“Stop it Nina, you are strong!”
On December 18, 2010 a member from the old forums of AwardsDaily (which then became the AwardsWatch forums in 2013, then AwardsWorthy in 2019) embarked on an odyssey of Black Swan fandom that has entertained us for a decade, nearly as much as the film that inspired it.
You see, bjorkrazy wasn’t just a fan of Natalie Portman, they were a Portmaniac. “Stop it Nina, you are strong!” became a mantra. They had a “communal, near-spiritual viewing of the film is the apotheosis of the cinematic experience” and stands as a “perfect example of why movie theaters are worth saving and cherishing.”
Here, in their own words and unedited, is their response to their screening of Black Swan that was clearly an out of body, otherworldly event.
Here’s my story.
I arrived at the theatre at around 6:15 where I was surprised to see a long line of people purchasing tickets. This is the fancy, ritzy theatre that is typically kind of empty, but tonight, it was nearly packed. Some of the younger moviegoers were buying tickets to 127 Hours or The Social Network, but a large majority was seeing Black Swan with me. After entering the lobby area, my friend wanted to buy popcorn and refreshments but I knew better so we ended up claiming the perfect seats first. The hallway leading down to the screening room had a variety of movie posters, but only one caught my attention: Black Swan. Beneath it, a small table offering miniature versions of the posters (I ended up taking three) and some artsy film magazine. An older woman who was headed towards the 127 Hours room further down the hall stopped to look at the table, and she said to hag number two, “Oh, this one’s such a bad actress.” I almost stopped her, almost corrected her. I felt like saying, “no, you’re wrong, Natalie Portman is about to blow the minds of everyone in this building and she’s going to win awards.” But I refrained and instead thought those things to myself and just smirked, knowing how wrong this woman was.
The trailers were boring. The only one I hadn’t seen in a theatre before was Tree of Life but I was too busy anticipating the start of the main feature to pay attention to it. And then Black Swan started. And my life was forever changed as an avid fan of movies. Forever changed, in general. I am no longer a perfectionist. Nina Sayers has taught me to relax and think things through rationally. I am so grateful to Portman and everyone involved for teaching us to avoid obsession over something, a lesson I take seriously. However, it is undeniable that there is a black swan inside each and every one of us. Waiting to pop out. Waiting for its turn. We must not go down the Nina route and confront it harshly. Our black swans must be dealt with by the use of patience and perserverance. If and when my black swan decides to come out, I will not let him die but I will also not let him run my life. If only Nina could have done the same thing. Unfortunately, her poor soul was destined to suffer for our benefits.
Because of Nina, we will know what to do. Her noble sacrifice is something we should be thankful for. I cannot express enough gratitude for Aronofsky and Portman, because they’ve changed the lives of everyone who has seen this movie.
Portman simply plays a tragic hero in this film. You may look at Nina Sayers and think she’s deranged, she’s insane, she’s ridiculous! But Nina Sayers is a hero and a victim of something she had no control over. Portman has never been so impressive. No one has. I can confidently say it’s my favorite performance in the last twenty years.
But was it a performance? What if Natalie Portman wasn’t even acting, what if she became Nina? I think this must be the case. The most natural and revolutionary portrayal was a result of the actor bravely stepping into the shoes of her character. With Annette Bening/Jennifer Lawrence/Nicole Kidman, you can tell it’s acting. With our Oscar winner, you’re kept guessing.
Mila Kunis is the perfect seductress. Everyone else who was involved in “That 70s Show” should be ashamed, for they have been completely outshined in life. Barbara Hershey is divine and terrifying as Nina’s mother. She reminded me a lot of my own in quite a few scenes. The rest of the supporting cast dazzles, but it is Portman’s film. The image of her in the full swan make-up is iconic. The way she cranes her neck to mimic a bird is chilling. Her dancing is just flawless.
Nina, Nina, Nina. How I sympathize with thee. By far the best written, and best acted character of the year.
Aronofsky succeeds in making the film an audience friendly one. No, it’s not a faux-comedy about boring lesbians. It’s not about a man stuck in a canyon. And it isn’t a crowd-pleaser. It’s much darker, much deeper. But it grabs a hold of you and never lets go. I was riveted throughout and couldn’t contain my variety of emotions.
When Nina was stabbing herself with the nail file, I just whispered repeatedly, “stop it Nina, you are strong!” I knew Nina could overcome it, but she sadly didn’t. When Nina danced awfully in the first act, I felt horrible for her and just had to shout out “oh wipe that smirk off your face, bitch” at that harpy slut Veronica. The other audience members laughed because they were thinking the same thing. And when the movie ended, I didn’t stop to wipe my tears away. I joined in the applause.
Just a minute ago they played a promo for Black Swan on television. I get chills every time I hear the beautifully haunting and atmospheric music. I downloaded the soundtrack beforehand, but scorned myself for cheating the people involved with the film. So I just bought it like I should have in the first place. Giving money to anything Black Swan related will not be a problem. If Portman unfairly loses any awards in the future, I will set up a fund that will donate all its earnings to Fox Searchlight’s campaign before the Oscar votes are due.
As for where the film lands in my personal line-ups, isn’t it obvious?
1. Black Swan
who cares about the rest?
1. Darren Aronofsky
1. Natalie Portman
Best Supporting Actress
1. Mila Kunis
2. Barbara Hershey
3. Winona Ryder
4. Natalie Portman (as The Double)
Best Supporting Actor
1. Andrew Garfield
2. Vincent Cassel
BOTTOM LINE: Its greatness should not be limited to a five letter term. It’s more than just a movie. It’s life, it’s our atmosphere. Any time somebody else wins a Best Actress award, a swan loses its wings.