There has been a certain level of criticism leveled at the film and at Natalie from the ballet world for not starring a real life ballerina. This is almost not worth responding to, and all you need to do is witness Natalie’s performance and her well earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations to vanquish any doubts that she was the right choice.
The aforementioned physio scene is just one of several real life scenarios that Darren just let exist, evolve and left the camera to capture it. He had used similar techniques in his previous film ‘The Wrestler’, notably Mickey Rourke engaging with real customers when working behind the deli counter.
Most films with a nightclub scene do not ring true. The extras are normally dancing to no music, the dance floor is rarely full enough and those that do populate it are impossibly beautiful. What was achieved in Black Swan, in my opinion, is the best club scene committed to film. How was this done? By creating a real club, in a club, with real music, and real clubbers…at 8am on a Tuesday morning. A one off Chemical Bothers remix using samples from Swan Lake is the music used in the scene, giving it a nice twist for those in the know.
Darren Aronofsky on location in New York, on what Alex described as "the coldest night of my life"
My last on-set anecdote is the most awkward, but also the most genius: We had worked through until 3am after a long day of filming and Natalie was asked to act out a traumatic and emotional scene for the twentieth take in a cramped bathroom. Nico, the official photographer was snapping away in the corner of the room until Natalie in no uncertain terms requested he leave the room since he was getting on her nerves. This of course is completely fair, and just like anyone else would be in her position, she was frustrated and in need of a release. As Nico left the room, Darren saw an opportunity and sent him straight back in, stood him in the corner and told him to start snapping away again. This had the effect of pushing Natalie over the edge of frustration and emotion; and Darren got his shot. To this day we are unsure whether this was a masterstroke to evoke performance or just to wind up his star.
Portman as the Black Swan, close to the edge?
Black Swan is a beautiful, visceral, dark and intense experience to watch and I hope that you get the opportunity to go and see it. Look out for my shoulders in the subway scene. A cameo sure, but I feel that I really contributed to the scene…