has an average rating of 8.4 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are worthwhile with a Digital Copy
– 108 minutes
This uses 26.3GB for the movie out of 39.6GB total.
Overall Verdict – Incredible Film / Great Presentation
— Review written by: Danielle Byington —
The Movie Itself is Directed by Darren Aronofsky, with the writing credits of Mark Heyman (who also collaborated with Aronofsky on “The Wrestler“), Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin.
The film centers on Nina (Natalie Portman), a young woman who dances for a New York ballet company. Nina resides with her mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), who still protectively and overly clings to her only child as though she were twelve years old rather than an adult. Erica’s tight grasp on her daughter also seems to have impacted Nina’s decisions in life, as the single-parent was also a ballerina, but gave-up the profession upon discovering she was pregnant with Nina. Perhaps it is Nina’s own nature, or perhaps it is from the constraints of her mother, but either way, Nina is for the most part a bit timid, quiet, and just generally a goody-two-shoes. Amongst these qualities, she is also insanely a perfectionist, which has led her to qualifying for the coveted role of the Swan Queen in her company’s upcoming production of Swan Lake. As she auditions for the director, Mr. Leroy (Vincent Cassel), he himself even declares how he knew that her White Swan audition would be flawless, but he doubts her Black Swan translation; this of which is true, as Nina moves on to display her Black Swan routine, proving to lack the seductive, liberal sexuality in her spirit that Leroy is looking for in one performer who must be able to demonstrate both roles.
On top of these auditions, a new girl from San Fransisco has just joined the ballet company; Lily (Mila Kunis). As Nina has been rewarded the role of the Swan Queen, she drastically fears that she can not find within herself the dark-side required for the performance of the Black Swan role, and Leroy often points out to Nina how Lily possesses exactly what the Black Swan needs. These comments make Nina both curious about Lily, as well as a bit jealous, and perhaps even paranoid that someone else could fill her shoes. Nina’s comfort level with Lily proves to be very gaped, even after taking her up on a dinner offer. Things continue to unravel in Nina’s mind, as her obsession with perfecting the role of the Swan Queen begins to take its toll on her life in many forms; only she can not decide what is really happening and what is not.
The psychological terror that the story brings to the screen has the ability to strike a broad range of demographics. The hallucinations experienced by Nina do play on a sort-of human-double neurotic phenomenon, as popularly discussed in reviews of the film’s storyline. However, the mania endured by the main character conveys to me more of a psychosis initiated by her obscenely intense obsession to be the White/Black Swan. Nina’s infatuation with this dancing role is beyond a desire or passion, and it is really a plague of anxiety that pushes her to obtain this intangible idea of perfection; though it also pushes her mind over the edge. As I mentioned above, you do not need to be a ballerina to experience a connection to the main character. Generally speaking, most all of us have in some way experienced Nina’s mental battle to be the best. While one’s struggle to achieve perfection was likely not to this degree, the core of Nina’s insanity is something every viewer can relate to; the challenge of obtaining something you desperately want. Sometimes when one yearns for something so badly, the anxiety created by this obsession does drive us little mad, perhaps. This film’s story is a brilliant demonstration on such a situation, though it is an exaggeration what the general population experiences.
The determination Nina puts forth and her desperate struggle to portray the essence of the Black Swan as perfectly as her conveyance of the White Swan most likely hits-home with not only Portman herself, but any dedicated actor for that matter. It’s actually very uncanny to realize that you are watching a woman put forth one of her best performances as an actress to portray to viewers a fictional person who is facing an even larger challenge mentally to portray a role for an audience. In the end, it is simply all top marks for this film in every aspect, as it receives a “5 Star Rating“.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layer Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb’s technical specifications, this film was shot using the following cameras: Arriflex 16 SR3, Arriflex 416, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and Canon EOS 7D. This seemingly unlikely combination proves to lend a unique and very praise-worthy final product. Complimentary to film’s classic thriller nature, you are visually provided with a rather grainy look. However, amongst this seemingly heavy dose of film grain, the excellence of the high definition presentation remains detectable to a degree as far as finer details are concerned. Underneath this film grain, the usual subjects such as textures of the skin (facial pores), and fine hairs such as those of the brow and hairline are certainly available to your eyes; though simply not in the same digitally clean manner that you may be accustomed to from other run-of-the-mill studio releases. I suppose that in all relevance of the definition regarding this release, I can not stress enough that the film grain is consistently moderate to heavy depending on the lighting situation (and source), which is something I think many will appreciate this film’s Blu-ray release; though, it is a topic that may be scrutinized by some for simply not baring a generic “ideal” digitalized image.
The color palette is mostly neutral, appropriately steering clear of any loud primaries (in relation to the story’s tone), an absence which you may notice within the consistencies of the often darkened production design. The black level is very solid, often casting its inky appearance within select scenes, and further complimenting the sharpness of the video. On that note, scenes taking place within the mother’s apartment are pretty much the one exception of this, baring a slightly warmer and incandescent look. The cinematography here looks amazing, but there are a few occasions in which it shines even brighter, as instances occur that involve the camera circling about a cast member as they weave about the set while dancing. Taking into consideration the circumstances of stage lighting involved in a few scenes as the ballet is performed, the video quality at hand here does not stagger into a lower grade of quality. While that may be a small note, it was definitely important that such key climatic scenes like this look amazing no matter the lighting situations. Overall, the video quality of this release holds its own as it provides a specific look that matches the story’s intent accurately, and receives a “4.5 Star rating“.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio.The subject that is likely the largest to be noticed within the audio track of “Black Swan” on Blu-ray is the variation of reoccurrences involving the music from the Swan Lake set. The music from the ballet production to be performed in the film fills-up the silence as both an actual score/soundtrack, but is also used as an environmental or background filler (i.e. a pianist playing music for the production at the rehearsals). Clint Mansell, composer of the film’s score, used an abundance of Tchaikovsky’s actual Swan Lake to influence the final rendition of the score/soundtrack that we experience through out the film. While at times the melody is bluntly detectable, it is at times more subtle, and feels like an entirely original song; non-the-less, the artistic intent in blending the melodies of Swan Lake in various ways through out the film proves to hit the nail on the head in providing the perfect eerie tone at times. This score is delivered in an excellent fashion about the 5.1 soundscape, baring a stronger presence within the front channels, but also providing life to the rears, as well. The strongest demonstration of LFE presence within this release’s audio track occurs during a scene in which Nina and Lily attend a club; the music heard in this scene, composed by The Chemical Brothers, also makes for some additional multi-channel presence with each note of the techno/trance song. As this is a psychological thriller, there are a few instances of effect-panning that accompany the hallucinations experienced by Nina, and these subtle to more startling occurrences are executed nicely from their respective channels. Overall, the audio track on this release has a lot to offer, and does the film itself justice, overall earning a “4.5 Star rating“.
Bonus Materials are presented in High Definition (HD) in a variety of 1080i and 1080p with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps sound; unless noted otherwise below.
- “Black Swan Metamorphosis” (48:55 – HD 1080i) is your general concise behind-the-scenes featurette.
- “Theatrical Trailer” (2:02 – HD 1080p) uses Dolby Digital Multi-Channel.
- “Ballet” (2:33 – HD 1080p) involves the Director and others from the production discussing ballet’s interpretive essence, and how this influenced Aronofsky’s ideas of the film.
- “Production Design” (4:00 – HD 1080p)
- “Costume Design” (3:55 – HD 1080p)
- “Profile: Natalie Portman” (3:16 – HD 1080p)
- “Profile: Darren Aronofsky” (2:48 – HD 1080p)
- “Conversation: Preparing for the Role” (3:53 – HD 1080p)
- “Conversation: Dancing with the Camera” (1:35 – HD 1080p) highlights some of the cinematography techniques applied to the filming of the production.
- “FOX Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Natalie Portman” (5:56 – SD)
- “FOX Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Winona Ryder” (2:17 – SD)
- “FOX Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Barbara Hershey” (3:37 – SD)
- “FOX Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Vincent Cassel” (4:43 – SD)
- “FOX Movie Channel Presents: Direct Effect Darren Aronofsky” (6:23 – SD)
- Digital Copy of the film is included which is compatible with both Mac and PC computers, as well as iTunes and Windows Media portable devices. This digital copy lasts 1 year from the release date.
Overall, the bonus materials are an excellent round-up of production oriented interviews that fans of the film are to enjoy.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Be PATIENT with the loading times, as you should keep in mind that these files are (on average) at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.