March 3, 2014

You Haven’t Seen Black Swan Until You’ve Seen It On Blu-Ray
by James
James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

You Haven’t Seen Black Swan Until You’ve Seen It On Blu-Ray

As part of Awards Season at hmv, each week we’ll be shining a spotlight on some of the award-winning films that have recently been released / re-issued on Blu-Ray, and why you there’s no better time to revisit them.

This week we take a look at at a film by one of our favourite directors: Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan

What is it?

The fifth full-length feature film from director Darren Aronofsky (Reqiuem for a Dream, The Wrestler), Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina Sayers, a dancer at a New York City ballet company preparing to open their new season with a reworking of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The film also has starring roles for Vincent Cassell as ballet director Thomas Leroy and Mila Kunis, who stars as Lily, another of the dancers.

When Thomas forces the company’s leading dancer Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) into retirement, he casts Nina as the Swan Queen. However, Nina must perform as both the white and black swans and although convinced by her disciplined performance of the white swan, he is less persuaded by her performance as its black counterpart, pointing to Lily as an example who, while less technically perfect, has the ability to lose herself in the role of he darker, more chaotic black swan. Thomas criticises Nina’s inability to let go, creating tension between her and Lily.

The pressure soon starts to get to Nina and she begins to suffer hallucinations. Lily tries to smooth things over with Nina and suggests they go for a night out. At a restaurant, Lily offers Nina an ecstasy tablet, which she turns down, but Lily slips it in her drink while Nina is distracted.

In one of the film’s many hallucinogenic sequences, Nina returns home with Lily and, after an argument with her mother, locks herself in a room and has sex with Lily. When she wakes alone the next morning, she realises she is late and arrives at the dance studio to find Lily dancing her part. Nina furiously confronts Lily for not waking her up, but it transpires that Lily spent the night with a man she met at the club and Nina has dreamed the whole thing.

Nina’s hallucinations continue to get more and more vivid, including her imagining Thomas having sex with Lily backstage and Beth stabbing herself in the face with a nail file, until the final climactic sequence in which Nina performs on the opening night, losing herself so completely in the dance she fails to realise she is injured.

What awards did the film win?

Black Swan is Aronofsky’s most nominated film to date, picking up five Oscar nominations, with Natalie Portman taking home the Best Actress award for her portrayal as Nina. The other nominations included Best Picture, Best Cinematography and Best Editing, with Aronofsky himself being nominated for Best Director. The film also earned a number of other nominations, including Best Director the Golden Globes and at the BAFTAs, also picking up wins at the Scream awards and from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

Why is it worth seeing on Blu-Ray?

Fans of Aronofsky’s films will know that they are often visually intense and Black Swan is no different. The film was actually shot on Super 16mm film rather than, with Aronofsky saying he wanted the film to have a ‘Cinema Verite’ feel and this really comes across in HD, although the formats aren’t really natural bedfellows. It’s the soundtrack that really benefits the most from the Blu-Ray release, mixed in 5.1 with DTS-HD. There are also tonnes of extras including a three part ‘making of’ documentary and in-depth interviews with Portman and Aronofsky, as well as features on the costume design and more interviews with the rest of the cast.

Black Swan - Offficial Trailer

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