Feb. 14th, 2011

salienne: (Fringe Olivia 2)
Y'all remember that film blog I did last semester? Well guess what I'm doing again!

So, for your reading pleasure, here be the first installment:

Black Swan and the Hazards of Female Autonomy

In many ways, Aronfsky’s award-winning Black Swan is a film about femininity and repressed womanhood. Following the struggles of Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, to master the lead role in Swan Lake, Black Swan focuses on the pressure on women not only to reach perfection but to be perfect. In this respect the film’s message is clear. This pressure is destructive, leading to Huge spoiler ).

When it comes to more nuanced notions of gender and repression, however, Black Swan becomes much more thematically murky. For purposes of this post, I will focus on the issues of female adulthood, independence, and sexuality in our protagonist, Nina. Through its depiction of her journey to self-destruction, Black Swan delivers the clear message that a free woman is a dangerous woman, perhaps less miserable than the trapped girl but certainly more devastating.


The primary female influence on Nina is her mother, Erica Sayers, played by Barbara Hershey... )

I clearly did not cover everything there was to cover re: gender in Black Swan or even everything to do with female sexuality here, partially due to time and word constraints and partially due to focus. This essay is about what it means to grow up a woman in the world of this film, and it's neither a pleasant nor positive experience.

I definitely think there is more to be said about female homosexuality/bisexuality and motherhood, though, and I find the way Nina's mom is both this twisted figure
and the moral voice of the film a bit... odd, if not downright disturbing, though I haven't quite untangled my own thoughts there yet. I also think I could delve more into the idea of male (sexual?) ownership and its arbitrariness (see: "my little princess") and I'm sad I didn't get to explore the significance of Beth's character and Nina's quest for perfection and unhealthy self-policing more. Of course this leads us into the mental illness angle, which I just don't feel competent enough to cover.

So... yeah. It's a good movie. Obviously has its issues (still wtf'ing over Aronfsky's quote, ngl) but I'd recommend it. Definite trigger warning for mental illness, self-injury, sexual harassment/assault, and body horror though.


salienne: (Default)

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