Black Swan

Now that you’ve seen The Wrestler (2008) and Black Swan (2010), we can begin making a case for the director Darren Aronofsky as an “auteur.”  Pick one scene, theme, technical choice, or even a single detail from each film and discuss how their similarity relates to Aronofsky’s vision as a filmmaker.  Respond in 50 words by Thursday morning at 9 am.

40 thoughts on “Black Swan

  1. Darren Aronofsky really likes when his main character suffers. This seems a common theme in Black Swan and The Wrestler, where Randy and Nina both drive themselves to such an obsessive point that it ends up killing them, or does it? The end of both films are open to interpretation. But what does seem to be a lasting statement is how naive both characters are at the beginning of their films. Now, Black Swan has a more psychedelic feel than The Wrestler, but Randy and Nina both live in their own little fantasy worlds, which never seems to do them any good.

  2. Fighting off pain seems to be a familiar factor in both of these films. Randy fought against the growing chest pains while Nina suffered from her own self-induced injuries. Both characters are being brought down by their own drive to be something brilliant. The pain they’re fighting fuels the anger inside them, bringing them down more and more until they finally achieve their goals, though at the cost of their lives…supposedly, at least.

  3. One thing that both movies have in common is that the main character is somehow both a villain and a victim. In the Wrestler, you feel bad for Randy and sympathize with him through hard situations even though he can be cruel at times and puts having a night of fun over reconnecting with his daughter. In Black Swan, you sympathize with Nina’s struggle to be perfect and escape her overprotective mother even though she steals from Beth and breaks her mother’s hand.

  4. Instead of casting light in an attempt to reveal optimism on a tough situation or event, Aronofsky seems to do the opposite. His use of high contrast lighting and creation of dark shadows contribute to the grit, grunge, and fragility of both The Wrestler and Black Swan.

  5. What I noticed a lot of is his tracking, handheld camera shots. He often follows behind with a shaky camera to show uneasiness or uncertainty and shows a lot of closeups of the characters in their preparation or in the performances to show everything that they would see and not what the audience would see

  6. Aronofsky isn’t afraid to show the dirt of the world, literally. I’ve noticed with Aronofsky’s set direction that he isn’t afraid to show realistic environments making things look dirty where they need to. His direction shows how he has an eye for details to make a more realistic film as a whole

  7. A central theme of mental illness is implied to directly correlate with the symptomatic decay of the main character’s bodies. Aronofsky uses gore to disturb the audience, featuring motifs of blood and persistent pain. This reveals the intense neurosis our characters experience as they descend into a type of obsession-driven madness by the end of the films.

  8. Both main characters are engaged in complicated relationships that help them achieve their dreams and also aide in their destruction. The one sided relationship between Randy and Cassidy is the driving reason behind his reunion with his daughter, but her hesitance in pursuing a relationship pushes him back into the ring. In black Swan, Thomas pushes Nina to perfection while inadvertently exacerbating her mental illness.

  9. Both of the films end with the protagonist dying for their craft and the final moments of both Randy and Nina are very similar. Both athletes realize that they are probably going to die, continue what they are doing so they can reach the pinnacle of their craft, give a final goodbye to the crowd, and then fall from a high hight. The ending for both films is left open to interpretation as to whether the protagonist lives or dies.

  10. Both of Aronofsky’s films involve a protagonist who is extremely dedicated to his/her work. This theme is evident in the final moments of each film. Both Randy (presumably) and Nina die pursuing the only thing that gives their lives meaning. In the end the thing they love the most ends up being their downfall.

  11. One thing I notice about Darren Aronofsky”d directing style as an “auteur” is his use of visual close-ups on the faces of his main characters. This is usually don by directors in order to highlight a character’s reaction to something in the film, but Aronofsky seems to be extraordinarily attached to the extreme close-up shot of the main character’s face, going so far as to use this particular technique during tracking and Dooley shots of his main chatqvter’s just walking around from one place to another. This technique gives the viewer an insight as to how the character is feeling and what they are thinking during a particular scene in the films .

  12. Both of these films seem to have a general theme in which both characters seem to be ignoring their pain that is very prevalent in their lives. This causes the characters’ downfall at the end of their movies. With Randy, he seems to want to disregard his chest pains in order to reach the height of his career. He wants to become the greatest wrestler that there is. With Nina, she wants to ignore her self-induced injuries that she continues to suffer from. She wants to become the best ballerina that she can be in order to achieve the highest praise that one in her field can obtain. Both of these characters seem to go through similar struggling situations.

  13. One thing I noticed was the camera work in a specific scene. When Nina gets on the train it contains the same type of camera work that is all over The Wrestler. The shaky close up of Nina’s head seems to be one of Aronofsky’s go to shots and it was one of the elements that I immediately noticed.

  14. Darren Aronofsky is a very creative director. In both his movie The Wrestler and Black Swan it is evident that he likes to incorporate a theme of pain. This theme adds a lot of value to any film because it allows the views to empathize with the characters. However, within both movies this idea of pain also causes the characters fall. A parallel to the concept of pain within each movie is the theme of love. These both work together to exemplify emotions, and add value to the movie as a whole.

  15. Both Black Swan and the Wrestler both center on artists who are unhealthily committed to their craft. At the end of both films, the protagonist is destroyed in their final crescendo as an artist. The main difference is that while Randy teeters on the edge of obsession and comes to terms with the fact that he uses wrestling as a source of comfort and escape while things are bad in his life, Nina is committed towards becoming the perfect performer and does nothing to moderate her obsession, which eventually leads to her demise.

  16. Darren Aranofsky has made it very clear that he likes to put his characters in emotional turmoil and distress, tortured by their own ways. In “The Wrestler” Randy tried to reconnect with his family, his daughter specifically, but he messes it up, and his relationship with Marissa Tomei’s character. In “Black Swan” Nina torments herself with her presumably schizophrenic hallucenations. she imagines people who aren’t actually there, destroys her relationship with her mother, and projects the worse half of herself as her fellow ballerina, who she kills, which means she actually killed herself, while having waking nightmares about her body contorting in to a literal black swan. There is an unhealthy level of dedication each of these characters have to their respective art forms, to the point of suicide.

  17. Darren Aronofsky ended both of these movies in the same fashion. Both main characters destroy themselves for their craft. The ultimate ending for both happen at the climax of their final performance. Both characters struggle and suffer through the entire movie, which leads both of them to their bursting point.

  18. Both of Darren Aronofsky’s films showcase the main characters love for their crafts. Nina’s love for dance and Randy’s love for wrestling. The viewer can feel how intense their love for their talents. Nina and Randy are willing to die doing what they love and ultimately, they may have. Just as Aronofky is passionate about making films, so is Nina and Randy about their skills.

  19. Both Aronofsky films seem to focus intently on the main character and their obsession with what they do to the point of mental breakdowns and ultimately destroying themselves. I believe that Nina’s psychological breakdown is more apparent in Black Swan because the point of view is mostly Nina’s. Aronofsky likes to build up his characters as successful, only to bring them down at what should have been their most successful. Its almost similar to Greek Tragedy in that way.

  20. Darren Aronofsky’s ability to be an auteur is very clear through his subtle connections within his films and their intensity. In this example here when comparing “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan” it is clear to the viewer that Aronofsky likes to pursue a main character that is struggling in life and show their ability to overcome or at least attempt to overcome this trait. The parallel between “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan” I noticed was the living situation of the main characters in each film. They seemed to both live in poverty whether the beat up trailer Randy lived in or the small run down apartment like Nina and her shielding mother lived in.

  21. Aronofsky makes gender a very important role in both The Wrestler and Black Swan. Randy is a super masculine character while Nina is a super feminine character. Each of them are on completely different levels in their careers. Randy knows he isn’t the man he used to be and this makes him uncomfortable and angry. Nina doesn’t know if she can become the woman that he and her mother wants her to be. This comparison shows how Aronofsky is using the same idea but mixing it up and it shows important similarities and differences in both films.

  22. Both Black Swan and The Wrestler have a documentary feel to them. There is the use of shaky, handheld camera techniques in both films. The camera tends to track along with both of the protagonists as if the audience were there with them, and allows the audience to see them as real people, not just characters in a film.

  23. In both Aronofskys films The Wrestler and Black Swan it is apparent that in both movies Aronofsky centers the main characters around a central theme of hardship. He portrays both Randy and Nina as individuals who are both unhealthily committed to their profession. Nina struggles with her self-induced injuries in comparison to Randy fighting off chest pains, both going through this pain and suffering by their own drive and compassion to be something they want people to remember. These movies are ended in the same aspect of both characters finally achieving their goals, however immensely destroying themselves in the process.

  24. One similarity between the film The Wrestler and Black Swan by Aronofsky, is that both main characters are driven by a sort of obsession with their career. Some could argue that it is passion the characters express, but rather their effort to be the best is arguably an obsession. Towards the end of both films, it is seen how their obsessive behavior brings about their own undoing. At least they both go out doing what they love.

  25. In comparing the two films, one theme I noticed was that both Randy and Nina faced family issues outside of their careers. In The Wrester, Randy tried to reconnect with his daughter. In Black Swan, Nina was under her mother’s control. They are similar because both characters failed to resolve those issues at the end of the two films.

  26. Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and Black Swan carry a theme of self-exploration and personal tribulations. Through carefully thought-out camerawork, we are often carried throughout the film behind the shoulder or through the eyes of the protagonist; Therefore, the viewer is drawn to the significance of each “slice of life” as Aronofsky strategically presents it.

  27. In the Wrestler and Black Swan, both Randy and Nina put themselves in stressful and potential life threatening situations, both at work and during their leisure time. The characters are risking their physical and mental health by continuing their respected lifestyle. Darren Aronofsky uses both Randy and Nina as examples to show how over commitment to a job or lifestyle can be fatal.

  28. I noticed that in both Black Swan and the Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky gives both of the characters a low self esteem as well as other serious mental/emotional issues which causes them to be overly and recklessly involved with their work because they were trying to articulate said issues through their craft. However, they never were able to work through it and that let to both of their demises.

  29. In both The Wrestler and Black Swan, Aronofsky utilizes the handheld camera technique to make his characters seem more human and flawed. This technique allows the audience to see his characters from a raw, highly personal perspective. In both films, his almost documentary-like filming style allows the audience to peak into his characters lives in an intimate manor; while maintaining an polished look to the overall film.

  30. One similarity between Black Swan and The Wrestler is that both of the main characters suffer throughout the whole movie. Aronofsky makes these characters reach their lowest point and bring them back up to an all time high before what the audience interprets as, the main characters dying while doing what they love.

  31. Throughout both Black Swan and The Wrestlers, the two main characters both are experiencing turmoil, but they will not or cannot admit that they are because it will prevent them from thriving in their career. Aronofsky shows the struggle of giving up something that you love for the benefit of your health, safety, or happiness.

  32. The most striking similarity between Black Swan and The Wrestler is the camerawork. The constant close proximity to the main characters keeps the audience locked in with the character’s mind and perspective, and allows them to truly get into the main characters head, really letting them know exactly what the character is experiencing and focusing on.

  33. The detail that jumped out at me is how both of Aronofsky’s characters shrug off pain. They’re both so consumed by their obsession that they’re willing to shrug off any harm to their bodies. Both movies are about passion, but more than that they are about passion that becomes deleterious obsession. Aronofsky wants to illustrate how these characters use their bodies to express themselves, even though it hurts.

  34. One theme in The Wrestler and Black Swan is the struggle of a talented athlete to achieve perfection. Aronofsky focus a lot on these human challenges, particularly the struggle between success and relationships. Another part of Aronofsky’s auteur is how both films end with the main character jumping and almost flying through midair in slow motion. Towards the end of Black Swan, I was able to predict that Aronofsky would end the film in a similar way as The Wrestler because it is part of his style.

  35. Aronofsky likes to use obsession as a crux for his protagonists, Randy and Nina both put so much into their craft that they intentionally ignore the pain they’re experiencing in order to achieve something more. Nina wants to achieve perfection, and Randy wants to reclaim his fame, and they both seem to achieve their goals by the end, but was it truly worth it?

  36. One thing that both films have in common is that they both have lead characters that ignore the warning about their eventua doom. In The Wrestler, Randy is warned by doctors that he shouldn’t continue his wrestling career but he does so anyways after getting tired of his mundane life. In Black Swan, Nina sees Beth, a retired ballerina, who has clearly been mentally drained from her work. Nina ignores this and gets the role of Swan Queen, learning too late the price shell have to pay for artistic perfection.
    Another small similarity with camera work is when the character is shown from behind and the camera follows them, like when Randy walks through a hallway and to a trailer park, and Nina walks to the ballet venue.

  37. Aronofsky does a great job in both films illustrating that both film’s main character is someway both a victim and a villain. In the Black swan, you can see Nina’s problems unfold as she try’s to portray a perfect image, while she tries to get away from her mother. Having a mother like the one in the film you can definitely be put in a state of mind that will cause you to negatively impact your own life. In the Wrestler, you can also see Randy’s struggles clearly as he fights to portray the image that he use to have. You can definitely have sympathy for randy throughout the movie but he does bring the pain unto himself. Instead of trying to reconnect with his daughter he puts his self in situations that will negatively impact him in the end.

  38. A common theme throughout both of these movies is the focus on the main character and their struggle, perseverance, pain, and passion. He does so mainly by the camera work, with tons of close ups and lots of tracking, it gives the audience a close and personal feeling that helps them relate to what the character is going though. He highlights and emphasized the pain and misery they endure to produce that incredibly determined and hardworking feeling these characters have.

  39. When I watch the two films, one of the biggest similarities I notice is the almost similar plot difference. You have two stories in which a person’s job or profession, which once was helpful and actually providing for them, has now become a burden that may or may not drive them over the edge. Aronofsky seems to have this ongoing theme of struggle throughout his films in which the main character appears as a victim, but is never a complete saint either.

  40. In Aronofsky’s films, his choices of lighting coincide with his theme of fragility and vulnerability of the main characters of the movie. This is achieved by the use of high contrast lighting throughout the movies allowing a more raw picture to be conveyed to the audience almost in a sense that noting is being edited to deceive the audience.

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