Black Swan Blu-Ray Review

The Movie: 8/10
Tortured human emotions, it’s a theme I can always sink my mind into and Black Swan took my mind for quite a ride. I enjoyed it, if you can say ENJOY. It’s entertaining in that way that makes you feel like you are intruding on someone’s life, but all the while titillated and stimulated by the visuals, the ideas, the characters. I don’t know anything about ballet, or Swan Lake, or any kind of obsessive determination that comes with things like devoting your life to ballet or wanting to be THE swan queen. It’s not in my personality, however, to get lost in a character who sees nothing beyond the goal of being THE whatever, swan queen, star athlete, Olympic champion, President, etc.  This story shows the smashing contrast of a fragile, nearly broken individual up against her twisted view of what she must do in life to be important, to accomplish something, to live up to something. But then again, I never get the feeling she’s trying to do this for anyone but her self. I know her mother is overbearing and controlling and creepy, but her motivation seems from deep deep within. She has found dance as the way for her to connect to the world, to torture herself, go through the pain, suffer, all to be something.

The tragic part of anyone’s drive to get to a result in life, disregarding everything else rather than paying attention to the whole journey, is that there is never going to be an end, not really. She’s driven to be the swan queen, to be the star of the show, but is she really? People like this character are all just moving forward blinded by their emptiness. She’s cold, stuck inside herself, can’t let loose or feel free, ever. The demands of the ballet drain her, unlike Lily, the young dancer who seems to have everything our heroine doesn’t have, a balance between the world of dance and her own personal self.

The movie is lovely. I can’t really describe it any other way. It’s beautifully shot, great sets, details on top of details, it’s lush for the eye. The performances are all such high quality that the people get lost and the characters take over…I love that. I have never been a big Mila Kunis fan, but I have been converted. She’s charming but a bit scary, annoying but sympathetic, she pulls it all together in such a complex situation. Natalie Portman has some unbelievably subtle moments in which in a split second she goes from being a hurt young woman to being a cold unflinching empty shell. It’s eerie sometimes, and that’s what makes her performance so engaging.

The music is chilling and draws me in on every dance step, or moment with the characters. The sounds they layer on top or put behind the action create such an atmosphere that it’s visceral when an emotion is peaked. I don’t normally like being guided emotionally with music and sounds, but when it all comes together so well, it makes sense and it makes a better movie watching experience. If the lead character is going mad and we are watching from their point of view, well, we need to have our minds filled with anything that can clue us into their emotional state.

The more I think about Black Swan the more I like it, and I really did love it the first time, so there ya go.

Features: 10/10

  • Metamorphosis: A Behind The Scenes Documentary With Darren Aronofsky – These are some excellent extras. The behind the scenes extensive documentary interviews and just watching the movie being made, make the best additions to any DVD.
  • Behind The Curtain – Aronofsky digs deep into the ballet world to figure out how to make the dance work in a film. Costumes and production design that needed to build the world of a ballet dancer are the focus with interviews and some concept art.
  • Ten Years In The Making – Aronofsky – The title says it all, it took 10 years to bring this movie to the screen. In this extra they discuss the process. It does fill in something I don’t think about much, the time it takes for some movies to go from idea to finished film.
  • Cast Profiles – Each cast member discusses their role in TV interviews.
  • Digital Copy – It’s a copy.
  • BDLive – Nothing here to see.

Cover Art and Menus: 10/10
The cover is just right, simple but striking, memorable and representative of the film in a way you understand even before you see it. I would have it as a poster, in fact I might have to shop around for it right now. The menu is fine, just some clips from the movie and navigation.

Audio & Video: 7/10
Some might say the Blu-Ray transfer of Black Swan is a little on the soft/noisy side and you would be correct in saying so. Director Darren Aronofsky uses a combination of 16mm Ariflex camera’s and Canons 5D & 7D video capable 1080P still camera’s (these Canon camera’s are the kind you and me can buy for just under 2 grand). This gives the movie a life like almost documentary type feel which when mixed with the otherworldly special effects makes you feel kind-of uneasy the entire time. The downside to using 16mm film is the image is way less detailed than you will be used to, but the Blu-Ray does a fine job of preserving what audiances saw theatrically.

Most of Black Swans impact comes from it’s incredible soundtrack which fuses the classical music from the famous ballet with some really unnerving sounds (the type of sounds that seem like they are not from this world). Lots of interesting sound pans across the entire sound stage and even some interesting grumbling LFE from your sub woofer. This is a great movie to show off your speakers, or just appreciate the amazing music especially during the grand finale.

Value: 5/10
If you are watching with a group of friends or family the 20 or so bucks you will spend on the Blu-Ray seems OK, I guess. I don’t think I’ll be watching this again. It’s a great movie, but I just don’t have to see it again. It’s in my mind, doesn’t need a repeat visit. So, to buy the DVD doesn’t fit for me. Rental is my recommendation, rent and enjoy all the extras, spend the extra cash on your snacks of choice. There are a lot of extras that make it a solid watching experience, however, it’s still not worth the price….yet. It will probably go down closer to holiday season and if you know someone who digs the intense stories and hasn’t seen it, this is a good choice.

Overall Score 8/10