A modern, presumably to-be-(historical)-classic, film that has established itself being one of the greatest films of today is the works of Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan (2010). It is constantly praised for being a perfect resemblance and representation of the genre that explores the desire for artistic perfection, and has in some cases been compared to other films on this matter such as Whiplash (2014), while also being categorised as a psychological thriller for its dark, and dissonant sensuality.
The main theme of the film is the dichotomy and incongruence of light and dark, constantly letting them conquer each other in their differences in various key elements to the film. The white and black swan is the obvious metaphor for this in its simplicity of the visual difference, but also in their deeper meaning and essence, the imagined rivalry between Nina and Lily which perfectly represent each of the swans, and the constant depiction of sexuality and innocence, both dressed with the colour scheme of the opposites, to establish virginity as the light and sexuality as the dark. This dichotomy is also further created with the production of the movie. The setting of the movie alternates in the scheme of the main motive with recurring exchanges of light and dark scenes, portrayed by scenes varying in the time during the day, the characters constantly dressing in colour palettes that disclose their personalities and inner emotions, and the process of slowly decreasing the amount of light throughout the film. Another crucial level of this portrayal is the gradual disintegration of the separation of light and dark, which symbolises the process of Nina’s mental dismantling. The role of both the white and black swan is given to Nina forcing her to embrace them both, the intertwinement of Nina and Lily in the utterly sexual dream of Nina, and the climax of the final performance, with the story of the white and black swan. Settings that previously were light are now used in much darker scenes, and with that, the emotion and feeling towards the setting has changed within both the storyline and the audience. This technique allows for the audience not only believing that Nina is turning insane, but postulates the viewers to participate in the emotional odyssey to derangement.
Another level to this dichotomy the fundamental human relationship to morality, with the perpetual discourse of right and wrong being withheld with the ultimate tool of power, shame. Nina is being held captive in the arms of an obsessive mother, constantly praised for her achievements in, ultimately, innocence and being treated to that standard. Her bedroom is kept childlike filled with stuffed animals, the appearance of a ballerina box is recurring, and her mother demands absolute knowledge and control over Nina. This creates an atmosphere in which Nina is conclusively being kept a child, even though she has reached the very ripe age of 28. With this problematic relationship with her over protective mother, she has not experiences much that would imply her adulthood, such as accepting and exploring her sexuality, which is a key element for her to completing her role as the black swan. In various scenes this is mentioned when Nina is practising dancing in the presence of the director of the production, Leroy. He constantly comments on her stiff performance and sense of the role, perfectly mastering the innocence of the white swan but struggling to fully commit to the dark essence of the black swan. Consistently throughout the film Leroy sheds light on the matter, while Nina equally as frequently passes it on as nonsense and therefore denying the existence of her having any kind of sexuality. Another scene in the film that speaks volume in this matter is, undoubtedly, the masturbation sequence. When Nina finally decides to commit and tries to discover her sexuality through masturbation, being in the very midst of it, she finds herself interrupted by the sight of her mother in her room, vast asleep but still constantly watching her. Obviously, this is washed over with shame causing Nina to further oppress parts of herself being too adult for her mother’s belief that Nina is still a young girl.
Black Swan is the embodiment of the psychopathic and unhinged, in depicting a film through the perspective of main character whose reality is distorted, morphed into insanity. The films tells the story of the fundamental dichotomies of the entirety of humanity, and forces the audience to participate in the climax of the salvation, the ultimate form of purification not from sin but from morality, catharsis.