Posted by Jaya Ramdath on January 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm
The question that everyone wants answered after seeing Black Swan is: Did Nina Sayers, cast as the Swan Queen in a New York production of Swan Lake, really die in the end, or was her death another of her hallucinations?
By this point in the film, we know we cannot trust Nina to show us what really happens—as she hallucinates the majority of what we see. Everything she shows us is what she, herself, needs to see in order to feel the part of both the Black and White Swans. I would say the safest bet is to go with what everyone around her sees and does. When Lily comes to congratulate her, both the audience and Nina realize Lily is still alive and her body is not hidden away, bleeding in the dressing room. However, as no other character but Nina sees the dressing room, the audience can never know for sure if the mirror really was broken. So we still see the shattered pieces of her mirror on the floor.
If the mirror really was broken, then it’s possible Nina did manage to stab herself. But how would she not notice the piece of glass wedged into her stomach the whole time she danced as the Black Swan? I understand how she could lose herself in her hallucination of having stabbed Lily, therefore allowing Nina to think she’s perfectly alive and stab-free. But that only suffices for the mental part. No matter how powerful the mind is, it cannot control the body’s involuntary reaction to being stabbed. Meaning, even if she eventually came to believe she stabbed herself, from the time she removed the glass, she would have been bleeding like crazy. And even if she was able to continue dancing in spite of the pain (since she’s freakishly dedicated), and let’s say she temporarily tried to bandage up the wound and stop the bleeding, there’s no way she could have timed it so perfectly that it would start to bleed again when the White Swan dies.
However, if I remember correctly, the timing of the bleeding was off by just a tiny bit. I think there was a close up of her wound just before she jumped to her death, showing how the bleeding started to increase—that’s just chronologically impossible. If she had to bleed as part of her dedication to the show, it should have began after she fell.
When she is bleeding on the mattress, everyone around her sees it too and reacts by trying to get help for her. Even if you want to argue that Thomas Leroy was only trying to get her mental help after asking what she did to herself (insinuating she wasn’t bleeding or dying, but just made herself crazy to play the role), everyone around her was freaking out about what they saw physically—the blood had to have been real.
Nina had to imagine that her life was the story she was supposed to perform so she could make her performance perfect. Nina literally became the Black Swan when she stabbed Lily in her hallucination—she completely transformed into the physical thing. It wasn’t until she had to become the White Swan again that she saw herself as the victim who was stabbed. Considering her mother’s claim that Nina deserves the part because she is the most dedicated member of the dance company, I would say she was dedicated enough to kill herself if that’s what she had to do to be perfect as both the evil and deceptive Black Swan and the innocent but deceived White Swan who must die in the end to escape the terrible world she sees around her.
How did you interpret the ending?
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