Black Swan Effects

Last night I finally saw Black Swan (I say ‘finally’, to be honest given my inability to see films quickly, watching it within 3 weeks of its release is pretty speedy) and after writing about the sensibilities surrounding it a week ago, I felt it was only fair to provide my own opinion.

Although one good friend found the film deeply traumatising, I was confident that several years of being subjected to horror films would mean that I’d cope fairly well. However, those years never took away my hatred of masks or scary faces, so an opening dream sequence involving a particularly scary evil sorcerer with flashing green eyes had me on edge whenever weird faces appeared – but it wasn’t so bad, apart from some moving paintings.

Traumatised friend’s big issue with it was that it ought to have been an 18, not a 15. Honestly, I’d have to disagree – the sex scenes aren’t graphic (and, importantly for the BBFC, don’t include any male nudity or any nudity below the waist actually), there’s little swearing and what blood there is would pale in comparison to a typical episode of ER. The darkness of the film is psychological, with Portman’s character spiralling out of control making for fascinating viewing, while the relationship with her mother had me gasping. (And giggling – during one particularly intimate scene, but I’d hate to spoil it…) All in all not un-typical of a post-watershed TV drama.

The bottom line is that despite (or perhaps because of) the tension, the film is utterly captivating. The dancing got me from the outset and is fabulous. The cinematography is something else, with some scenes filmed so that you felt you were literally stood right behind Portman’s head, walking behind her. Obviously, the acting’s pretty hot too, I always think it must be an actor’s dream to play a character that’s completely mad – though it’s a challenge to pull it off well and this cast does.

Not the most exciting photo from the film, but it has relevance later…
Oh, and can someone explain why she’s only got one leg-warmer on? 

That’s the serious bit out of the way – what really amused me about the whole evening was what happened afterwards, which can (and has) be identified via the Twitter hashtag #effectsofblackswan. [Ok, so only two of us have used it, but it could take off…]

The predictable aftermath was that I had an almost uncontrollable urge to dance. Walking round Tesco I found myself at odd moments standing with my feet in 4th position, plie-ing gently or randomly standing on my toes. Also predictable was that my Orange Wednesday companion was whistling Tchaikovsky incessantly (actually, this happened before the film too) but the combination of this and their low blood sugar levels led to ridiculous giggling and (probably deservedly) ended with my being hit on the head…

I’m not going to lie, when I got home I re-did my hair in the balletic style it had been in all day (that’s a bun with headband and was unintentional that morning, more of a happy marriage of non-washed hair and the headband that will be a fixture till I get my hair cut) and stood in front of the bathroom mirror stretching, standing on my toes and raising my arms up in the air. Quite ridiculous.

Worse was to come [though not full psychosis and murder, thankfully], having debated the film with traumatised friend via a Facebook status, I concluded a comment with: “Oh, and I want to know where to get leg warmers like hers!” Another friend weighed in with a useful link and within half an hour I’d purchased not one, but three pairs of dancers’ leg warmers. [They will be useful, especially with boots, or when I want to pretend to be a ballerina…] Curse the internet!

It sounds like a cliché and I’m probably having this phase about 20 years late, but I’d left the film possessed with the desire to be a ballet dancer – it’s been in the background for a while thanks to pilates, but the film’s made it a lot worse. Not even the dancing so much – more the exercises and the ability to be so, well, stretchy. I loved clothes the dancers wore while rehearsing in the films – the slouchy jumpers, ridiculously long leg warmers, arm warmers, shrug cardigans – and the effortless way in which they moved while wearing them. *Sigh*

This, folks, is why I’m such a passionate pilates pupil. The weeks when we do standing-up pilates are the only times I get to feel like a dancer and wear vaguely dancer-esque clothes. (The New York City Ballet are responsible for pilates’ modern popularity.) It’s also why taking a ballet class is specifically on my 2011 Firsts list. I’ll never be a dancer, but at least now I’ll be able to swan about in pastel coloured headbands and uber-long leg warmers…

Oh, and the other Black Swan after-effect? I rode the escalators this morning with my feet in 4th position. I’m truly special I am.

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