Author Topic: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"  (Read 4582 times)

Offline Fallen Star

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2011, 04:49:31 pm »
"The Red Shoes" is a great film, and not just because of the dancing. I love the scenes of Covent Garden before it was redeveloped, which I remember only very vaguely from when my age was in single figures.
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Offline kleines c

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2011, 06:00:16 pm »
"Black Swan" was appalling.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/7cf4a832-fe38-11df-abac-00144feab49a.html#axzz1CLRSUoN8

Nevertheless, it has triumphed at the box office, to critical acclaim.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Swan_(film)

Offline alywin

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2011, 12:46:24 am »
Not to mention all these people who've been ringing Covent Garden asking when Natalie Portman's dancing ...  (Have they never heard of confusing reality and fiction?!)

My problem with it is that the premise is all wrong: it's the White Swan that's difficult to portray - the Black one ought to be relatively easy(!) if you have a sufficiently good technique.  I rarely see a ballerina who's better at Odette than Odile.  So all that stuff about her being too virginal and repressed to make a good Black Swan is a bit wide of the mark.

Offline marbleflugel

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2011, 04:32:02 am »
Apols for my howler earlier guys, but very pleased it opened up an interesting tangent. Time I revisited these things.

Offline Reiner Torheit

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2011, 05:00:20 am »
My problem with it is that the premise is all wrong: it's the White Swan that's difficult to portray - the Black one ought to be relatively easy(!)

Portaying "good" characters is always harder, because they have a tendency to veer towards goody-two-shoes bores who've escaped from an Enid Blyton "Famous Five" story.  Moreover in many cases they're actually very weakly written in the first place, so performers face an uphill struggle against the material itself.  But playing baddies is also hard, because although subverting society's norms is potentially easy to depict, there's still the question of, errr.... why?  Odile has a get-out, because she's the innocent pre-programmed agent of someone else's will.   But Rotbart, unfortunately, falls into the category of "cackling melodramatic psychopath" whose motivation(s) are weakly-defined or entirely absent.  This makes them hard to perform, because they lack normal human personality traits - and in the worst instances plod around the stage like ageing luvvies hoping to be cast as the villain in The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop.  Goodies (and baddies) become interesting if we know what makes them tick - Jean Valjean is a "good" man, because he is a reformed petty thief trying to walk the line of respectability.  Finding the backstories - ideally by textual analysis, or by informed supposition in the absence of anything more concrete -  to characters is some of the most important work that's done in the research stages before rehearsals begin.  If you really have nothing much else to go on,  it's often productive to find characters with analogous personality-traits,  and synthesise a prototypic character from work done by performers and directors of bygone times. 


Even rubber villains have an unerring capacity to become wooden...
« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 05:02:41 am by Reiner Torheit »
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Offline Fallen Star

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2011, 10:33:21 am »
Even rubber villains have an unerring capacity to become wooden...

And of course always look Oriental and speak with a strange accent.
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Offline Reiner Torheit

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2011, 01:10:14 pm »
And of course always look Oriental and speak with a strange accent.

It's true, all villains are foreigners.  The Daily Mail confirms this ;)
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Offline strinasacchi

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2011, 01:30:21 pm »
And of course always look Oriental and speak with a strange accent.

It's true, all villains are foreigners.  The Daily Mail confirms this ;)

No no no, every red-blooded film-going American knows all villains are British! With impeccable accents, false charm, compressed thin lips and the ability to arch a single eyebrow.

Offline Reiner Torheit

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2011, 01:49:41 pm »
No no no, every red-blooded film-going American knows all villains are British! With impeccable accents, false charm, compressed thin lips and the ability to arch a single eyebrow.

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Offline Fallen Star

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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2011, 02:00:51 pm »
And of course always look Oriental and speak with a strange accent.

It's true, all villains are foreigners.  The Daily Mail confirms this ;)

No no no, every red-blooded film-going American knows all villains are British! With impeccable accents, false charm, compressed thin lips and the ability to arch a single eyebrow.

Yes, but to the Americans, WE are foreign! That's the point. And the relatively small distinctions in our background only highlight what it is that disturbs us about foeigness - being our long buried uncivilised past coming back to haunt us. Also, evil always comes from the East, and to the Americans, we are East.
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Re: Soembody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2011, 02:21:04 pm »
but to the Americans, WE are foreign! That's the point.
Although most other people in the world are even more foreign than the British... I've always thought, perhaps unwarrantedly, that a strong contributory reason would be that British actors are less concerned about any damage done to the investment in their images as movie-heroes by appearing in a "negative light".

Offline Reiner Torheit

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Offline Il Grande Inquisitor

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Re: Somebody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2011, 10:40:02 pm »
Anyone seen this yet, or is planning to?

I saw Black Swan on Tuesday. I didn't feel it quite lived up to the hype I'd read elsewhere, although the cinematograhpy is impressive. I suspect that the audience will be divided - I can imagine that those who know little of ballet will emerge from the cinema wanting to go and see Swan Lake (which can be no bad thing), while those who know something of the ballet world will find it rather cliched and predictable... the svengali-type Head of Company, the mother living out her aborted career through her daughter. Terribly clunky script, though Natalie Portman was good, as was Winona Ryder as a dancer whose career is at an end.
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Offline oliver sudden

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Re: Somebody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2011, 09:25:25 am »
One is led to believe that there's quite an upsurge in general ballet interest (especially in the US) because of it so that's certainly a good thing in itself.

We saw it a couple of nights back although could only do so on the small screen (what with dubbing being such a feature of the cinematic landscape in these parts). I was unimpressed at the time and the more I scratch at it the more feathers keep coming out. Quite unconvinced with Portman's dancing I'm afraid and to me that's one of the biggest problems: not being convinced that Nina is a fantastic dancer made it practically impossible to swallow the plot. We've all heard how much time Portman devoted to her ballet classes and hearing that she's going to marry her instructor at least answers the question of where all that time went. They should have just concentrated on getting her arms right - if they can't even make the closeups convincing then they clearly can't have had that much to work with.

The other enormous problem for me (actually, probably the clincher) was simply that at some point, once one thing after another presented as real had been shown as a hallucination (especially since she occasionally snaps out of one hallucination only to be in the middle of another one - I expected some slowed-down Edith Piaf to loom into the aural landscape) my suspension of disbelief collapsed irrevocably.

And plenty of little problems. Not really convinced by Vincent Cassel - he didn't seem to be able to bring much life into his English, amply evidenced by the couple of French sentences he got to spit out. I have the memory of the idea of Odette and Odile being danced by the same person being presented as some radical production idea when that's how it's been done since the premiere (and Odile has such a tiny amount of time on stage anyway). And the last phase of the film being so damn schlocky. And, and, and. Grr.

Right, I've said it now.

Offline Mary Chambers

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Re: Somebody has to raise this - "Black Swan"
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2011, 10:43:49 am »
Quite unconvinced with Portman's dancing I'm afraid and to me that's one of the biggest problems: not being convinced that Nina is a fantastic dancer made it practically impossible to swallow the plot. We've all heard how much time Portman devoted to her ballet classes and hearing that she's going to marry her instructor at least answers the question of where all that time went. They should have just concentrated on getting her arms right - if they can't even make the closeups convincing then they clearly can't have had that much to work with.


My impression exactly, and I've only seen the trailers.