An Analysis of the Representation of Swans in Heinz and Aronofsky's 'Black Swan'
The 2010 film ‘Black Swan’ brings stereotypes of swans and femininity into the spotlight. Based on the ballet ‘Swan Lake’, this film is heavily influenced by the lore surrounding both the black and the white swan. While this is a commentary of the swan itself, it also plays a part in a larger conversation about gender roles and their consequences. The film follows Nina, a ballerina who is awarded the star role in her dance studio’s annual production of Swan Lake. Nina is expected to be able to (without-flaw) perform the role of the sweet, innocent white swan as well as the cynical, evil black swan. As Nina pushes herself to achieve this duality perfectly, she is overcome by paranoia and begins to see herself become a swan. The film uses costume, color, gender, makeup, and the use of swans to showcase Nina’s gradual descent into her new reality. The film ultimately uses these themes and techniques to comment on the fragility of femininity and how this obsession with perfect femininity is our ultimate demise.