The Black Swan movie is a psychological horror exploring paranoia, perfectionism, jealousy, the unhinged and the uninhibited. Director, Darren Aronofsky, dissects the high-art form of ballet and the hidden dramas behind the scenes in professional productions, including ageing-out, misogyny, competition, and favouritism. The film released in 2010 follows Natalie Portman’s character, Nina Sayers, as she becomes the lead in a New York City ballet company’s new season of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Lily, Mila Kunis’ character, comes along and reveals an unrestrained form of ballet that Nina both admires and is threatened by. The Black Swan script was written by Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin and Mark Heyman. Check out the various screen facts below.
A Year of Training
The Black Swan actress Natalie Portman took a year of ballet classes to prepare for the lead role. The star even paid for the lessons out of her pocket as the film was still securing its budget. Her dedication to the project helped Darren Aronofsky secure the modest funding of $13 million from investors, falling short of his desired $30 million. Black Swan co-star Mila Kunis trained every day for six months, three months of dance training and three months of regimented training to get her body looking like a ballerina’s. Both actresses lost 20 pounds for their roles.
Co-Starring with No Audition
Blake Lively and Eva Green both auditioned to play Lily. At Natalie Portman’s recommendation, the role went to Mila Kunis without an audition. Aronofsky had a skype call with Kunis and decided she would be a perfect fit for the role. Oddly enough, Aronofsky would try to create a rivalry behind these scenes for the two leading ladies. He often sent messages of praise regarding the other’s performance to attempt to make them compete against each other. Already friends, Portman and Kunis would simply congratulate each other for doing an excellent job after receiving these messages.
Black Swan Meaning
Nina Sayers is a technically perfect ballerina; she struggles to let go and allow her emotion to add to her dancing talents. The double role of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake requires Nina to perform both styles; pure perfection and raw release, highlighting polarity. The movie follows this both on the ballet stage and in Nina’s life. When Lily is seen as the more desirable ballerina for the role of Odile, Nina is threatened, and she goes through a series of awakenings. From the technically perfect young woman who is still tucked into bed every night by her mother; to a woman seemingly falling apart mentally but going after what she wants and creating new experiences. She discovers both pure perfection and raw release. Black Swan represents this transition and the retrospectively expected pain in mastering both sides of opposites.
Ten Years in Development
The script took ten years to develop, with three renditions. The first script by Andres Heinz had a different title and took place in an off-Broadway theatre instead of in a ballet company. Darren Aronofsky liked the original script but felt it would do better in the ballet world. John J. McLaughlin was brought on to change the setting, with final revisions by Mark Heyman.
More than just the script, Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman had been in talks to do a project together since 2001.
Natalie Portman met her husband, Benjamin Millepied, the Black Swan choreographer, while filming. He was said to give Portman extra attention, causing other dancers to complain about needing the same support. Millepied even had a small scene in the Black Swan movie, where he was asked if he would “fuck this girl,” and he nods no.
The couple married in 2012 and have two children—a son named Aleph, born in 2011, and a daughter Amalia, born in 2017.
Canon with The Wrestler (2008)
Darren Aronofsky’s previous 2008 film, The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke, is a part of the same universe as the Black Swan film. Though they are stand-alone films, Aronofsky considered making them one. Realizing combining ballet and wrestling into one project would be too much, he decided on two separate projects. Both the movies explore the dedication an individual has to their art-form. Aronofsky considers wrestling the lowest art-form and ballet the highest. It is a very subtle and thematic connection between the films, but the director carried over the same filming style into the newer project.
Natalie Portman Traded Her Trailer for a Medic
The film had a low budget and was physically demanding; initially, there was no medic on location. The filming proved to be more demanding than anticipated, with Natalie Portman getting many injuries, including a concussion. Portman would go on to dislocate a rib; this was the point she decided to trade her trailer for a medic. The next day of filming, she had no trailer but an onsite medic. The film scene where Portman is receiving physical therapy is a real session with a physical therapist.