15 Must-Know Details About Black Swan

15 Must-Know Details About Black Swan

I find the character of Nina very similar to myself. Her ambition, her physique, her dance are an extraordinary performance. If I were in his place, I have no doubt that I would do the same. 🙂


Darren Aronofsky, who stepped into the world of cinema with the movie Pi, which took its place on the big screen in 1998, solidified his place in the world of cinema with Requiem for a Dream, which he presented to the audience in 2000. Then, he signed a production that can be considered among the modern classics with Black Swan, where he sat on the director’s chair in 2010. The production, which impressed the audience with its high tension, made Aronofsky nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. The production, which took its place among the popular productions of the year it was released thanks to names such as Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder in the cast, ensured that Portman was deemed worthy of the Oscar for Best Actress.

The production, which is a different interpretation of Swan Lake Ballet, presents the story of a ballerina to the audience in unusual ways with its symbolic elements and manages to stay in mind with the complex emotions it contains. Black Swan, which successfully took its place on the big screen despite the difficulties it faced during the preparation and shooting process, also draws attention as it is the first and only production that brought Aronofsky an Oscar nomination.

You can find the list below that we have compiled 15 details you need to know about Black Swan, from Portman’s use of stuntmen to economic problems, from the names considered for the cast to the inspirations of the director.

Collaboration with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis

Director Aronofsky wanted to heighten the tension between Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman. To this end, he kept the two separate throughout the shoot to set the two against each other, and sent both of them intimidating messages about the other’s performance in the shoot. But the effort proved futile as Portman and Kunis were already good friends before the Black Swan movie. The fact that Kunis joined the cast of the movie thanks to Portman’s advice is the biggest indicator that the relationship between the two is uncompetitive and friendly.

Controversy over Portman’s Use of Stunts

Portman’s use of stuntmen in the dance scenes caused some problems among the people who contributed to the film, apart from the audience. Portman’s dance stunt double, Sarah Lane, complained that the producers had asked her not to give interviews before DVD/Blu-Ray sales of the movie began, which is why Portman took the credit for the dance. The subject of dance scenes grew like an avalanche and many had to make a statement. Choreographer Benjamin Millepied noted that Portman was dancing in most of the scenes and Lane only did some of the footwork. Another statement denying Lane’s claim came from director Darron Aronofsky. Counting the shots in the movie, the director added that with simple math, Portman dances in 80 percent of the dance scenes. Kunis also denied Lane’s allegations and said he thought it was right for Portman to get credit for the dance scenes. Stuntman Sarah Lane takes part in 23 seconds of the dance scene at the opening of the movie. The remaining 85 seconds of performance belongs entirely to Portman. This demonstrates Portman’s success.

Natalie Portman’s Preparation Process

Portman went into a long-term preparation process for the dance scenes. Her belief and enthusiasm for the film enabled her to begin her ballet training a year before the official script arrived. In addition, the film covered the training from his own pocket until it found an investor. In addition to her ballet training, she lost 9 kg to look like a ballerina. Aronofsky also stated that the reason for making the film was Portman’s dedication and enthusiasm.

Portman Had a Hard Time Adjusting His Voice

Portman said in an interview that the hardest thing for her, aside from dancing, was adjusting her voice. She stated that the directors she worked with before Aronofsky were uncomfortable with Portman’s childish voice and encouraged her to have a deeper and more adult voice by working with her vocal coaches. But the role of Nina required Portman to return to her past and have a more childlike voice. According to Portman, regaining her voice, which she had barely left behind, was one of the things that challenged her the most.

Names Considered for Casting

Before the casting of the film was finalized, different names came to the fore. Meryl Streep was considered for the role of Lily’s mother, Erica. Parker Posey was strongly recommended to Darren Aronofsky to portray the character of Beth Macintyre, but the director’s decision was Winona Ryder. Rachel Weisz (The Fountain) and Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream), who played the lead roles in Darren Aronofsky’s previous productions, were also among the names considered to give life to the character of Beth MacIntyre. Blake Lively and Eva Green auditioned for the role of Lily. Another name that auditioned was Summer Glau. Oddly enough, although he was qualified to play the role, he did not appear in the movie because his role was canceled before filming began. Antonio Banderas and Hugh Jackman were considered for the role of Thomas Leroy.

Black Swan’s Journey to the Screen Takes 10 Years

It took almost 10 years for the script to be reflected on the big screen. The first version of the script was written by Andres Heinz under the name The Understudy, and the story was set in the New York theater world. Aronofsky liked the script, but suggested using the concept of ballet instead of theatre. Then first John J. McLaughlin, then Mark Heyman penned the script.

Movie Soundtrack

Composed by Clint Mansell, the soundtrack is a variation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, but played backwards and distorted.

Problems Caused by the Restriction of the Budget

Natalie Portman was injured many times during filming. The biggest injury among them was the protrusion of his rib while being lifted during the dance. Asking the producers for help, Portman replied that they could not afford the infirmary due to the very limited budget. Although Aronofsky’s expected budget was around 28-30 million dollars, the budget allocated for the film was 13 million dollars. Portman also said that if they need to cut something from the budget, they can take his trailer and rent an infirmary instead. Then Portman’s trailer was removed and an infirmary opened in its place. Due to this accident, Portman had to receive physical therapy during filming, and it took six weeks to fully recover. Also, Portman’s frequent accidents caused delays in filming. His most common injury was his left toe, and filming was delayed and delayed so that Portman’s foot was bandaged. Portman’s toe was injured so often that after a while the team named it “Natalie Portman’s Left Foot Delay.” Then it was shortened to “Portmantoe”. He also hit his head once during filming and suffered a bad concussion that required an MRI. Despite all these economic and medical problems, the movie had a box office success of 329 million dollars in the USA.

Requiem for a Dream vs. Black Swan Similarities

Black Swan has similarities with the drug-themed Requiem for a Dream, which is also directed by Darren Aronofsky. Probably the most obvious resemblance between them is that half a grapefruit and a boiled egg that Nina ate at the beginning of the movie were part of Sara Goldfarb’s diet in Requiem for a Dream. In addition, Stanley B. Herman appears as Uncle Hank in both films.

Mirror Usage

A mirror or reflective surface appears in almost all scenes throughout the movie. The most obvious scene where there is no reflection is the last scene where Nina plays Black Swan and her dark side takes over. It is not known whether this choice of the director is an indication that Nina has completed her transformation, but it seems certain that it was made on purpose.

Darren Aronofsky’s Inspirations

Aronofsky was influenced by many different sources throughout the creation of Black Swan. After reading the poem The Double: A Petersburg Poem written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, he came to the idea that such a film could be made. In addition, the 1986 film The Fly took its place in mind as one of the films that Aronofsky was influenced by. The biggest reason for this is that the black hairs growing from the scratch marks on Nina’s upper back contain similarities to the hairs from Seth Brundle’s upper back scratches in The Fly. In addition, the shape change in Nina’s body, the bending of her legs like a bird and the sticking of her toes reveal how much Nina’s mental transformation into Black Swan was affected by The Fly. Another source of inspiration for Aronofsky is probably 1948’s The Red Shoes. The similar ballet concept in both films and the death of the main characters is the biggest indicator of this. In addition, Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s role in the film is another proof of The Red Shoes effect, as The Red Shoes choreographer Robert Helpmann also plays a small role in the film.

Black Swan and The Wrestler Was One Movie

Director Darren Aronofsky’s first plan was to link Black Swan with The Wrestler, which he also directed, to tell the love story of a wrestler and a ballerina. However, he soon realized that these two stories, where the worlds of ballet and wrestling intersect, were too much for a single film and gave up on this idea.

Nina’s Clothing Colors and Their Meanings

The color of Nina’s clothes changes throughout the movie. The color use at the beginning of the movie is predominantly pink and white, which symbolizes Nina’s innocence and purity. After the party where Nina was introduced to the dance community, more neutral colors such as gray are used in Nina’s outfits. This symbolizes emotions such as neutrality, dullness and indecision. Then, with the worsening of the hallucinations, the color of the clothes also becomes black, showing Nina’s blurred mind and distorted reality. Such a storytelling through the colors of clothes deserves appreciation.

Nina and her Mother

According to a theory put forward by fans, Nina is sexually abused by her mother Erica, and there are two scenes in the movie that point to this situation. The first of these is Erica’s suspicious smile in Nina’s room as she asks her daughter, “Are you ready?” Another scene is when Lily addresses Nina as “sweet girl” just like her mother during sex. Then Lily’s face transforms into Erica and then into Nina, momentarily reflecting Nina’s subconscious. The fact that we later learned that Lily did not actually stay at Nina’s that night also supports this theory.

Is Nina Dead?

Although the director left it to the audience to see if Nina died or not, the bright white light on Nina’s face in the last scene may be an indication that our main character is dead. However, the location of Nina’s bleeding can also give serious clues about the end of the character. Portman told director Aronofsky that she was uncomfortable with the blood in the final scene because it looked like menstrual blood because it was between her legs. Aronofsky, on the other hand, said that he did this on purpose because he wanted to show the audience that Nina is now a “woman”. For this reason, Portman’s personal opinion is that Nina did not die, she just turned into a woman by killing the little girl inside her.

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