AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Black Swan
Alternate Title: The Understudy
Director: Darren Aronofsky (Dir)
Release Date:   3 Dec 2010
Premiere Information:   Venice Film Festival screening: 1 Sep 2010; Telluride Film Festival screening: 5 Sep 2010
Production Date:   7 Dec 2009--11 Feb 2010
Duration (in mins):   108 or 110
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Cast:   Natalie Portman (Nina Sayers/The Swan Queen)  
    Vincent Cassel (Thomas Leroy/The Gentleman)  
    Mila Kunis (Lily/The Black Swan)  
    Barbara Hershey (Erica Sayers/The Queen)  
    Winona Ryder (Beth Macintyre/The Dying Swan)  
    Benjamin Millepied (David/The Prince)  
    Ksenia Solo (Veronica/Little Swan)  
    Kristina Anapau (Galina/Little Swan)  
    Janet Montgomery (Madeline/Little Swan)  
    Sebastian Stan (Andrew/Suitor)  
    Toby Hemingway (Tom/Suitor)  
    Sergio Torrado (Sergio/Rothbart)  
    Mark Margolis (Mr. Fithian/Patron)  
    Tina Sloan (Mrs. Fithian/Patron)  
    Abe Aronofsky (Mr. Stein/Patron)  
    Charlotte Aronofsky (Mrs. Stein/Patron)  
    Marcia Jean Kurtz (Costumer Georgina)  
    Shaun O'Hagan (Stage Manager Sebastian)  
    Christopher Gartin (Sexy Waiter Scott)  
    Deborah Offner (Administrator Susie)  
    Stanley B. Herman (Uncle Hank)  
    Michelle Rodriguez Nouel (Physical therapist)  
    Kurt Froman (Understudy for Siegfried)  
    Marty Krzywonos (Conductor)  
    Leslie Lyles (Nurse)  
    John Epperson (Jaded Piano Player)  
    Arkadiy Figlin (Piano player)  
    Timothy Fain (Violin player)  
    Sarah Lane (Lady in the lane)  
    Liam Flaherty (Man in stall)  
    Patrick Heusinger (Rich gent)  
  Ballet mistresses: Marina Stavitskaya    
    Christine Redpath    
    Olga Kostritzky    
    Alexandra Damiani    
  Corps de ballet: Rebecca Azenberg    
    Rachel Jambois    
    Laura Bowman    
    Ryoko Sadoshima    
    Holly L. Fusco    
    Kaia A. Tack    
    Abigail Mentzer    
    Lauren Fadeley    
    Barette Vance    
    Sarah Hay    
    Lillian Di Piazza    
    Adrianna De Svastich    
    Megan Dickinson    
    Jamie Wolf    
    Jessy Hendrickson    
    Carrie Lee Riggins    
    Geneviève Lebean    
    Gina Artese    

Summary: Nina Sayers, a soloist in a New York dance company, lives a sheltered existence, single-mindedly dedicated to perfecting her technique. Her mother, Erica, danced in the ballet chorus until she became pregnant and now lives vicariously through Nina’s career. Over-protective yet envious, Erica smothers Nina, who still keeps stuffed animals and a child’s ballerina music box in her pink bedroom. Although the discipline of the dance and Erica’s obsessive hovering has kept Nina innocently sweet, she increasingly sees images of a darker version of herself projected onto the faces of strangers and hears voices that laugh and taunt her. One morning Nina awakens from a dream that she is dancing the coveted role of the “Swan Queen.” Later, at the theater, the troupe is abuzz with gossip that company director, Thomas Leroy, is replacing Beth Macintyre, the forty-ish principal dancer who is also his lover. During rehearsal, Thomas confirms the rumor by announcing that the troupe’s new season will open with the classic, Swan Lake , and that he will cast fresh talent in the dual role of the “White Swan” and the “Black Swan.” As the dancers warm up, Thomas briefly reviews the ballet’s story of a virginal girl trapped in a swan’s body by a spell only true love can break. He says that the prince who loves her is tricked and seduced by her lustful twin, a black swan, causing the devastated white swan to leap off a cliff, where in death she finds freedom. That afternoon Nina sneaks into the dressing room of Beth, who she admires, and steals her lipstick. At Nina’s audition, Thomas says she is ideal for the White Swan but he doubts she can portray the Black Swan. As Nina dances, he tells her to “lose control” and seduce the audience, but her performance is interrupted by Lily, a new dancer to the company who bursts into the room and causes Nina to lose concentration. The next day, Nina meets with Thomas to ask for the role, but he says he has chosen another dancer. He tells Nina that she is beautiful, fearful and fragile, but that perfection is not about control and she never loses herself in the dance. He then kisses her passionately, but, startled, she bites him, apologizes and leaves. Later, Nina learns that she has been cast as the Swan Queen. After vomiting in a toilet stall, she calls Erica to tell her the news, and then is upset to see the word, “whore,” scrawled in red across the restroom mirror. To celebrate, Erica buys a huge cake for the two of them, but Nina is too nervous to enjoy it. However, because her refusal makes Erica hurt and angry, Nina forces herself to eat. Another day while rehearsing with David, the dancer portraying “The Prince,” Thomas again urges Nina to embody the evil twin. During Nina’s break, she watches Lily dance with exuberance and Thomas points out that Lily is imprecise but effortless. At an event for ballet supporters, Thomas announces Beth’s retirement and introduces Nina. Afterward, Nina takes refuge in the toilet, where Lily finds her and tries unsuccessfully to initiate a conversation. Outside, a drunken Beth confronts Nina and bitterly suggests that she traded sexual favors to get the role. Thomas invites Nina to his apartment for a drink, where he asks Nina intrusive questions about her sexual history. When she demurs, he instructs her to go home and “touch” herself in order to relax. At home, Erica insists on helping Nina undress and, discovering scratch marks on her back from a nervous habit, cuts Nina’s fingernails. Early the next morning, Nina attempts to masturbate as Thomas advised, but discovers that Erica has fallen asleep in a chair in her room. That day, Nina learns that Beth has been hospitalized after being hit by a car. Thomas tells Nina that he suspects Beth caused the accident, because she acts on dark impulses, and adds that the dark side may be the reason that her dancing was thrilling to watch. During her rehearsal with David, Thomas calls Nina’s dancing “frigid,” then detains her when the others leave. He has her dance with him and, asking her to respond to the touch of his roving hand, kisses her passionately. After she is feverish with desire, he stops, tells her to do the seducing and departs. Left alone, Nina is weeping when Lily enters and, breaking rules, smokes. Although Nina is reticent about her troubles, Lily suggests that Thomas is a “prick” and when Nina defends him, Lily teases that she is attracted to him. That night in her bath, Nina touches herself, but has a frightening vision of blood and of someone, perhaps herself, floating prostrate above her. At the next rehearsal, Thomas accuses Nina of whining to Lily. Incensed, Nina confronts Lily, who defends herself, saying that she told Thomas to ease up on Nina. At home that night, Erica demands to look at the scratches on Nina’s back, but Nina refuses. Unexpectedly, Lily arrives to apologize and, against Erica’s wishes, Nina goes to dinner with her. Nina watches Lily flirt with the waiter and, at a nightclub, discovers she has picked up two men. To help her relax, Lily spikes Nina’s drink, promising the drug’s effect will last only a couple hours. The drug frees Nina, who dances seductively with Lily and the men, then finds herself engaged in sex with a stranger in the toilet. She runs out to hail a cab, and Lily follows. When Nina arrives home, she demands privacy and pulls Lily into her bedroom, where they kiss passionately. As the two have frenzied sex, Nina sees herself instead of Lily, but the spell is quickly broken and she loses herself in an orgasm. When she awakens the next morning, Lily is not there. Rushing to the theater, Nina finds Lily filling in for her, dancing the Swan Queen. Denying that she went home with Nina, Lily teases Nina for fantasizing about her. Throughout the day, Nina becomes increasingly paranoid about Lily and vomits, and that evening, she throws her stuffed animals in the garbage chute. The day before the opening performance, Nina rehearses the death of the White Swan, in which she drops into a pit onto a cushion. As she has her costume fitted, Nina imagines that her reflection in the mirror moves independently of her. When Thomas chooses Lily as her alternate, Nina begs him to choose another, arguing that Lily wants to replace her. Amused, Thomas says everyone wants Nina’s role and tells her, “Tomorrow is yours.” That night, Nina remains at the theater practicing relentlessly until the piano player refuses to continue. While she is alone in the rehearsal room, someone turns off the theater’s master switch and the room goes dark. Believing she hears laughter and movement, Nina follows the sound to the stage, where she thinks she sees Thomas and Lily making frantic love. Nina runs to her dressing room, grabs several items that she purloined from Beth and proceeds to her hospital room. There she lays out earrings, a nail file, a small bottle of cologne, a packet of cigarettes and lipstick. Awakening, Beth accuses her of stealing her belongings, but Nina apologizes and explains that she wants to be perfect like her. Beth says she is not perfect, then repeatedly stabs herself in the face with the nail file. Nina struggles to stop her, but then runs to the elevator where she finds the bloody nail file in her hand. After she returns home, Beth appears to her, but she is only in Nina’s imagination. Believing she hears Erica crying, Nina enters her bedroom, where faces in the portraits in the room talk to her all at once. She thinks she sees Beth again, but realizes it is Erica. After locking herself in her own bedroom, Nina looks in the mirror and sees her eyes turning red. She pulls little black feathers from the scratch wounds on her back. Concerned, Erica breaks through the door’s lock, but Nina repeatedly slams the door on her hand. After pushing Erica out, Nina’s body contorts and her legs bend backward like a swan’s, which causes her to fall and hit her head. The next morning, she awakens late in the day and finds that Erica has her locked in her room and has told the company that she is ill. Nina fights her for the key and proceeds to the theater, where Thomas has already asked Lily to perform in her stead. However, when Nina insists that she will perform, Thomas tells her Nina that she stands in her own way and advises that she lose herself. As she dresses, Nina imagines that her toes are webbing. On cue, she enters the stage and dances the White Swan. From the wings, she thinks she sees Lily caressing The Prince. When Nina and The Prince dance together, he drops her, but Nina continues dancing behind tears. Between acts, Nina finds Lily in her dressing room. Lily says Nina is not up to dancing the Black Swan, and her face turns into Nina’s face. Nina pushes Lily into a full length mirror, which breaks. As they struggle, Nina insists that it is her turn. With a glass shard from the mirror, Nina stabs Lily in the stomach, killing her, then hides the body in the shower. As she enters the stage for the next act as the Black Swan, Nina’s eyes turn red. Fearsome and free, she seduces The Prince and the audience cheers. Backstage as she waits for her cue, Nina feels her arms grow black feathers. As she takes a bow after the act, the crowd calls her name. Backstage, she kisses Thomas passionately, then returns to her dressing room to prepare for the last act. Seeing blood seeping out of the shower room, Nina covers it with a towel and begins dressing as the White Swan. A knock at the door proves to be Lily, who wants to congratulate her on her performance. Acknowledging the problems between them, Lily apologizes before she leaves. Confused, Nina looks under the towel and sees no blood, and there is no one in the shower. Upon discovering a hole in her costume, Nina pulls a glass shard out of her stomach, but returns to the stage for the final act. For the death scene of the White Swan, Nina falls onto the cushion, as the audience and other performers cheer. When the audience repeatedly calls her name, Thomas urges Nina to return to the stage for a bow. Lily is the first to see the growing blood stain at Nina’s stomach and gasps. Thomas asks Nina what she has done to herself and Nina responds, “I felt it. I was perfect.” 

Production Company: Prøtøzøa  
  Phoenix Pictures  
Production Text: A Film by Darren Aronofsky
Made in association with Dune Entertainment
Distribution Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures  
  Cross Creek Pictures  
Director: Darren Aronofsky (Dir)
  Joseph Reidy (1st asst dir)
  Amy Lauritsen (2d asst dir)
  Travis Rehwaldt (2d 2d asst dir)
  Jennifer Roth (Unit prod mgr)
Producer: Mike Medavoy (Prod)
  Arnold W. Messer (Prod)
  Brian Oliver (Prod)
  Scott Franklin (Prod)
  Bradley J. Fischer (Exec prod)
  Peter Fruchtman (Exec prod)
  Ari Handel (Exec prod)
  Jon Avnet (Exec prod)
  Rick Schwartz (Exec prod)
  Tyler Thompson (Exec prod)
  David Thwaites (Exec prod)
  Jennifer Roth (Exec prod)
  Joseph Reidy (Co-prod)
  Gerald Fruchtman (Co-prod)
  Able Equipment (Cranes and dollies by)
Writer: Mark Heyman (Scr)
  John McLaughlin (Scr)
  Andrés Heinz (Scr)
  Andrés Heinz (Story)
Photography: Matthew Libatique (Dir of photog)
  Stephen Consentino (Cam op)
  Joseph Cicio (Cam op)
  Aurelia J. Winborn (1st asst cam)
  Kris Enos (2d asst cam)
  Eve Strickman (Cam loader)
  Devin Donegan (Video assist)
  Andrew Schmetterling (Addl video assist)
  John G. Velez (Gaffer)
  Mo Flam (Gaffer)
  Gavin Curran (Rigging gaffer)
  Louis Petraglia (Best boy rigging elec)
  Kumae R. Sandy (Best boy elec)
  Duane Chan-Shue (Company elec)
  Frida Marzouk (Company elec)
  Samuel Gonzalez Jr. (Company elec)
  Ryan A. Rodriguez (Company elec)
  Kabkeo "Ozzie" Phothivongsa (Company elec)
  Joe Sciretta (Const elec)
  Jim Galvin (Dimmer board op)
  Michael A. Leo (Gen op)
  Nicholas Cupkovic (Gen op)
  Lamont Crawford (Key grip)
  Tony Arnaud (Best boy grip)
  Benjamin D'Andrea (Dolly grip)
  David McAllister (Company grip)
  Shaka Brookes (Company grip)
  Jonathan Dahan (Company grip)
  Rashad Clinton (Company grip)
  Nick Vaccaro (Rigging key grip)
  Brent Hirn (Rigging best boy grip)
  Danielle Krudy (Cam intern)
  Niko Tavernise (Still photog)
Art Direction: Thérèse DePrez (Prod des)
  David Stein (Art dir)
  Miriam Johnson (Art dept coord)
  Derrick Kardos (Graphic artist)
  Aimee Athnos (Art dept prod asst)
  Tim Chung (Art dept intern)
  Daniel Hahn (Art dept intern)
  Scott Girshek (Art dept intern)
  Chris Wolfgang Mauch (Storyboards)
Film Editor: Andrew Weisblum (Film ed)
  Jeff Robinson (Post prod supv)
  Kent Blocher (1st asst ed)
  Irene Kassow (Asst ed)
  Zana Bochar (Apprentice ed)
  Andreas Fehrle (Apprentice ed)
  Eric Glatt (Post prod asst)
  Sixteen19 (Post prod facilities provided by)
Set Decoration: Tora Peterson (Set dec)
  Scott Gagnon (Leadman)
  Daniel Fisher (Prop master)
  Max Sherwood (Asst prop master)
  Jasmine Ballou (Asst prop master)
  Greg Sullivan (Charge scenic)
  Max Nissenholtz (Cam scenic)
  Ian Zdatny (Scenic foreman)
  Ernie Sandidge (Scenic foreman)
  Caroline Irons (Scenic)
  Don Nace (Scenic)
  Wolfe Dieter (Scenic)
  Nancy Branton (Scenic)
  Bobby Provenzano (Set dress foreman)
  Hank Liebeskind (Set dresser)
  Jeff Rollins (On set dresser)
  Richard Tenewitz (Const coord)
  Daniel D. Kirsch (Const foreman)
  William Garvey (Best boy const grip)
  Andrew Velenchenko (Key carpenter)
  Noreen E. Souza-Bailey (Const prod asst)
  Alyssa Frankel (Set intern)
  Ama Ampadu (Set intern)
Costumes: Amy Westcott (Cost des)
  Kate Mulleavy (Ballet cost des, Rodarte)
  Laura Mulleavy (Ballet cost des, Rodarte)
  Rodarte (Ballet cost)
  Rebecca Hofherr (Asst cost des)
  Jennifer Ingram (Cost supv)
  Nicci Schinman (Set cost)
  Nina Cinelli (Set cost)
  Angela Mirabella (Set cost)
  David Turk (Addl set cost)
  Amanda Sroka (Addl set cost)
  Aurora Andrews (Ward prod asst)
  Ariel White (Ward intern)
  Jessica Held (Ward intern)
Music: Clint Mansell (Orig score by)
  Jim Black (Mus supv)
  Gabe Hilfer (Mus supv)
  Nancy Allen (Mus ed)
  Mick Gormaley (Assoc mus ed)
  Matt Dunkley (Score cond & orch by)
  Isobel Griffiths (Score contracted by)
  Charlotte Matthews (Asst score orch contractor)
  Jill Streater (Score preparations by)
  David Russell (Score preparations by)
  Geoff Foster (Score rec and mixed by)
  Air Studios, London UK (Score rec & mixed at)
  Adam Miller (Asst eng)
  Fiona Cruickshank (Asst eng)
  Nigel Wiesehan (Tech asst/Guitar viol)
  Chris Benstead (Mus consultant)
  Simon Chamberlain (Piano)
  Rolf Wilson (Solo violin)
  John Bradbury (Solo violin)
  Duotone Audio Group (Addl prod by)
  David Russell (Midi preparation)
  Mary Anne Hobbs (Rec artist liaison)
Sound: Ken Ishii (Prod sd mixer)
  Anguibe Guindo (Boom person)
  Brendan O'Brien (Addl boom person)
  Seth Tallman (Addl boom person)
  Joe Origlieri (Cable person)
  Craig Henighan (Supv sd ed)
  Dominick Tavella (Re-rec mixer)
  Craig Henighan (Re-rec mixer)
  Brian Emrich (Sd des)
  Craig Heighan (Sd des)
  Jill Purdy (Supv dial & ADR ed)
  Wayne Lemmer (SFX ed)
  Steve Baine (Foley artist)
  Peter Persaud (Foley rec)
  Gina Wark (Foley asst)
  Coll Anderson (SFX rec)
  Nelson Ferreira (SFX rec)
  Harry Higgins (Rec)
  Drew Gescheit (Rec)
  Avi Laniado (Mix eng)
  Bobby Johanson (ADR mixer)
  Kris Chevannes (ADR rec)
  Sound One Corp (Post prod sd facility)
Special Effects: Dan Schrecker (Visual eff supv)
  Colleen Bachman (Visual eff prod)
  Ray Lewis (Club images manipulated and des)
  Rose Garnett (Assoc prod [Club images])
  Conrad Brink (Spec eff coord)
  Michael Bird (Spec eff tech)
  Look Effects, Inc. (Visual eff by)
  Henrik Fett (Addl visual eff supv, Look Effects)
  Melinka Thompson-Godoy (Addl visual eff prod, Look Effects)
  Matt Kushner (Visual eff coord, Look Effects)
  Niko Tavernise (Visual eff coord, Look Effects)
  Sk Nguyen (Visual eff coord, Look Effects)
  Michael Capton (3D supv, Look Effects)
  Carl Frytz (3D artist, Look Effects)
  Joanie Karnowski (3D artist, Look Effects)
  Darren Kiner (3D artist, Look Effects)
  Keith Lackey (3D artist, Look Effects)
  Jessica Y.C. Lai (3D artist, Look Effects)
  Shawn Lipowski (3D artist, Look Effects)
  York Schueller (3D artist, Look Effects)
  Antonello Stornello (3D artist, Look Effects)
  David Sudd (3D artist, Look Effects)
  Michael Collins (2D supv, Look Effects)
  Brad Kalinoski (2D supv Look Effects)
  Ulysses Argetta (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Derek Bird (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Cyntia Buell (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Seth Brower (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Christian Cardona (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Manda Cheung (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Leslie Chung (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Michael Degtjarewsky (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Katherine Filtrani (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Kelly Fisher (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Chris Flynn (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Buddy Gheen (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Jim Gorman (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Danny Kim (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Manuel Llamas (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  John Mangia (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Daniel Molina (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Maureen Nixon (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Joseph Oberle (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Greg Silverman (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Ben Sumner (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Chris Wessleman (Digital compositor, Look Effects)
  Ryan Chatel (Roto/Paint, Look Effects)
  Jose Lopez (Roto/Paint, Look Effects)
  Martin McGreevy (Roto/Paint, Look Effects)
  Melissa Widdup (Roto/Paint, Look Effects)
  Tina Wallace (Roto/Paint, Look Effects)
  Adam Avitabile (Flame artist, Look Effects)
  David Geoghegan (Flame artist, Look Effects)
  Gabriel Sanchez (Flame artist, Look Effects)
  Migs Rustia (Visual eff ed, Look Effects)
  Paul Stemmer (Visual eff ed, Look Effects)
  Michael Oliver (Data management, Look Effects)
  James Coleman (Data management, Look Effects)
  Mark Driscoll (President Look FX)
  Steve Dellerson (Visual eff exec prod, Look Effects)
  Jeremy Dawson (Main and end titles des by)
  Jeff Kryvicky (Main and end titles des by)
  Morgan Miller (Digital imaging)
  Eric Leverenz (Digital imaging)
  Eric Luszcz (Digital imaging)
  Technicolor (Addl visual eff)
  Alex Boothby (VFX compositor)
  Brett Landon (VFX compositor)
  Brent Whitmore (VFX compositor)
  Jason Shea (VFX compositor)
  Jodie Brown (VFX prod)
  Jay Tilin (VFX artist)
  Technicolor – Hollywood (Film scanning & rec)
Dance: Benjamin Millepied (Ballet choreog by)
  Kurt Froman (Assoc choreog)
  Georgina Parkinson (Head trainer)
  Marina Stavitskaya (Trainer)
  Jack Soto (Male trainer)
  Mary Helen Bowers (Trainer for Ms. Portman)
  Alexandra Blacker (Trainer for Ms. Kunis)
  Olga Kostritzky (On set ballet consultant)
  Ashley Melone (Ballet coord)
  Michael Sheridan (Pennsylvania Ballet liaison)
  Heather Watts (Ballet consultant)
  Gillian Murphy (Ballet consultant)
  Julie Kent (Ballet consultant)
  Tiler Peck (Ballet consultant)
  Megan Fairchild (Ballet consultant)
  Francesca Harper (Ballet consultant)
  Gavin Fitzpatrick (Ballet consultant)
Make Up: Judy Chin (Make-up des)
  Margie Durand (Make-up dept head)
  Todd Kleitsch (Key make-up)
  Angela L. Johnson (Addl make-up)
  Carla White (Addl make-up)
  Mike Marino (Prosthetic make-up des)
  Hayes Vilandry (Silicone specialist)
  Emma Jacobs (Spec FX make-up asst)
  Chris Kelly (Spec FX make-up tech)
  Paul Leblanc (Hair des)
  Geordie Sheffer (Hair dept head)
  Mary Lampert (Key hair stylist)
  Valerie Gladstone (Addl hair stylist)
  Dierdre Harris (Addl hair stylist)
Production Misc: Mary Vernieu (Casting)
  Lindsay Graham (Casting assoc)
  Brandon Hemmerling (Casting asst)
  Ann Goulder (NY casting)
  Gayle Keller (NY casting)
  Grant Wilfley (Background casting)
  Sabel (Background casting)
  Adam Goldman (Background casting asst)
  Dann Fink (Voice casting)
  Bruce Winant (Voice casting)
  Gabrielle Mahon (Prod supv)
  Anthony Pettine (Scr supv)
  Lindsay Feldman (Prod coord)
  Jodi Arneson (Asst prod coord)
  Ronnie Kupferwasser (Loc mgr)
  Dan Tresca (Asst loc mgr)
  Peter Pyun (Loc asst)
  Scott Ferlisi (Loc asst)
  James McGuinness (Unit prod asst)
  Orit Greenberg (Loc scout)
  Trish Gray (Loc scout)
  Megan Foerster (Loc scout)
  Rob Apuzzo (Loc intern)
  Eva Hannon (Loc intern)
  Maurice Cabrera (Parking coord)
  M. Baldwin Lewis (Prod secy)
  Ben Lusthaus (Office prod asst)
  Jon Kauffman (Asst to Mr. Aronofsky)
  Alex Wilson (Asst to Mr. Franklin)
  Alexandra Mendes (Asst to the prods)
  Pandora Vanderpump-Todd (Asst to Mr. Medavoy & Mr. Messer)
  Grit Menzzer (Asst to Ms. Portman)
  Soren Miltich (1st team prod asst)
  Jennifer Roberts (Background prod asst)
  Jackie Bernon (Walkie prod asst)
  Zara Burdett (Paperwork prod asst)
  Angela Cutrone (Addl prod asst)
  Eugen Ahl-Klopsch (Addl prod asst)
  Teddy Au (Prod accountant)
  David Farr (1st asst accountant)
  Deidre Donohue (2d asst accounting)
  Kerry Roberts (Payroll accountant)
  Jennifer Freed (Post prod accounting)
  Jessie Gant (Post prod accounting)
  Trevanna Post, Inc. (Post prod accounting)
  Rob Harris (Unit pub)
  Steven Hammond (Transportation capt)
  Peter J. Clores (Transportation co-capt)
  Christina Schaich (Transportation office mgr)
  Mike Costello (Security supv)
  Gourmet To U (Catering)
  Wilson Rivas Catering (Craft service)
  Wendy Cohen (Product placement coord)
  Dominic Sidhu (Fine art adv)
  Loreen Domijan (Stage mgr, Theatrical unit)
  Lorne Mac Dougall (Chief lighting, Theatrical unit)
  James F. McCullagh (Follow spot op, Theatrical unit)
  James J. Manzione (Follow spot op, Theatrical unit)
  Craig P. Harris (Follow spot op, Theatrical unit)
  Lloyd Rothschild (Dimmer board op, Theatrical unit)
  Jonathan E. Hatton (House sd, Theatrical unit)
  Kevin McCarthy (House flyman, Theatrical unit)
  Jeffrey Wondsel (House flyman, Theatrical unit)
  Jeff Gottesfeld (House flyman, Theatrical unit)
  Gerard Bourcier (House flyman, Theatrical unit)
  Sam Day (Prod intern)
  Alex Phillips (Prod intern)
  Alex Footman (Prod intern)
  Mallory Groff (Prod intern)
  Dr. Mitchell Cassel (Contact lens consultant)
  Vernice Klier-Moskowitz (Personal coach for Mr. Cassel)
Stand In: Douglas Crosby (Stunt coord)
  Jared Burke (Asst stunt coord)
  Jen Weissenberg (Asst stunt coord)
  Abby Nelson (Stunts)
  Lisa Ann Murphy (Stunts)
  Kimberly Prosa (Stunts)
  Barbara Christie (Stunts)
  Sarah Lane (Stunts)
  Maria Riccetto (Stunts)
Color Personnel: Technicolor – New York (Lab processing & dailies)
  Sam Daley (Dailies colorist)
  Kristyn DiPane (Dailies project mgr)
  Richie Roefaro (Canon 7D dailies adv)
  Charles Herzfeld (Post facility supv)
  Technicolor – New York (Digital intermediate)
  Kevin Yale (Digital intermediate project mgr)
  Dana Bloder (Digital intermediate prod)
  Tim Stipan (Digital intermediate colorist)
  Jessica Elvin (Digital intermediate ed)
  Andrew Still (Data mgr)
  Michael P. Whipple (Digital intermediate eng)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: Music from Swan Lake composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, adapted and arranged by Clint Mansell & Matt Dunkley.
Songs: "Apotheosis," written and performed by Pete Min, contains "Swan Lake" written by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "Danka Jane," written by Tom Rowlands, performed by The Chemical Brothers, The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "Outside The Lines," written by Praveen Sharma and Travis Stewart, performed by Sepalcure (featuring Angelica Bess), courtesy of Hotflush Recordings, contains "Swan Lake" written by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "The White Easton," written by Alec Storey, performed by Al Tourettes, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "Illicit Dreaming," written by Jamie Kavanagh, performed by Kavsrave, courtesy of Tighten Up Records, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "Electric Hands," written by Tom Rowlands, performed by The Chemical Brothers, The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "The Nina Frequency," written by Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, performed by The Chemical Brothers, The Chemical Brothers perform courtesy of EMI Records Limited, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "Dark Sygnet," written by Jermaine Troy Jacob, performed by Jakes, contains "Swan Lake" by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Composer: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  Matt Dunkley
  Jermaine Troy Jacob
  Jamie Kavanagh
  Clint Mansell
  Pete MIn
  Tom Rowlands
  Praveen Sharma
  Ed Simons
  Travis Stewart
  Alec Storey
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 1/12/2010 dd/mm/yyyy PA1709015
Dune Entertainment III LLC 1/12/2010 dd/mm/yyyy PA1709015
CCP Black Swan Investments, LLC 1/12/2010 dd/mm/yyyy PA1709015

PCA NO: 46261
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
  col: Technicolor
  Lenses/Prints: Prints by Deluxe; Filmed with ARRI CSC cameras & lenses

 
Genre: Drama
  Drama
  Drama
Sub-Genre: Psychological
  Show business
  Suspense
 
Subjects (Major): Ballerinas
  Mental illness
  Mothers and daughters
  Personality change
  Rivalry
  Swan Lake (Ballet)
 
Subjects (Minor): Auditions
  Death and dying
  Drugs
  Hallucinations
  Hospitals
  Jealousy
  Lesbianism
  Masturbation
  Mirrors
  New York City
  Paintings
  Rehearsals
  Ruses
  Sabotage
  Seduction
  Self-mutilation
  Sex
  Single parents
  Virginity
  Wounds and injuries

Note: A working title of the film was The Understudy . One of the costume credits reads: “Ballet Costumes by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.” The name of visual effects flame artist, David Geoghegan, was spelled Geoghagen onscreen. As noted in several news items, among them, a LAT dated 7 Dec 2010, the story is intentionally ambiguous, and it is not clear what events are supposed to have happened in the film and what are the delusions of the character, “Nina Sayers.” After Nina’s final line, the screen turns white. Although the film suggests that Nina dies at the end, her death is neither explicitly depicted, nor certain.
       According to the production notes, producer-director-writer Darren Aronofsky became intrigued with the ballet world after witnessing his sister’s experience as a ballet student. According to 31 Oct 2010 NYT and 17 Nov 2010 HR articles, he discussed the idea with Natalie Portman in 2001, when she was still in college, and she confided that she had wanted to make a film about ballet for many years. The 17 Nov 2010 HR article reported that Mike Medavoy’s Phoenix Pictures had offered Aronofsky a spec script by Andres Heinz titled, The Understudy , which depicted an off-Broadway rivalry between an actress and her understudy. Aronofsky initially turned it down, but later, according to studio production notes, had the idea to merge the story with a New York ballet setting.
       A 19 Jan 2007 DV news item reported that Universal acquired Black Swan , and that it would be produced by Protozoa and Phoenix. The same news item stated that Aronofsky’s partner, Eric Watson, would produce with Medavoy and Arnie Messer of Phoenix, and that John McLaughlin would write the script. The 17 Nov 2010 HR article reported that McLaughlin’s draft was submitted in 2006, but did not work out. After the success of the 2008 film, The Wrestler , and the stalling of a remake of Robocop , for which Aronofsky had been signed, the director returned to the ballet project. According to the 17 Nov 2010 HR article and the production notes, Mark Heyman, a co-producer of The Wrestler , further developed the idea by adding the Swan Lake themes. The same article reported that Protozoa and Phoenix re-acquired the rights from Universal and Portman became attached to the project, and that Aronofsky and Heyman wrote over twenty more drafts. The article reported that Overnight Films agreed to finance, but backed out four weeks before principal photography was scheduled. A 10 Nov 2009 HR news item reported that Fox Searchlight had entered final negotiations to co-finance and distribute the film with Cross Creek Pictures. The 17 Nov 2010 HR article stated that Fox agreed to the project the day before shooting began.
       According to the production notes, Portman had taken ballet as a child, but doubles were used for the dancing sequences. However, for close-ups, she had to acquire the look and movement of a ballerina in the head, arms and upper body. To prepare for the role, she trained daily for months before production with Mary Helen Bowers of the New York City Ballet and other dancers. In addition to ballet, her training included swimming, weights and cross training. According to the 31 Oct 2010 LAT article, Portman trained while working on another film, Your Highness , in Belfast, Ireland. Mila Kunis, who portrayed “Lily,” had never taken ballet lessons and also trained. Both women sustained injuries, such as torn ligaments, dislocated ribs and shoulders, during the making of the film.
       According to production notes, Aronofsky recruited Benjamin Millepied, a dancer with the New York City ballet, to choreograph and portray the part of “David/The Prince.” Among the other dance coaches working on the film were Marina Stavitskaya, Olga Kostritsky, and Georgina Parkinson, who died two weeks before filming was complete. Members of the Pennsylvania Ballet portrayed the dance corp.
       Barbara Hershey, who portrayed Nina’s mother, “Erica Sayers,” was cast about a week before production, according to her 1 Dec 2010 LAT interview. She was working in London on a television version of the Agatha Christie story, Murder on the Orient Express , and as her scenes in Black Swan were not filmed until near the end of principal photography, Aronofsky asked her to write two letters to Nina as Erica. According to the production notes, Aronofsky gave the letters to Portman at key times during filming.
       The production notes state that shooting began outside Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and several other New York City locations were used in the film. Nina and Erica’s apartment was located near Prospect Park and the nightclub sequence was shot at Santos Party House in Chinatown, New York, according to a Dec 2010 AmCin article. According to a Dec 2010 AmCin article, ballet sequences were shot at State University of New York at Purchase College where actor-dancer-choreographer Bob Fosse shot portions of the 1979 film, All That Jazz (see entry).
       The production notes and the 17 Nov 2010 HR article reported that three hundred visual effects were used in the film. According to the production notes, to capture a “visceral view of ballet,” the crew used handheld cameras. They worked with mirrors, which, as Aronofsky noted in the production notes, are “everywhere” in the “world of ballet.” In the 17 Nov 2010 HR article, Aronofsky stated that the filmmakers manipulated mirrors to “add to the creepiness” of the film. According to a 6 Sep 2010 Var article, cinematographer Matthew Libatique shot Nina’s reflections on darker surfaces to suggest her darker alter ego. The same article and the production notes state that art director Thérèse DePrez, and costume designer Amy Westcott, worked with mostly black, gray and pink colors. At the beginning of the film, Nina is dressed in gray and pink, and as her personality transforms, her clothing gets darker.
       To add to the feeling of suspense, composer Clint Mansell added horror film-type sounds to his score. As noted in the production notes, the foundation of his soundtrack are themes from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Swan Lake , from which he uses rhythms, melodies and progressions, but rebuilds them in a more modern, minimalist fashion. The 17 Nov 2010 DV article described his score as “a remarkable morphing of the original into something verging on music horror.” In the production notes he reported that some of the music was written before production began so that sequences could be shot to the music, while other passages were written as dailies arrived. The final recording sessions were undertaken in London with a seventy-seven-piece orchestra.
       In the production notes and interviews, Aronofsky stated that he intended Black Swan to be a companion piece to his 2008 film, The Wrestler (see entry). He explained that the two films share the themes of “bodily extremes” and both present protagonists as lonely, battered “souls in turmoil.” In the production notes, he noted that people consider wrestling “the lowest of art forms” and ballet the highest, but both arts use bodies for expression and the bodies are under constant threat of injury.
       Black Swan opened the Venice Film Festival. According to a 13 Sep 2010 LAT article, a trailer for the film depicting the sex scene between Nina and Lily was shown on the website, YouTube, and got 1.3 million hits. According to a 7 Dec 2010 LAT news item, Black Swan ’s reception among critics seemed to produce “a generational fault line” in that critics fifty and younger embraced the film, while older critics did not. The reporter suggested that the ambiguity of the film, combined with its lack of “subtlety and quiet” may have been the reason for its dismissal by the older generation.
       In addition to being named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year, Black Swan was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. Portman won the Academy Award for Best Actress. As noted in 17 Nov 2010 and 21 Dec 2010 Var articles, Clint Mansell’s score, which incorporated themes from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet, was ruled ineligible for Academy Award consideration by the Academy’s music-branch executive committee because it contained large portions of pre-composed music. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Portman) and was nominated for Best Director, Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama (Kunis). SAG nominated the film for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Kunis), and awarded Portman an award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. The film won Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematographer and Best Female Lead (Portman). Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy and Brian Oliver were nominated by PGA for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. Aronofsky was nominated by the DGA for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and Heyman, McLaughlin and Heinz were nominated by WGA for Best Original Screenplay. The Art Directors Guild (ADG) awarded production designer Thérèse DePrez an Excellence in Production Design Awards for Best Art Direction in a Contemporary Film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   Dec 2010.   
Daily Variety   19 Jan 2007.   
Daily Variety   17 Nov 2010   Section A, pp. 17, 20.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Nov 2009.   
Hollywood Reporter   17 Nov 2010   pp. 51-53.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Sep 2010.   
Los Angeles Times   13 Sep 2010   Section D, pp. 1, 9.
Los Angeles Times   31 Oct 2010.   
Los Angeles Times   1 Dec 2010.   
Los Angeles Times   3 Dec 2010   p. 1.
New York Times   31 Oct 2010.   
New York Times   3 Dec 2010   p. 1.
Variety   6 Sep 2010.   
Variety   21 Dec 2010   p. 3.

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