In our first shot, we see a dancer materialize as a spotlight slices through black space. We witness happiness, franticness, panic, horror, and beauty all in our opening shots as a woman is happily twirling carefree until being haunted and terrorized by what is revealed to be the demon "Rothbart" and only then to be transformed into the White Swan, the iconic protagonist of Swan Lake. It is then shown as a dream from Nina, our disciplined and hopeful artist.
Black Swan is a film that brings us behind the scenes of a world that most people never get to see. This is a tale of an artist seeking greatness who must first endure suffering and sacrifice. We see an artist go through major transformations mentally and visually while questioning her own sanity, morality, and ability to endure. Black Swan uses a variety of elements and can be broken down structurally to tell the story of "the obsessed performer." And how her desires and obsession eventually lead to her fate.
Act 1 of this film introduces us to who Nina Sayer is from the very moment we leave that opening White Swan scene. This is when we first really meet Nina, and she seems to be like a child. She lives with her mother, and her bedroom is very pink and frilly, full of stuffed animals and dolls. Her very name, Nina, even means "little girl" in Spanish. We see her innocence and vulnerability which is the exact embodiment of the White Swan. We also learn that Nina is willing to go through pain and discomfort for her art, but we soon realize that her pain and discomfort aren't enough to be as great as she wants to be.
Every story has its first turning point. The moment of which the protagonist embarks on their journey is commonly known as the inciting incident. Usually, this leads the protagonist towards a desire and starts them on the path to change. In Black Swan, the inciting incident happens when there is an announcement that the company will be performing Swan Lake this season. The very ballet that Nina was dreaming about. This leads to her desire of wanting to be chosen to be the new Swan Queen.
In this film, we are given a reason to care about Nina's desire because we can understand her fears. Her fears are established through her home life and more specifically, her mother. Her mother is a former ballerina who never achieved any notable career success and refuses to let Nina grow up. Nina's mother is very controlling and surrounds her with music boxes and toys. She represents the mediocrity that Nina herself fears and will later come to despise on her journey to greatness. Fear is a very heavy theme throughout Black Swan, and we come to understand Nina's fears very well, but we also get to understand her desires just as well. Just like most stories though, Nina can't just walk up and take her desire. Something must stand in her way, and that's where the mentor comes in. The mentor wields absolute power and holds the top position in the world of the story. This is where we...