genius. Yes, the people around are relative imbeciles, slaves to their own ghosts but without any reward.

Yes, she is prepared to die for the immersion in her own creation, but that is what it takes, what drove Nash mad. Yes, she has to unharness the beast within, without which she has no sight whatever, and which always hurts. Always.

Thank you sir, for giving us this. Thank you for mastering the symmetries involved: of stillness and motion; of madness and sense; of losing to gain; and of pain for joy. Thank you for allowing us to have our imaginations revealed.

Posted in 2010

Ted’s Evaluation — 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.


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