Black Swan (2010)

R | 108 or 110 mins | Drama | 3 December 2010

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HISTORY

A working title of the film was The Understudy . One of the costume credits reads: “Ballet Costumes by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.” The name of visual effects flame artist, David Geoghegan, was spelled Geoghagen onscreen. As noted in several news items, among them, a LAT dated 7 Dec 2010, the story is intentionally ambiguous, and it is not clear what events are supposed to have happened in the film and what are the delusions of the character, “Nina Sayers.” After Nina’s final line, the screen turns white. Although the film suggests that Nina dies at the end, her death is neither explicitly depicted, nor certain.
       According to the production notes, producer-director-writer Darren Aronofsky became intrigued with the ballet world after witnessing his sister’s experience as a ballet student. According to 31 Oct 2010 NYT and 17 Nov 2010 HR articles, he discussed the idea with Natalie Portman in 2001, when she was still in college, and she confided that she had wanted to make a film about ballet for many years. The 17 Nov 2010 HR article reported that Mike Medavoy’s Phoenix Pictures had offered Aronofsky a spec script by Andres Heinz titled, The Understudy , which depicted an off-Broadway rivalry between an actress and her understudy. Aronofsky initially turned it down, but later, according to studio production notes, had the idea to merge the story with a New York ballet setting.
       A 19 Jan 2007 DV news item reported that Universal acquired Black Swan , and that it would be produced by Protozoa and Phoenix. The same news item stated that ... More Less

A working title of the film was The Understudy . One of the costume credits reads: “Ballet Costumes by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.” The name of visual effects flame artist, David Geoghegan, was spelled Geoghagen onscreen. As noted in several news items, among them, a LAT dated 7 Dec 2010, the story is intentionally ambiguous, and it is not clear what events are supposed to have happened in the film and what are the delusions of the character, “Nina Sayers.” After Nina’s final line, the screen turns white. Although the film suggests that Nina dies at the end, her death is neither explicitly depicted, nor certain.
       According to the production notes, producer-director-writer Darren Aronofsky became intrigued with the ballet world after witnessing his sister’s experience as a ballet student. According to 31 Oct 2010 NYT and 17 Nov 2010 HR articles, he discussed the idea with Natalie Portman in 2001, when she was still in college, and she confided that she had wanted to make a film about ballet for many years. The 17 Nov 2010 HR article reported that Mike Medavoy’s Phoenix Pictures had offered Aronofsky a spec script by Andres Heinz titled, The Understudy , which depicted an off-Broadway rivalry between an actress and her understudy. Aronofsky initially turned it down, but later, according to studio production notes, had the idea to merge the story with a New York ballet setting.
       A 19 Jan 2007 DV news item reported that Universal acquired Black Swan , and that it would be produced by Protozoa and Phoenix. The same news item stated that Aronofsky’s partner, Eric Watson, would produce with Medavoy and Arnie Messer of Phoenix, and that John McLaughlin would write the script. The 17 Nov 2010 HR article reported that McLaughlin’s draft was submitted in 2006, but did not work out. After the success of the 2008 film, The Wrestler , and the stalling of a remake of Robocop , for which Aronofsky had been signed, the director returned to the ballet project. According to the 17 Nov 2010 HR article and the production notes, Mark Heyman, a co-producer of The Wrestler , further developed the idea by adding the Swan Lake themes. The same article reported that Protozoa and Phoenix re-acquired the rights from Universal and Portman became attached to the project, and that Aronofsky and Heyman wrote over twenty more drafts. The article reported that Overnight Films agreed to finance, but backed out four weeks before principal photography was scheduled. A 10 Nov 2009 HR news item reported that Fox Searchlight had entered final negotiations to co-finance and distribute the film with Cross Creek Pictures. The 17 Nov 2010 HR article stated that Fox agreed to the project the day before shooting began.
       According to the production notes, Portman had taken ballet as a child, but doubles were used for the dancing sequences. However, for close-ups, she had to acquire the look and movement of a ballerina in the head, arms and upper body. To prepare for the role, she trained daily for months before production with Mary Helen Bowers of the New York City Ballet and other dancers. In addition to ballet, her training included swimming, weights and cross training. According to the 31 Oct 2010 LAT article, Portman trained while working on another film, Your Highness , in Belfast, Ireland. Mila Kunis, who portrayed “Lily,” had never taken ballet lessons and also trained. Both women sustained injuries, such as torn ligaments, dislocated ribs and shoulders, during the making of the film.
       According to production notes, Aronofsky recruited Benjamin Millepied, a dancer with the New York City ballet, to choreograph and portray the part of “David/The Prince.” Among the other dance coaches working on the film were Marina Stavitskaya, Olga Kostritsky, and Georgina Parkinson, who died two weeks before filming was complete. Members of the Pennsylvania Ballet portrayed the dance corp.
       Barbara Hershey, who portrayed Nina’s mother, “Erica Sayers,” was cast about a week before production, according to her 1 Dec 2010 LAT interview. She was working in London on a television version of the Agatha Christie story, Murder on the Orient Express , and as her scenes in Black Swan were not filmed until near the end of principal photography, Aronofsky asked her to write two letters to Nina as Erica. According to the production notes, Aronofsky gave the letters to Portman at key times during filming.
       The production notes state that shooting began outside Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and several other New York City locations were used in the film. Nina and Erica’s apartment was located near Prospect Park and the nightclub sequence was shot at Santos Party House in Chinatown, New York, according to a Dec 2010 AmCin article. According to a Dec 2010 AmCin article, ballet sequences were shot at State University of New York at Purchase College where actor-dancer-choreographer Bob Fosse shot portions of the 1979 film, All That Jazz (see entry).
       The production notes and the 17 Nov 2010 HR article reported that three hundred visual effects were used in the film. According to the production notes, to capture a “visceral view of ballet,” the crew used handheld cameras. They worked with mirrors, which, as Aronofsky noted in the production notes, are “everywhere” in the “world of ballet.” In the 17 Nov 2010 HR article, Aronofsky stated that the filmmakers manipulated mirrors to “add to the creepiness” of the film. According to a 6 Sep 2010 Var article, cinematographer Matthew Libatique shot Nina’s reflections on darker surfaces to suggest her darker alter ego. The same article and the production notes state that art director Thérèse DePrez, and costume designer Amy Westcott, worked with mostly black, gray and pink colors. At the beginning of the film, Nina is dressed in gray and pink, and as her personality transforms, her clothing gets darker.
       To add to the feeling of suspense, composer Clint Mansell added horror film-type sounds to his score. As noted in the production notes, the foundation of his soundtrack are themes from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Swan Lake , from which he uses rhythms, melodies and progressions, but rebuilds them in a more modern, minimalist fashion. The 17 Nov 2010 DV article described his score as “a remarkable morphing of the original into something verging on music horror.” In the production notes he reported that some of the music was written before production began so that sequences could be shot to the music, while other passages were written as dailies arrived. The final recording sessions were undertaken in London with a seventy-seven-piece orchestra.
       In the production notes and interviews, Aronofsky stated that he intended Black Swan to be a companion piece to his 2008 film, The Wrestler (see entry). He explained that the two films share the themes of “bodily extremes” and both present protagonists as lonely, battered “souls in turmoil.” In the production notes, he noted that people consider wrestling “the lowest of art forms” and ballet the highest, but both arts use bodies for expression and the bodies are under constant threat of injury.
       Black Swan opened the Venice Film Festival. According to a 13 Sep 2010 LAT article, a trailer for the film depicting the sex scene between Nina and Lily was shown on the website, YouTube, and got 1.3 million hits. According to a 7 Dec 2010 LAT news item, Black Swan ’s reception among critics seemed to produce “a generational fault line” in that critics fifty and younger embraced the film, while older critics did not. The reporter suggested that the ambiguity of the film, combined with its lack of “subtlety and quiet” may have been the reason for its dismissal by the older generation.
       In addition to being named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year, Black Swan was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. Portman won the Academy Award for Best Actress. As noted in 17 Nov 2010 and 21 Dec 2010 Var articles, Clint Mansell’s score, which incorporated themes from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet, was ruled ineligible for Academy Award consideration by the Academy’s music-branch executive committee because it contained large portions of pre-composed music. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Portman) and was nominated for Best Director, Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama (Kunis). SAG nominated the film for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Kunis), and awarded Portman an award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. The film won Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematographer and Best Female Lead (Portman). Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy and Brian Oliver were nominated by PGA for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. Aronofsky was nominated by the DGA for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and Heyman, McLaughlin and Heinz were nominated by WGA for Best Original Screenplay. The Art Directors Guild (ADG) awarded production designer Thérèse DePrez an Excellence in Production Design Awards for Best Art Direction in a Contemporary Film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Dec 2010.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jan 2007.
---
Daily Variety
17 Nov 2010
Section A, pp. 17, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 2009.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 2010
pp. 51-53.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Sep 2010
Section D, pp. 1, 9.
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Dec 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Dec 2010
p. 1.
New York Times
31 Oct 2010.
---
New York Times
3 Dec 2010
p. 1.
Variety
6 Sep 2010.
---
Variety
21 Dec 2010
p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Film by Darren Aronofsky
Made in association with Dune Entertainment
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Cranes and dollies by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam loader
Video assist
Addl video assist
Gaffer
Gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Best boy rigging elec
Best boy elec
Company elec
Company elec
Company elec
Company elec
Const elec
Dimmer board op
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Rigging key grip
Rigging best boy grip
Cam intern
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Graphic artist
Art dept prod asst
Art dept intern
Art dept intern
Art dept intern
Storyboards
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Post prod supv
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Post prod asst
Post prod facilities provided by
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Charge scenic
Cam scenic
Scenic foreman
Scenic foreman
Scenic
Scenic
Scenic
Set dress foreman
Set dresser
On set dresser
Const coord
Const foreman
Best boy const grip
Key carpenter
Const prod asst
Set intern
Set intern
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ballet cost des, Rodarte
Ballet cost des, Rodarte
Ballet cost
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Set cost
Set cost
Set cost
Addl set cost
Addl set cost
Ward prod asst
Ward intern
Ward intern
MUSIC
Orig score by
Mus supv
Mus supv
Mus ed
Assoc mus ed
Score cond & orch by
Score contracted by
Asst score orch contractor
Score preparations by
Score preparations by
Score rec and mixed by
Score rec & mixed at
Asst eng
Tech asst/Guitar viol
Mus consultant
Solo violin
Solo violin
Addl prod by
Midi preparation
Rec artist liaison
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom person
Addl boom person
Addl boom person
Cable person
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd des
Sd des
Supv dial & ADR ed
SFX ed
Foley artist
Foley rec
Foley asst
SFX rec
SFX rec
Mix eng
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Post prod sd facility
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Visual eff prod
Club images manipulated and des
Assoc prod [Club images]
Spec eff coord
Spec eff tech
Visual eff by
Addl visual eff supv, Look Effects
Addl visual eff prod, Look Effects
Visual eff coord, Look Effects
Visual eff coord, Look Effects
Visual eff coord, Look Effects
3D supv, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
3D artist, Look Effects
2D supv, Look Effects
2D supv Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Digital compositor, Look Effects
Roto/Paint, Look Effects
Roto/Paint, Look Effects
Roto/Paint, Look Effects
Roto/Paint, Look Effects
Roto/Paint, Look Effects
Flame artist, Look Effects
Flame artist, Look Effects
Flame artist, Look Effects
Visual eff ed, Look Effects
Visual eff ed, Look Effects
Data management, Look Effects
Data management, Look Effects
President Look FX
Visual eff exec prod, Look Effects
Main and end titles des by
Main and end titles des by
Digital imaging
Digital imaging
Digital imaging
Addl visual eff
VFX compositor
VFX compositor
VFX compositor
VFX compositor
VFX prod
VFX artist
Film scanning & rec
DANCE
Ballet choreog by
Assoc choreog
Head trainer
Male trainer
Trainer for Ms. Portman
Trainer for Ms. Kunis
On set ballet consultant
Ballet coord
Pennsylvania Ballet liaison
Ballet consultant
Ballet consultant
Ballet consultant
Ballet consultant
Ballet consultant
Ballet consultant
Ballet consultant
MAKEUP
Make-up des
Make-up dept head
Key make-up
Addl make-up
Addl make-up
Prosthetic make-up des
Silicone specialist
Spec FX make-up asst
Spec FX make-up tech
Hair des
Hair dept head
Key hair stylist
Addl hair stylist
Addl hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Casting asst
NY casting
NY casting
Background casting
Background casting
Background casting asst
Voice casting
Voice casting
Prod supv
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc asst
Unit prod asst
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc intern
Loc intern
Parking coord
Prod secy
Office prod asst
Asst to Mr. Aronofsky
Asst to Mr. Franklin
Asst to the prods
Asst to Mr. Medavoy & Mr. Messer
Asst to Ms. Portman
1st team prod asst
Background prod asst
Walkie prod asst
Paperwork prod asst
Addl prod asst
Addl prod asst
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accounting
Payroll accountant
Post prod accounting
Post prod accounting
Post prod accounting
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Transportation office mgr
Security supv
Catering
Craft service
Product placement coord
Fine art adv
Stage mgr, Theatrical unit
Chief lighting, Theatrical unit
Follow spot op, Theatrical unit
Follow spot op, Theatrical unit
Follow spot op, Theatrical unit
Dimmer board op, Theatrical unit
House sd, Theatrical unit
House flyman, Theatrical unit
House flyman, Theatrical unit
House flyman, Theatrical unit
House flyman, Theatrical unit
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Prod intern
Contact lens consultant
Personal coach for Mr. Cassel
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Lab processing & dailies
Dailies colorist
Dailies project mgr
Canon 7D dailies adv
Post facility supv
Digital intermediate
Digital intermediate project mgr
Digital intermediate prod
Digital intermediate colorist
Digital intermediate ed
Data mgr
Digital intermediate eng
SOURCES
MUSIC
Music from Swan Lake composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, adapted and arranged by Clint Mansell & Matt Dunkley.
SONGS
"Apotheosis," written and performed by Pete Min, contains "Swan Lake" written by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"Danka Jane," written by Tom Rowlands, performed by The Chemical Brothers, The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"Outside The Lines," written by Praveen Sharma and Travis Stewart, performed by Sepalcure (featuring Angelica Bess), courtesy of Hotflush Recordings, contains "Swan Lake" written by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
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SONGS
"Apotheosis," written and performed by Pete Min, contains "Swan Lake" written by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"Danka Jane," written by Tom Rowlands, performed by The Chemical Brothers, The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"Outside The Lines," written by Praveen Sharma and Travis Stewart, performed by Sepalcure (featuring Angelica Bess), courtesy of Hotflush Recordings, contains "Swan Lake" written by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"The White Easton," written by Alec Storey, performed by Al Tourettes, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"Illicit Dreaming," written by Jamie Kavanagh, performed by Kavsrave, courtesy of Tighten Up Records, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"Electric Hands," written by Tom Rowlands, performed by The Chemical Brothers, The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"The Nina Frequency," written by Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, performed by The Chemical Brothers, The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
"Dark Sygnet," written by Jermaine Troy Jacob, performed by Jakes, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
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DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Understudy
Release Date:
3 December 2010
Premiere Information:
Venice Film Festival screening: 1 September 2010
Telluride Film Festival screening: 5 September 2010
Production Date:
7 December 2009--11 February 2010
Copyright Claimants:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Dune Entertainment III LLC CCP Black Swan Investments, LLC
Copyright Dates:
1 December 2010 1 December 2010 1 December 2010
Copyright Numbers:
PA1709015 PA1709015 PA1709015
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
Prints by Deluxe; Filmed with ARRI CSC cameras & lenses
Duration(in mins):
108 or 110
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
46261
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Nina Sayers, a soloist in a New York dance company, lives a sheltered existence, single-mindedly dedicated to perfecting her technique. Her mother, Erica, danced in the ballet chorus until she became pregnant and now lives vicariously through Nina’s career. Over-protective yet envious, Erica smothers Nina, who still keeps stuffed animals and a child’s ballerina music box in her pink bedroom. Although the discipline of the dance and Erica’s obsessive hovering has kept Nina innocently sweet, she increasingly sees images of a darker version of herself projected onto the faces of strangers and hears voices that laugh and taunt her. One morning Nina awakens from a dream that she is dancing the coveted role of the “Swan Queen.” Later, at the theater, the troupe is abuzz with gossip that company director, Thomas Leroy, is replacing Beth Macintyre, the forty-ish principal dancer who is also his lover. During rehearsal, Thomas confirms the rumor by announcing that the troupe’s new season will open with the classic, Swan Lake , and that he will cast fresh talent in the dual role of the “White Swan” and the “Black Swan.” As the dancers warm up, Thomas briefly reviews the ballet’s story of a virginal girl trapped in a swan’s body by a spell only true love can break. He says that the prince who loves her is tricked and seduced by her lustful twin, a black swan, causing the devastated white swan to leap off a cliff, where in death she finds freedom. That afternoon Nina sneaks into the dressing room of Beth, who she admires, and steals her lipstick. At Nina’s ... +


Nina Sayers, a soloist in a New York dance company, lives a sheltered existence, single-mindedly dedicated to perfecting her technique. Her mother, Erica, danced in the ballet chorus until she became pregnant and now lives vicariously through Nina’s career. Over-protective yet envious, Erica smothers Nina, who still keeps stuffed animals and a child’s ballerina music box in her pink bedroom. Although the discipline of the dance and Erica’s obsessive hovering has kept Nina innocently sweet, she increasingly sees images of a darker version of herself projected onto the faces of strangers and hears voices that laugh and taunt her. One morning Nina awakens from a dream that she is dancing the coveted role of the “Swan Queen.” Later, at the theater, the troupe is abuzz with gossip that company director, Thomas Leroy, is replacing Beth Macintyre, the forty-ish principal dancer who is also his lover. During rehearsal, Thomas confirms the rumor by announcing that the troupe’s new season will open with the classic, Swan Lake , and that he will cast fresh talent in the dual role of the “White Swan” and the “Black Swan.” As the dancers warm up, Thomas briefly reviews the ballet’s story of a virginal girl trapped in a swan’s body by a spell only true love can break. He says that the prince who loves her is tricked and seduced by her lustful twin, a black swan, causing the devastated white swan to leap off a cliff, where in death she finds freedom. That afternoon Nina sneaks into the dressing room of Beth, who she admires, and steals her lipstick. At Nina’s audition, Thomas says she is ideal for the White Swan but he doubts she can portray the Black Swan. As Nina dances, he tells her to “lose control” and seduce the audience, but her performance is interrupted by Lily, a new dancer to the company who bursts into the room and causes Nina to lose concentration. The next day, Nina meets with Thomas to ask for the role, but he says he has chosen another dancer. He tells Nina that she is beautiful, fearful and fragile, but that perfection is not about control and she never loses herself in the dance. He then kisses her passionately, but, startled, she bites him, apologizes and leaves. Later, Nina learns that she has been cast as the Swan Queen. After vomiting in a toilet stall, she calls Erica to tell her the news, and then is upset to see the word, “whore,” scrawled in red across the restroom mirror. To celebrate, Erica buys a huge cake for the two of them, but Nina is too nervous to enjoy it. However, because her refusal makes Erica hurt and angry, Nina forces herself to eat. Another day while rehearsing with David, the dancer portraying “The Prince,” Thomas again urges Nina to embody the evil twin. During Nina’s break, she watches Lily dance with exuberance and Thomas points out that Lily is imprecise but effortless. At an event for ballet supporters, Thomas announces Beth’s retirement and introduces Nina. Afterward, Nina takes refuge in the toilet, where Lily finds her and tries unsuccessfully to initiate a conversation. Outside, a drunken Beth confronts Nina and bitterly suggests that she traded sexual favors to get the role. Thomas invites Nina to his apartment for a drink, where he asks Nina intrusive questions about her sexual history. When she demurs, he instructs her to go home and “touch” herself in order to relax. At home, Erica insists on helping Nina undress and, discovering scratch marks on her back from a nervous habit, cuts Nina’s fingernails. Early the next morning, Nina attempts to masturbate as Thomas advised, but discovers that Erica has fallen asleep in a chair in her room. That day, Nina learns that Beth has been hospitalized after being hit by a car. Thomas tells Nina that he suspects Beth caused the accident, because she acts on dark impulses, and adds that the dark side may be the reason that her dancing was thrilling to watch. During her rehearsal with David, Thomas calls Nina’s dancing “frigid,” then detains her when the others leave. He has her dance with him and, asking her to respond to the touch of his roving hand, kisses her passionately. After she is feverish with desire, he stops, tells her to do the seducing and departs. Left alone, Nina is weeping when Lily enters and, breaking rules, smokes. Although Nina is reticent about her troubles, Lily suggests that Thomas is a “prick” and when Nina defends him, Lily teases that she is attracted to him. That night in her bath, Nina touches herself, but has a frightening vision of blood and of someone, perhaps herself, floating prostrate above her. At the next rehearsal, Thomas accuses Nina of whining to Lily. Incensed, Nina confronts Lily, who defends herself, saying that she told Thomas to ease up on Nina. At home that night, Erica demands to look at the scratches on Nina’s back, but Nina refuses. Unexpectedly, Lily arrives to apologize and, against Erica’s wishes, Nina goes to dinner with her. Nina watches Lily flirt with the waiter and, at a nightclub, discovers she has picked up two men. To help her relax, Lily spikes Nina’s drink, promising the drug’s effect will last only a couple hours. The drug frees Nina, who dances seductively with Lily and the men, then finds herself engaged in sex with a stranger in the toilet. She runs out to hail a cab, and Lily follows. When Nina arrives home, she demands privacy and pulls Lily into her bedroom, where they kiss passionately. As the two have frenzied sex, Nina sees herself instead of Lily, but the spell is quickly broken and she loses herself in an orgasm. When she awakens the next morning, Lily is not there. Rushing to the theater, Nina finds Lily filling in for her, dancing the Swan Queen. Denying that she went home with Nina, Lily teases Nina for fantasizing about her. Throughout the day, Nina becomes increasingly paranoid about Lily and vomits, and that evening, she throws her stuffed animals in the garbage chute. The day before the opening performance, Nina rehearses the death of the White Swan, in which she drops into a pit onto a cushion. As she has her costume fitted, Nina imagines that her reflection in the mirror moves independently of her. When Thomas chooses Lily as her alternate, Nina begs him to choose another, arguing that Lily wants to replace her. Amused, Thomas says everyone wants Nina’s role and tells her, “Tomorrow is yours.” That night, Nina remains at the theater practicing relentlessly until the piano player refuses to continue. While she is alone in the rehearsal room, someone turns off the theater’s master switch and the room goes dark. Believing she hears laughter and movement, Nina follows the sound to the stage, where she thinks she sees Thomas and Lily making frantic love. Nina runs to her dressing room, grabs several items that she purloined from Beth and proceeds to her hospital room. There she lays out earrings, a nail file, a small bottle of cologne, a packet of cigarettes and lipstick. Awakening, Beth accuses her of stealing her belongings, but Nina apologizes and explains that she wants to be perfect like her. Beth says she is not perfect, then repeatedly stabs herself in the face with the nail file. Nina struggles to stop her, but then runs to the elevator where she finds the bloody nail file in her hand. After she returns home, Beth appears to her, but she is only in Nina’s imagination. Believing she hears Erica crying, Nina enters her bedroom, where faces in the portraits in the room talk to her all at once. She thinks she sees Beth again, but realizes it is Erica. After locking herself in her own bedroom, Nina looks in the mirror and sees her eyes turning red. She pulls little black feathers from the scratch wounds on her back. Concerned, Erica breaks through the door’s lock, but Nina repeatedly slams the door on her hand. After pushing Erica out, Nina’s body contorts and her legs bend backward like a swan’s, which causes her to fall and hit her head. The next morning, she awakens late in the day and finds that Erica has her locked in her room and has told the company that she is ill. Nina fights her for the key and proceeds to the theater, where Thomas has already asked Lily to perform in her stead. However, when Nina insists that she will perform, Thomas tells her Nina that she stands in her own way and advises that she lose herself. As she dresses, Nina imagines that her toes are webbing. On cue, she enters the stage and dances the White Swan. From the wings, she thinks she sees Lily caressing The Prince. When Nina and The Prince dance together, he drops her, but Nina continues dancing behind tears. Between acts, Nina finds Lily in her dressing room. Lily says Nina is not up to dancing the Black Swan, and her face turns into Nina’s face. Nina pushes Lily into a full length mirror, which breaks. As they struggle, Nina insists that it is her turn. With a glass shard from the mirror, Nina stabs Lily in the stomach, killing her, then hides the body in the shower. As she enters the stage for the next act as the Black Swan, Nina’s eyes turn red. Fearsome and free, she seduces The Prince and the audience cheers. Backstage as she waits for her cue, Nina feels her arms grow black feathers. As she takes a bow after the act, the crowd calls her name. Backstage, she kisses Thomas passionately, then returns to her dressing room to prepare for the last act. Seeing blood seeping out of the shower room, Nina covers it with a towel and begins dressing as the White Swan. A knock at the door proves to be Lily, who wants to congratulate her on her performance. Acknowledging the problems between them, Lily apologizes before she leaves. Confused, Nina looks under the towel and sees no blood, and there is no one in the shower. Upon discovering a hole in her costume, Nina pulls a glass shard out of her stomach, but returns to the stage for the final act. For the death scene of the White Swan, Nina falls onto the cushion, as the audience and other performers cheer. When the audience repeatedly calls her name, Thomas urges Nina to return to the stage for a bow. Lily is the first to see the growing blood stain at Nina’s stomach and gasps. Thomas asks Nina what she has done to herself and Nina responds, “I felt it. I was perfect.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.