Friday, January 21, 2011

Blake and Black Swans

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the dark, new film Black Swan. The consensus seems to be that it is obviously artful but one wishes she had not watched it. Hmm… sounds like a Darren Aronofsky film all right. Last weekend I finally got a chance to see this much anticipated film. Be warned that, though I loved this movie, it contains very offensive sexual scenes. I do not believe that this movie is for everyone. Also, I spoil the ending ahead. At the beginning of the film, we immediately get a picture of innocence: a timid ballerina with devout discipline to the techniques of dance. From this point on I could not help but view the film through the lens of William Blake’s poetry (note: my Romantics professor never really agreed with my interpretation of Blake).

In the hot climate that this film has erupted, I am trying to find reasons that this film is valuable and significant outside of its artistic production. I believe that there is something spiritually significant in the film’s story. What we have here is Blake’s theme of innocence and its inevitable movement into experience, which ultimately leads to death. O.K. Too nerdy? Well, it is essentially the story of Eve. At the beginning of the story, the young dancer is a near perfect individual. She has a mastery of technique and a blameless personality that qualifies her to dance as the white swan. However, there is something missing that disqualifies her from embodying the black swan. The movie then chronicles her slow move into experience through sexual encounters, jealousy, and violence. She has eaten the apple, and it has changed her; this state of experience leads to her death. The movie asserts that while this transformation is inevitable, there is also something good, even perfect in it. Perfection is only achieved by first going through a state of experience. In my reading, Blake reaches this same conclusion. And this is what I believe most Christians will probably be offended by. Did we need to enter the state of sin or would it have been better to stay in Eden?

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