Posted by Sarah
All are welcome to attend the fifth of this term’s screening and discussion sessions which will take place on the 5th of March in Keynes Seminar Room 6, from 4pm to 7pm.
We will be screening Black Swan (2010, Darren Aronofsky, 108 mins).
Ann-Marie has very kindly provided the following introduction:
The film is said to be inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 1846 novel The Double. In the book a man goes mad when he encounters his double, and, like Black Swan, the double in Dostoyevsky’s novel is the polar opposite of the original self.
The film revolves around Tchaikovsky’s brilliant ballet, Swan Lake. Natalie Portman plays both the White and the Black Swan. Her performance, (for which she won a Best Actress Oscar) focuses on the slow spiral into madness caused by an over-protective mother, the intense pressure of her work, confusion of her sexual orientation, and perhaps, the acknowledgment of the short-lived career of her predecessor (Winona Ryder). In fact, it is not hard to see the All About Eve (1950) links throughout the film, particularly if we consider the fear and paranoia of the younger/prettier/talented performers. Show business has a shelf-life, something the women in this film are more than acutely aware of.
The film was chosen for multiple reasons, but none more so than the idea of the doppelganger. The doppelganger is the paranormal double of a living person. The doppelganger is seen to be sinister and bad luck, often regarded as an omen of death. Perhaps most fascinating about the use of the double in this film is the idea of identity, both hidden and the eventual loss of it, and it is this that could be further expanded in our meeting.
Potential discussion points:
The use of music, particularly in reference to Portman’s character, Nina.
Hidden identity and its connection to melodrama.
The extension of a fictional self and/or the dissolution of self.
The double in terms of polar opposites and its importance to narratives as a whole, but particularly melodrama.
Lastly, dance and movement as an expression of character. This brings to mind the sweeping cape of the Victorian melodramas. Plainly, what type of movement do we identify with a type of character? How does this alter our perception and add to the melodramatic mode? Are the villains prone to excessive movement, and how do we interpret that in our culture?
Do join us if you can.
A link to Dostoyevsky’s novella: http://fiction.eserver.org/novels/the_double.html