What Really Happened at the End of Black Swan?

Posted by Jaya Ramdath on November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

What Really Happened at the End of Black Swan?


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?

Comments : 67 Comments | Topics : Rants | Tags : ,,


  1. She didn’t necessarily die. The death could be symbolic. There are some believability issues if she actually stabbed herself.

    So many people take it for granted that she actual dies at the end, but Nina is wearing the white swan costume when she “stabs” Lily. So that means she had to change her outfit, dance for 40 minutes, and then change her outfit again before noticing that she has actually stabbed herself, which seems a little silly, not to mention the blood would not be just on her belly, but would be running down her legs, and would be against a bright white outfit. And the dance as the black swan involves quite a bit of contact with the principal male dancer or “prince.”

    The wound her her stomach gets significantly larger before she finishes her last scene and falls onto the mattress. We see it from her imagination, where the wound is growing enormously and showing through enormously, then the shot changes to one from the audience’s point of view, and there is no mark on her abdomen. She then falls and there’s nothing on her belly, then when Thomas runs over it basically shows her with her guts hanging out, which is obviously not true, or it would be immediately noticeable to anyone, not just Lily. But Lily’s gasp makes me wonder what was seen. Maybe she just realizes that Nina is passing out or too spent to get up. But I can’t fathom it in any way being that Nina actually stabbed herself and then danced the whole rest of the ballet without anyone noticing. It pushes the realm of believability to the extreme.

    Regardless of what happens at the end, I think it’s the catalyst for her getting some medical help of some kind. Hopefully mental help since she actually injured herself, or didn’t and something happened that made people realize something was wrong. She could have also imagined the reactions since she was presumably slipping out of consciousness or losing touch with reality. The fact that she wasn’t getting up or responding to people could also have simply indicated to the people around her that there was a problem.

    As far as symbolism goes, it seems like it is more likely symbolism of her embracing the black swan and killing the white swan, but since both exist within herself, that does not necessitate the death of her real life character. It could also be the death of her rational mind and surrender to insanity.

    I just have a hard time buying that Aronofsky would make such a well crafted film and do so much detail work and then make such a glaringly difficult to swallow death scene.

  2. I know I’m late (the movie just came to a small local cinema), but I hope someone’s still interested:

    I have not yet seen the theory that Nina might not have been stabbed until *after* the Black Swan dance part. But it seems to be possible, and “physiologically” more logical (while from the psychologic point of view, the most obvious explanation is that she wounded herself when she stabbed her own “Black Swan” alter ego, of course).

    When she discovers the wound, it looks like the shard has just recently been stabbed through the cloth of her costume. I didn’t think it looked like she was stabbed, took the white costume off, dressed in the black costume and switched back to the damaged and bloodied white outfit. I’d expect that hole and wound would at least be slightly dislodged. And why didn’t she notice it earlier?

    So how could it have happened?

    Maybe the shard got lodged in her white costume while she fought the imaginary Lily and shattered the mirror. Since she took off the costume soon after, she was lucky and nothing happened yet. It’s also possible that while Nina danced the Black Swan part, someone *intentionally* put the shard into her white costume (a jealous Veronica, Nina’s unhinged mother, or maybe Lily was “evil” after all?).

    However the shard got there, after Lily’s visit, when Nina bends down to remove the towel from her bathroom door and discovers that there isn’t any blood, the shard gets pushed into her abdomen. In a more complex way, it also makes sense from the psychological point of view: As Nina realizes that she didn’t fight Lily but her own alter ego, she must be the one that’s wounded.

    Speaking of “evil Lily” and giving this theory yet another twist: Do we know for sure that Lily didn’t stab Nina when she came to congratulate her?

    Anyway, if Nina would only have to dance the last White Swan part with the wound, it makes the whole thing more believable.

    I’m still not completely convinced that the wound is real though… Especially if Lily did indeed actively stab Nina, it could have been one final “Lily wants to usurp my role” or “Lily destroyed my innocence” hallucination. It would be a nice ironic twist, however, if this wound *is* real, but Nina dismisses it as another illusion like all those other wounds / body changes. The changes in perception of the blood that P described would still work, but the perspectives of Nina / the audience would actually be reverted.

  3. 1) Ballerinas are used to pain. They live with it every day and they cannot be ballerinas if they do not have a high paintreshold.
    2) She was in a shock/hallucinating so that she didn’t feel the pain
    3) While she was dancing, she still had the glass bit inside her, didn’t she? So she actually wouldn’t bleed. The crucial moment is when you remove the object, because then you start to bleed. Also the costumes she was wearing were propably very tight, and they would also work as a tourniquet.
    And when she does remove the glass bit, she only has the very final scene to do, and it’s a very short scene actually. She could very well be able to do it.

    Of course it’s also possible that she didn’t stab herself at all.

  4. i believe we see her bleeding when shes on top of the incline as the white swan. theres a small redness in the middle of her belly, which is shown to get larger. i noticed it the second time i watched it. it really is a thought provoking movie.

  5. WIERD movie! I couldn’t tell what was supposed to be real and what wasn’t. Also, was the LESBIAN sceen REALLY necessary for the movie? It grossed me out!

  6. My thought was that Nina never actually went on stage during the show. When she gets off stage from being the black swan, I notice that she goes back into the dressing room but has her original street shoes on as if she had just shown up to her dressing room from her house. I also noticed that she resumes the exact same position in front of her mirror putting on her white facial makeup that she was in when she originally came into the dressing room (when Lily made the comment “she’s supposed to be sick” as if she had planned some sort of sabotage from the beginning).

    My take on the end is that Nina had killed herself at that very instant when she first showed up in her dressing room and the rest was a hallucination before she died (including the very end where she actually does the suicide fall from the stage). I feel pretty strongly that she really NEVER went on stage during the final show and was hallucinating everything from the time she went into the dressing room.

  7. Any consider the fact that a ballerina cannot put on her own costume? Someone from behind has to hook the costume together. Someone would have noticed the blood. Thus, Nina hallucinated the whole stabbing bit. When the white swan falls to her death in the end I think Nina was totally engrossed in her psychosis.

  8. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis gave great performances and the movie was compelling until the predictable ending. She died. It was a lazy way to end, what could’ve been, a great film.

  9. She was never the chosen as the Swan Queen.. she imagined the whole thing because she was crazy

  10. Everyone I went to see Black Swan with interpreted the ending as Nina wounding herself (probably mortally) but somehow managing to finish the performance. I’m not so sure.
    Beth, when we get a nail in the tire of a car sometimes it does seal around the nail well enough that the tire doesn’t leak until the nail is removed. Our bodies do not work that way. There would certainly be bleeding even while the glass was in the wound and the amount of movement dancer’s perform would have further injured her and caused more bleeding.
    Beryl, no, the imagined lesbian sex could have simply been implied. While we are at it do we really need the steamy sex in Body Heat to appreciate why she was able to convince her lawyer to kill her husband? Similarly in Fargo and Saving Private Ryan they could have had all the violence off camera. Would any of these movies have the same emotional impact if the film was toned down? We are long past having to pan out of ocean waves or showing a train entering a tunnel to imply sex. Movie goes expect a certain intensity and rightly so.

  11. Just my two cents. The movie was not about ballet. That was only the vehicle used to move the plot. The plot was a person’s coming of age, in this case, a sheltered young woman living under the smothering influence of her mother. Nina is torn mentally between doing what is safe and what her mother wants, and learning to stand on her own and become responsible. Certainly, the hallucinations seem extreme and make it appear she is having mental issues, but I believe that is simply the auhor’s way of showing the difficult changes Nina is undergoing. Her efforts to get what she wants, and willingness to step way outside her comfort zone, leads me to think she did not die, but merely achieves, through her hard work, the goal she sought.

  12. I loved the movie and it was absolutely perfect until it completely derailed at the end leaving everyone wondering when, how could she dance, is she dead, does she really die…well, everything you see people here discussing. I think Aronofsky relied way too much on that suspension of disbelief so often mentioned. It really detracts from the rest of that wonderful film and gives the ending less impact because you’re already trying to figure out what went on and when while Nina is still dancing away to her death…or not. That’s too many questions left up in the air, too many fumbing attempts to read his mind. He was perfectly capable of showing the realization moment of her stabbing herself as the true climactic moment that it was more accurately and believably. As it is, he dropped the ball…and the Oscar, in case he’s interested.

  13. 2/1/11 comment by ‘P’ is very good and one that i completely agree with. She does not die in the end it is just symbolic. No way the film maker was so careful in the films execution and then in the end she really stabs her self bleeds all over the place. My take is she goes on to be a very successful dancer and perhaps has to work out the mental issues, mostly stress induced, but that all the weird scenes in the movie are hallucinations on her part.

  14. for some reason people keep tellong me this movie is about her mom molesting her and stuff. And im like whaaaaa?????

  15. I think Lilys deeds were Ninas insecurities playing with her hullcinations.
    Nina was so determined that she lost herself in the role and did what was necessary to feel like the blackswan.
    Because she had the white swan down to a tee.
    When she rebelled with her mother I think she needed to feel superior as the black did.

  16. There are multiple forms of both Nina and Lily in the movie: Old-Nina– timid, sweet, passive, afraid. Inner-Nina– (the depiction of Lily who sometimes transformed into Nina) passionate, strong, aggressive, sexual and sensual, outgoing, fearless. Lily– the actual character. Fun, beautiful, talented, strong, confident (this is who Thomas wants Nina to emulate). Lily’s character was good all throughout the movie. Last is Evil-Nina– controlling, jealous, angry, sexual, violent (this is the Nina we see toward the end. She yelled at her mother, smashed her hand, there when shes dancing alone in the mirror and her reflection turns before she does, this is the Nina who we see “having sex” with Thomas backstage).

    Nina was hallucinating throught most of the movie. It’s a coming of age film in which the main character–with prompting from her role as the lead in a ballet, and pressure from her mother and choreographer–begins to take control of her life and begins acting out passionately, violently, and aggressively>>all because the pressure to be perfect is too much for her to handle and she’s tired of doing what everyone else wants and feeling chained to their image of her–she wants to and eventually does break free of those chains. Lily represents the person that Nina wants to be like (free of insecurities, jealousy, loved by all, confident and free)–hence why Nina is jealous of her and acts harshly to her throughout the film.

    Everything up to the sex scene was real–with exceptions to her peeling her skin off and cutting her fingers and seeing visions of blood and herself. Lily really did slip something in her drink. But Nina went home alone. The scene where “Lily” pulled Nina to the car was symbollic of Nina’s inner, more expressive and strong, self (Inner-Nina) coming to the surface. The point where Old-Nina submitted to her true desires (“Lily” or “Inner-Nina”) was when “Lily” was in the car poking her (Old-Nina) leg and Nina was trying to ignore how it made her feel but eventually she gave in knowing she could no longer ignore it–she would be getting what she truly wanted–they clasped hands and Nina finally exhaled. (Notice Nina is always wearing white in the movie while Lily usually has on black. These colore represent their completely opposite personas. The day after this scene Nina begins wearing black, as Lily normally does–which symbolizes Inner-Nina taking control.)

    There is more evidence that the “Lily” from the cab scene wasn’t real and was truly Inner-Nina (aside from the fact tha the REAL Lily had no clue of what Nina was talking about when Nina mentioned the night that Lily and her spent together). The fake-Lily aka Inner-Nina theory becomes apparent when Nina came in the apartment noisily after going out for the night. Her mother only paid attention to Nina, she did not once pay notice to “Lily” (who is seen coming into the house but can only be TRULY seen beside Nina when there is no one else around). When her mother appears, “Lily” is seen in the mirror as if she were really in the room–but this “Lily” is not real, she represents Nina’s hallucinations–her inner self taking shape as the person Nina most wants to emulate. Her mother would’ve flipped out if Lily was truly there in the house and would’ve kicked Lily out. The “Lily” that we see is a representation of Nina’s growing independence and true-self coming to the surface. This true-self is strong, and independent minded, sexual, outspoken, fierce and determined to be respected.

    This Lily is the one we see hiding behind her when her mother storms after her demanding what is wrong with her (drugs and alcohol). This is also the Lily that, after submitting to the true desires of her heart, we see having sex with Nina. This inner-self that Nina sees in the room with her is depicted in the form of Lily, has sex with Nina which symbolizes the consumation their union–the merging of Old-Nina and Inner-Nina. She thus opens the gate for EVIL Nina to come to the surface.

    The end, where Nina is dancing as the white swan is actually Old-Nina. The effects and realization of her recent actions are beginning to take over her. She’s scared of losing herself (as Thomas instructed her to do–which is also what her mother’s last words were in fear of, Nina becoming someone different). This is why she falls from the prince’s arms while she’s hallucinating, seeing visions of “Lily” aka Inner-Nina all throughout the performance which increases her fear.

    When she goes back into her dressing room after having a panic attack she visualizes “Lily” aka Inner-Nina in her dressingroom. Her Inner-self felt jaded and betrayed after they consumated their union–which is why Inner-Nina taunts her and tells her that she (Old-Nina) needs to relinquish her hold over the body of Nina and give the reigns to Inner-Nina. After the argument, Inner-Nina wins and gets the chance to dance as the black swan. The shard of glass was still stuck inside of her and held in by the tight uniform she was wearing which is why she didnt bleed out just yet. This is where EVIL Nina emerges completely.

    Evil-Nina began getting comfortable with having full control (which is why she does so well dancing as the black swan). She basks in her accomplishment until she goes to her dressingroom and sees the aftermath of the fight. She feels as though she’s losing her mind and the control Evil-Nina has over Nina’s brain and body begins to waver. Evil-Nina’s hold breaks once the REAL Lily comes to her door to congratulate her. She closes the door and then looks in the room to find no body and no blood, and she looks down and realizes that she stabbed herself–this is when the realization of what she has been going through and what she had been doing hits her like a bag of bricks. She realizes that though she’s become in tune with herself and realizes that she has been neglecting the impulsive, agressive, emotion driven, desire seeking version of herself–she has made some terrible mistakes and that the stress of being perfect for everyone BUT herself started her down a path full of violence and she realizes that she has been hallucinating. The reason she begins to cry and continues to put on her makeup is because she realizes that she is more like the white swan than she thought and she is then regretting all of what she has done but she knows that the show must go on–she has to free herself from the grasp of those around her and start living for herself. She must finish the dance even if it kills her–since she has already killed a part of herself by submitteing to her desires. But Old-Nina’s last act and justice to herself is to do what she loves and do it as heself and not Evil-Nina.

    The movie ends with her looking out to the crowd, her mother and her peers. Her face was expressing regret and sorrow. She (Old-Nina) is bidding them adieu, for she knows that she cannot go back to being a push over, though she realizes that she cannot also succumb to the carnal desire and impulsiveness of Evil-Nina. This is the end of Old-Nina. She jumped–which symbolized her old self finally dying completely and it was Old-Nina AND Evil-Nina speaking to Thomas in the end saying that she felt what it was like to be perfect –both passionate and innocent (black and white swans)–The blood was real, that was the end of her hallucinations.

    It is unclear whether or not she dies, but we do get a P.O.V. switch from audience member to first-person (Nina) in the end–the light were blurry which symbolized Nina dying, but I believe that is symbolized OLD NINA dying, and not Nina as an entire person.

    This is all what I have observed, and it is my opinion. I do strongly believe that this is what occurs during the movie.

  17. The lesbian scene was put in to get guys into the theater.

  18. I noticed that when the camera angle was pulled out from the audiences stand point before Nina jumped at the end that the blood was little or non existent. But when they went back to her she had it all over. i was also thinking maybe she never even went to the ballet that day and she was dreaming she was there.

  19. Chubby Johnson

    What a bloody awful movie. The chick was UGLY. A skinny broad with an ugly mole on her face going through all this pain and aguish for what exactly? To be a stupid ballerina? Who CARES if she died in the end? This ho shouldn’t be breeding. Christ but women are fucked up creatures.

  20. @CHUBBY Johnson, I don’t know if you are saying all that bullshit out of ignorance (because you’re retarded) or jealousy (because you’re fat.) Either way, you’re the only fucked up creature here.

    As for my thoughts on the film which I just saw for the first time last night, it was definitely one of the best movies I have ever seen just because of the way it makes you think and the way how the movie plays with you throughout about which scenes are real and which scenes are Nina’s hallucinations. Not to mention the very sudden and not so sudden changes in the film. For example the part where Nina arrives late to rehearsal and Lily is performing Nina’s role. The first thing I thought was “Wow she was only trying to steal the part this whole time.” But instead we learn she had no such plan. A not so sudden change example would be how our attitudes towards the characters change over the course of the movie. Did anyone else have a bad opinion about Thomas that he at the beginning but as the film progressed he grows on the audience and isn’t as such a bad person as we initially thought. It’s the twists and turns like these that made the movie very enjoyable for me.

    For the ending though, I personally don’t think she died.

    I also do not believe she stabbed herself as severely in reality as we see portrayed on screen. What I am trying to say is I believe she only inflicted a LESSER injury on her stomach area to complete the transformation into the black swan.

    I implied this from the shots right before and after Nina jumps off the cliff,

    1. In the shot right when Nina is standing on top of the cliff before she jumps, we can see the blood beginning to spread on her uniform on HER lower left side. We then see the camera zoom out to the audience’s perspective. If you look closely the only TINY spot (that could be blood) that can be seen is now more towards her right side relative to where it was before. While this could have simply just been a mistake while filming I highly doubt it would be considering the gravity of the scene. Also in the shot from the audience’s perspective, the circumference of the bleeding clearly is much smaller than we were just led to believe.

    2. When all of Nina’s fellow ballerinas circle around her smiling and clapping enthusiastically for her. Surprisingly none of them have any sort of facial expression that would indicate to the movie audience “HOLY SHIT YOU ARE BLEEDING PROFUSELY FROM THE STOMACH!” Given the number of ballerinas circling Nina from all different angles, I do not believe her wound was as severe as we were shown it to be because otherwise they should have noticed. Also when Thomas comes to sit next to her he definitely would have seen all that blood UNLESS it had been something more minor that was less visible.

    3. Lily’s reaction to looking over at her stomach. It’s clear that something happened to Nina in reality but the question again is what was it? It isn’t until Lily notices the wound that all of the ballerinas notice it too which also supports the theory that the wound wasn’t as severe/noticeable. Also when Thomas than notices the wound, he asks her “What did you do?“ This again supports the theory that something must have happened to her stomach area.

    Realistically speaking it now makes sense that the wound must have in actuality been very small, and not bleeding as severely as we were led to believe otherwise everyone would have noticed it. Also by the wound being less severe it would allow her to more plausibly avoid dripping blood everywhere as well as being able to finish the performance.

    In summary, Nina couldn’t have stabbed herself like that in the reality of the film and continued to perform without everyone noticing blood appearing around her stomach, especially if she really did remove the piece of glass which would have only caused it to bleed more. Also between all the time of changing in the dressing room and performing on stage she definitely would have started bleeding more severely sooner than she did. Instead Nina only must have inflicted a small injury of some kind that wasn’t bleeding as much. This would explain all of the ballerinas and Thomas not noticing it until Lily points it out with her reaction. So her wound assuming it wasn’t as severe, shouldn’t be fatal to her I wouldn’t think. Unless she injected herself with something poisonous instead which again is possible but I don’t have any evidence now to support that. Or maybe she just carved a word onto her stomach. As the audience we can’t really find an answer to this question, but with theories of a lesser injury this can plausibly fill in as the “What did you do to yourself?”

    Those are my thoughts for now though. Let me know what you all think of my analysis :D

  21. jay from brooklyn

    I think there must have been some wound, just not as sever as she imagines, just sort of like a back scratch (she self inflicts thruout)

    About the lesbian scene- it is really a masturbation concept (she is insulation by her mom etc) and thats her imagination.

  22. matt from france

    i taught she was cursed by beth. . .

  23. @LANA C.
    amazing observation…
    My all doubts r clear…

  24. OMG IM LOST!

    i am so lost in this movie, everyone else it probably 20 + here, im 14 and i am taking into account everything you said, ( everyone ) and the explanation i came up with: NOTHING, i loved this movie, by far the best but the reason is that i know, in months from now i will still think about this ending and be completely lost.

    whoever made this is a master at manipulation, they produce this white swan into the black and then back to relise her mistake in stabbing the black swan.

    reading that you are probably lost too. that’s why i am.

    if that makes sense.

    i hope.

  25. It was a great movie and I have actually watched it twice now and noticed a few extra things that went unnoticed the first time around.

    1) During the first subway scene after her breakfast when Nina was making her way to the dance company, on the bus when she sees Lily, at first glance it’s actually an image of herself for a split second. So really this indicates the early hallucinations that Nina was having from the start. Check it out if you watch it again.

    2) After Thomas was harsh on her and she stayed back after practice was over sitting down crying, when Lily walks in and is a shadowed figure, Nina says “who is that?” the figure is actually Nina’s image until she steps out into the light and it’s Lily who then sits with Nina. Also did anyone notice that when Lily offers Nina a cigarette and Nina takes a drag, she doesn’t cough? For someone who seems so innocent I found this interesting and over looked. A non smoker would have been coughing like crazy by rights but she didn’t indicating that Nina probably did smoke in secret.

    3) There are two scenes in which we are able to see Nina actually scratching her back unconsciously. The scene where she goes to confront Lily in the dressing room for getting her in trouble with Thomas, on her way there she reaches her hand down her shirt and scratches before she asks Lily ” Can I talk to you? NOW!” Second time she is seen scratching is after her wild night out when she is late and rushes to the studio, when she hears her music right before she is horrified to see Lily filling in for her, Nina says “my music!” then she scratches her back as she rushes into the studio.

    I also believe that Nina never did show up to the performance. I think it was all one of her dreams. She had a severe nervous breakdown the night before, she collapses and hits her head then the next day she obviously had been sleeping the entire day since it was again evening and the night of her performance. When Nina woke up her mom mentioned that she told them Nina will not be performing because she was not well. I think Nina did wake up but temporarily and just started to hallucinate that she wrestled with her mom to get the door knob, get out of the room and run off to do her performance in her delusional state of mind. I think she dreamt all the events of the entire performance but didn’t actually make it there for real at all. All her crazy delusions seems like something that would actually happen in a dream, like how her neck grew long like a swans neck when she was choking herself with the mirror scene. How her toes where fused together like duck feet. She was seeing things on stage and hearing the other ballerinas laughing at her while continuing to see her own face on all of the other dancers. How when she danced as the black swan she grew all these black feathers including wings while dancing, she stabs herself but manages to do a perfect performance with no blood, and the final scene where she bits adieu she sees her mother in the audience and her mom looks so stressed out and crying and wearing the same clothes as she did at home where everyone else in the audience are dressed super formal if you look at them. So her mom wasn’t actually there either. Thomas and the other dancers come to her after she jumps and he calls her his little princess. It’s all a dream, with some strange things that happen just like we all experience in our dreams. Who has had a dream that is actually normal?? Also at the end when she appeared to be dying after her jump was her actually waking up from her dream just like she did in the very begging of the whole movie where she said “I dreamt I danced the white swan” So again I do strongly believe that Nina was not actually there all along and she never did make it to her performance but only dreamt she did and did it perfect like she always dreamed of doing. When people die in movies it usually goes black but in Nina’s case it went all white so I think she was waking up. Darren Aronofsky would not make such a brilliant film to just kill her off in the end which is way too predictable. But would more add a shocking twist for the audience finding out Nina was never really there after all.

  26. Along with every thing which appears to be building within this particular subject material, your opinions are generally quite exciting. Even so, I appologize, because I can not give credence to your whole strategy, all be it radical none the less. It looks to us that your comments are generally not entirely validated and in simple fact you are generally yourself not wholly certain of the assertion. In any case I did appreciate looking at it.

  27. I read all the review and the statement by Lana C seams to be most plausible or at least answered all my questions…..

  28. Lana C, chubby, all of you are pathetic. It was a movie…movie.MOVIE! You think the actor Nina is crazy read your comments, oh I’m sorry, your analysis.

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  30. All these explanations are very well thought out and in certain aspects supported. However, I don’t think ANY of them are true. I don’t believe the movie HAS a true explanation. The movie was made to make you think, was it not? So why then would the creator make a definitive answer to all questions? The movie was made to make you think and make your own assumptions. If they wanted a clear answer to be known, they would have made it apparent and not left it open ended. All of the analysis is very good though. I enjoyed reading them to see how other people think. As for my idea of what happened, I honestly have no clue, which is why I liked this movie so much.

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  33. I’ve watched this movie 2 times. Once a while ago and it left me wondering… and the second time tonight. I like this film. I think she doesn’t die in real life but she kills off the innocent white swan that she was. So in a way she can’t ever go back to who she was. The only question I have is did she really hurt Beth? I also think that her mother and Thomas were wanting her to be perfect and thats what brought on the hallucinations. She didn’t want to let herself down and let Lily take her role, thats why she carried on through the performance, also mixed in with adrenaline and she thought she wasn’t “her” that she was bird.

  34. Oh and to add to that (sorry) I think she might of dreamed of it (the whole thing). Like at the start she is said to her mother that she dreamed she was Swan Queen.

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  36. She couldn’t have died in the end. Impossible. Reason being that despite showing a lot of bleeding on her stomach before she jumped to the cushion, there was absolutely no reaction the supposed ‘large’ amount of bleeding when Thomas and cast congratulated her. There was quite a long period of congratulating.

    If bleeding was indeed real, the reaction to it should have been instant. Her draped in white and a large red spot in her belly whilst lying down in front of the whole cast?? The reaction to it should have been instant.

    But it wasn’t. I see it as yet another hallucination, imagining the reaction of Lily.

    As for the reaction of the rest of the cast, it’s highly likely they were reacting to the fact that she wasn’t getting up as she was already in a delusioned state of mind. Thomas notices this and asks ‘what she did to herself’.

  37. Aleff ^^^^^^^^^ – I think you nailed it. That was a great take and observation.

  38. Nina did not die. The fall was cushioned and tested as to protect their dancers. The mind is so powerful to that it can numb the pain of being stabbed and/or shot. Nina started to bleed only after she pulled out the glass from her wound as the white swan. That is a classic result of pulling out a penetrating object from the body. I’ve been in emergency medicine for over 17 years and once an object is pulled all the capillaries, veins and arteries start to really bleed as there is no resistance to the open wound.

  39. I think people’s comments which run along the lines of Nanegt’s and Chubby’s are pointless and irrelevant. You’re just wasting time. If people want to sit and analyse films, it’s their business. Film is art, it’s subjective and something which is not only studied by many but also a multi-billion pound industry that has been around for years. So maybe you shouldn’t be knocking it?

    In my opinion, Lana C’s explanation is the most comprehensive and makes sense in terms of the mental health issues and conceptual ideas addressed in the film.


  40. Hi, I’ve only just watched this and really enjoyed it, as bizarre as it was. I also really enjoyed listening to people’s comments. I think the “death” was symbolic and was the “death” of the white swan. I also agree that it could be that she dreamt it/was having a psychotic episode. Real thought provoking film which incorporates the story of Swan Lake.

  41. I’ve watched this movie quite a few times now, mostly because I love ballet, and each time my opinion as to what happens changes.

    That’s what is so amazing about Black Swan.
    And there, even in the title: it is the story of the black swan, not the white one.

    My thoughts are that the very beginning, where we see the white ad black swans dance together, is a foreshadow of the story. Whereas at the start Nina is white, dresses in white and is so obsessed about perfection, during the film she slowly becomes manipulative, cunning and violent, black one. If you listen closely, each time the black makes an appearance, a distinct sound can be heard.
    Before the story began, we know that Nina is obsessive, has trouble controlling emotions and was sheltered by her mother. However, we also know that she is a liar (I finished it at home) and a thief. Therefore, she has some black in her already, but keeps it out of her dancing and only lets it out in jealous fits. She is also manipulative (asks for the part, knowing Thomas is a player, she comes with makeup to him).
    It seems to me that, because she tries to look and be so innocent and pure, all her darkness comes in bursts and she can’t control it.

    I the last scene, when she turns, we can once more hear the distinct black swan noise, which suggests that it is tryig to take control once more. I think that it is actually the black swan that is dying, as it was the dark costumed character that was stabbed and in the end Nina goes back to her perfection-seeking self from the beginning. Also, everything fades to WHITE, not black.

    Just my thooughts. Did the producer, writer not answed this question in any interview?

  42. I did not see the movie, but I know the story.
    The girl in the movie has a split personality, because she is a prisioner of the people she grew up with and future victim of a ritual.
    Her subconsious devides her personality into the starcrossed girl that she is and than the girl that others want her to become, to be her.

    Manipulation, verbally, visually, psysically, psychologically is causing the stress that she cannot define, leading to a desperate search of her true identity.
    She always tries to balance the two “roles”. Her own and the one that she is forced to play.
    She has had a rare chance to develop her own potential to the fullest due constant controll. She has been interrupted everytime she tried to follow her goals, she is just a constantly watched muse to serve the Group she is trapped in. Good elements will be taken by the one that hold her leash later, when she will be doomed for the evil that has been forwarded to her as part of a ritual from those who torture her.
    All this is only possible because a family members actually allows others to abuse her for this. Thats why it could be called a Ritual.

    Emaple: “Carrie”- The Horromovie and “Carrie” from “Sex and the City”.

    Dark side and bright side.

    Her insane appearance is the perfect excuse to ingnore her, so she fight herself by trying to kill parts ofherself she cannot identity with.

    The outside world has a picture of her, that she constantly tries to defend.She tries to seperate from what she is not. While others forward their mistake within a ritual onto other, she fights herself not trying to blame anyone, but herself.

    All good is collected and projected into one character, and all evil is taken and projected into another woman, that she will never be.
    The world wants to believe there is only a good and a bad. They cannot deal with their own mistakes unless due rituals. Since we are all good and bad, she turns sick, because she finally identifies herself entirely with evil.
    She is looking for the best there is only to diminish all the bad that is forwarded to her- thats her part as Muse. She is a victim constantly bathed in guilt.
    A cinderella story of a girl who is supposed to split evil from good without harming others. Finding solutions for those who have lost themselve in a crime and need release.
    God had a plan to release her in the end, by sending her a pumkin that takes her to the ball, but the Evil does not believe in God so they
    Smash her pumpkin to the ball in 1995.
    She is not stabbing herself, she stabs the evil thats forwarded to her.

  43. She is also controlled by a couple of twingirls. One is copying her identity and becomes her, while the other twin spreads a false image of her in the media, which makes it impossible for Nina to escape her fate.

  44. Oh, she stabs herself. If is not symbolic or rhetoric. And she quite possibly could have died from her injuries. She puts the pain out of her mind to finish the dream. It is possible as athletes so committed to the finish can kill themselves in the process. Just look at the number of cyclist that died of cardiac arrest in the tour de France, or Tyler Hamilton riding for weeks with a broken collarbone. Or just look at any Ironman top 10 finisher, they are is severe pain. I believe it was Nina’s swan song.

  45. Actually Natalie Portman answered this in an interview (I saw it on YouTube and don’t remember who interviewed her) she said that her and Daren discussed that she actually got her period and it was a symbol of her womanhood. That is what they meant to portray, but if I wouldn’t have heard it come out of Natalies mouth I don’t think I or anyone else would have come to that conclusion. It kind of makes sense I guess as many of these woman/girls in ballet are slow to develop due to severe weight loss and stress, so I guess I can see that.

  46. There never was a Lily….

  47. Natalie Portman

    Guys….,Don’t you notice that when Nina was in her White Swan dress….the piece of glass was stuck not in enough and she manages to pull it out….that means she stabbeb her self not when she thought she stabbeb lily but after the black swan performence…..eventhough in her imaginations she stabbed someone but there was nobody there…..oe this is just another movie mistake..

  48. After Nina performed the Black Swan role perfectly, she had to transform herself mentally and emotionally back into the White Swan and then started to see reality. In the moment when she’s dancing and sees her Mother in the Audience – crying, Nina realizes that a part of her has died – the part that was always nice, always compliant, always people-pleasing, and that a new ‘Dark’ side of her has been born or released – she is at first, afraid of this new ‘Dark’ side, but continues with it’s sheer power of accomplishment and the ectasy of excitement and pain. By killing Lily figuratively – Nina coveted and got Lily’s Dark qualities and at the same time, killed the Light side of herself that was always afraid and tortured by her own demons. Nina obviously did stab herself with the shard of mirror. In other scenes throughout the film, she keeps seeing her double, sometimes transforming into other people, so wanting to be the Black Swan, Nina figured that it was important that her old self be murdered, only then, could she become the Black Swan, and dance with abandon, and live with abandon. As for Nina’s mother – she’s crying because she KNOWS that she’s lost her ‘Sweet Girl’. Perhaps, there may have been sexual and physical abuse of Nina by her Mother, because her Mother coveted Nina’s accomplishments, her career, her life. Her Mother wanted to BE Nina and by having that power over her, she felt in control over Nina.

    It is very possible, by the way, to dance or do physical activities with a serious wound or injury, when you become so obsessed, the mind takes over temporarily before the body succombs to it’s injuries. It is a ‘high’. It’s happened to me.

    In the final scene where Thomas asks Nina, “what did you do?” and she answers him, while looking up into the light – “I was perfect.” She knew at that moment that she succeeded in her wildest dreams. Thus, the ‘old’ Nina dies and another one is born – the ‘Dark One’ – the Black Swan. Nina is now free – free of her Mother and free of her Demons and everybody else who has used her.

  49. In follow-up to my earlier comment, there is always a Duality about Nina, she’s torn between what she really wants to do, and what she has to do to get along in life and with others. It is a raging battle and a struggle to remain in balance. Her choice, is life, by ‘killing’ her old self and by breaking ties with her Mother and giving in to dancing and living with abandon.

  50. I feel the end where Nina “dies” is very symbolic. To sum up my thoughts, it’s symbolic in that the old white swan Nina dies. The whole movie we watch Nina grow from an innocent naive “white swan” into a devilish and more daring “black swan” through the different experiences and scenes. I feel the end also is the start of a new Nina who finds the balance between the inner white and black swan. In the middle of the movie, we can see the black swan consumes Nina. But this is just how I interpreted the movie.

  51. She did not die. Yeah she was bleeding, but she didn’t die. They’ll patch her up and she’ll be back.

  52. The way I interpreted the movie was that Nina is a paranoid schizophrenic with a dissociative personality disorder. Schizophrenia is often thought to be triggered by stress and under the stress of her role her schizophrenia was triggered which accounts for her delusions and hallucinations. She also began seeing herself as two different people, Nina and Lily (who, to clarify, was a real person in the film but whose image became associated with Nina’s dark, black swan side), in order to better embody her role. This split identity I feel is best shown in the scene where “Lily” shows up at Nina’s door, but her mother tells her there was no one there. We are led to believe that her overprotective mother was simply not telling Nina who it was so she could keep her inside, but I think there might have actually been no one there. This also accounts for her mother’s constant interrupting of the conversation between Nina and “Lily.” You wouldn’t constantly interrupt two people talking, but you would try to talk sense into someone who is frantically talking to them self. Nina’s attitude toward her mother is even reflected in “Lily’s” dialogue which further suggests that, in this scene, Lily is serving as Nina’s second identity. So, as for the end of the film, Nina thought she had stabbed Lily, but she had actually stabbed her second personality which takes the form of Lily, hence she did in fact stab herself. The reaction of her fellow dancers after her fall further suggests that she did actually stab herself. They wouldn’t freak out like they do if they suddenly realized she was suffering from mental illness. Furthermore, the final shot of the lights and the blurring out is a common symbol for the “light at the end of the tunnel” that is often associated with someone dying. Sure you could argue that she merely fainted from blood loss, but given no other evidence it seems more likely to me that she died. Not to mention her death fits nicely with the parallel of the Swan Lake story.

  53. She imagined Lilly the whole way. That was her alter ego. When she killed her alter ego, she ‘killed’ the separation between the two and became whole (i.e. both the black and the white swan, rather than a dualistic or split personality). She did not hallucinate Lilly. That was just the cinematographic expression of her inner struggle.

    Did she die at the end? Yes and no. The old Nina was no more. She could never go back to that old form. So in a figurative sense she died. She was now a true artist. To ask if she really died is asking the wrong question. When, earlier on, she pulled a tiny black feather out of the scratch wound on her back, did you think that was a real feather?

    Again, she did not hallucinate, nor was she crazy. She underwent a metamorphosis and the movie choose a certain form of expressing that. That’s why it’s more of an art house movie than a flick for the summer block buster crowd.

  54. Schantal, I actually just watched that interview- she wasn’t saying it was Nina’s literal period. The interviewer was talking about how the movie was a coming-of-age story, and Natalie Portman said that she had mentioned to the director that with the blood on her legs, it looked like Nina was on her period, and the director had answered that it was intentional. That last scene was Nina no longer being an innocent little girl, and becoming a woman (the way a girl getting her period is often thought of). :)

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  56. My question is, was Lily real? Not metaphysical? Not a conduit to the black swan?….. just a thought. Xx

  57. I think the meaning is that she killed her innocense when she stabbed Lily and that’s why she didn’t bleed when she was black swan. Her innocense died at the end, she didn’t

  58. I think Lily gasps in the end because Nina really is passing out – fainting, but not bleeding. The lights shot gives me such thought.

  59. Nina cuts herself because she is unable to verbally express the inner torment she experiences due to her living a life so far away from her unfulfilled dream life. The movie plays with the audience through Nina’s fantasies and unactualized wish fulfillments through her delusions and hallucinations. Nina although physically perfect feels so uncompletely helpless to achieve her dream of independence from her (s)mother wanting to be strong and confident as a mature young woman feeling complete from the inside as opposed to the outside in. Although she has a physically strong core/center, emotionally she is weak and feels extremely helpless.

  60. People take for granted how hard it is to stab someone and its as twice as hard to pull it out. Nina pulled out that glass shard like it was a splinter but in reality she would have had to struggle with it for at least an hour before she manged to make it come loose. Not to mention this process would be really painful. She might have stabbed herself a little bit but even then pulling a glass shared out of yourself is still a nightmare and if thats the case she wouldn’t be able to die from that.

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  63. MasterFapper

    I think she should have masturbated more. ;)

  64. Elouise Rose

    The title of the movie is “Black Swan”. The entire movie is simply the story of Nina transforming herself into the Black Swan.

    The White Swan is her former self — the young, shy, naive, timid girl who lives with her controlling mother and allows people to walk all over her. The Black Swan is who she needs to become, both in the performance and in real life — a mature, independent, assertive seductress who can handle herself on her own. The movie is her coming-of-age transformation from a girl to a woman, from being dependent on her mother to being her own person.

    We cannot use any of the final scenes as “proof” that she died, because most of the movie is entirely made up in Nina’s mind. She imagined most of the events in order to become the Black Swan that she so desperately needed to be for the role. Her mother refers to her as “the most dedicated dancer in the company”, and it’s because Nina is willing to do whatever it takes, even if that means driving herself insane to become the character.

    This is why I don’t believe she died. I believe she imagined she was stabbing Lily in order to become the Black Swan. Then, she imagined she had stabbed herself in order to regain the sadness and hopelessness of the White Swan. And finally, she imagined she was dying in the end because that’s what it took to achieve perfection in the finale of Swan Lake. None of it was actually real, it was just what she had to imagine in order to “lose herself” as the director had instructed her to do.

    As far as what the ending means? I share the same opinion as Natalie Portman. It was not Nina dying literally — it was the death of the White Swan inside of her. The death of the shy and timid girl that she had held onto for too many years. She wanted to be perfect for so long and she finally realized that being perfect was about letting go of her former self. That’s why the last lines are, “I felt it. I was perfect.”

  65. Very late in watching this DVD, thoroughly enjoyed the film but my brain has been turned into scrambled eggs!

  66. I am admittedly extremely late watching this film, but as a Natalie Portman fan and lover of psychological thrillers, I am very glad I finally got round to it.

    I’ve spent roughly the last hour engrossed in the many theories there are about this film and the two accounts here I agree with most and find to be most plausible are those by Lana C. and Dan. I certainly believe it is very possible that Nina had some sort of a personality disorder and that the stress she faced from the pressure to be perfect was linked with this, that ‘Lily’ – the one we see lead innocent Nina astray, the one we see have sex with Nina, the one we see sat in Nina’s dressing room dressed as the black swan, the one we see Nina stab – is, in actual fact, Nina’s alter ego or the confident, fearless, free, sexually promiscuous persona that both Nina herself and Thomas want her to adopt. Which explains the jealousy and/or hatred Nina harbours towards (actual) Lily. For instance, the fight in the dressing room. It is safe to say that Nina literally stabbed herself, wanting to inflict pain on her, let’s say, darker side, as it was clearly changing her and causing her to lose control of her inhibitions. I also agree that it’s possible the tight costumes could have acted as pressure on the wound and as a result counteracted the bleeding (as well as the shard of glass still being lodged in her stomach) up until she realised that she’d actually stabbed herself. In response to those who argue that it seems a bit absurd for someone to simply not notice that they’d stabbed themselves, let’s not forget that yes, ballerinas are required to have a high pain threshold and Nina was so devoted to the role that it is understandable that she could have powered through the pain, and more importantly, Nina was hallucinating throughout the duration of the film – the fight was a hallucination and she had hallucinated that she’d stabbed Lily, so she responded accordingly. This is all clarified when reality – the real Lily – knocks at her door to congratulate her and Nina is hit with the now-unmistakable realisation that she had injured herself. This is real.

    Something I was surprised didn’t get picked up on as much as I thought it would was the general theme of the pressure to be perfect. Whilst I didn’t particularly perceive Black Swan as a ‘coming-of-age’ film as others have, this element was undeniable. It’s only now that I realise Beth’s character possibly acted as a foreshadowing of what was to come for Nina. Beth was once like her; young, the lead role, Thomas’ ‘little princess.’ We see Beth derail, feel replaced by Nina and eventually die. With Nina essentially replacing Beth and being next in line, there is the possibility of a cycle, which would suggest Nina was the next victim. Thomas suggested that it was suicide, which provokes the thought of having everything Nina now had being taken away from her being what made her do it. However, regardless of whether it was suicide or not, you could say that the pressure she felt to be perfect eventually killed her, and it would potentially end up killing Nina.

    At the end of the film, as an audience, it is natural for us to wonder if Nina died or not, as she is seen to have what could be a fatal wound and the screen fades out to white which can typically be associated with dying. A film like this is open to interpretation. While it is possible that Nina would have died, I think it is also probable and most likely that the bleeding in conjunction with the final fall onto the mattress was symbolic of that dark, controlling, jealous, evil part of her dying instead. Plus, she tells Thomas, ‘I felt it. I was perfect’ which serves as a confirmation that it was over, the ‘black swan’ or her alter ego was figuratively dead.

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