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  • The Ending ?? This troper doesn't really care whether Nina died or not but is particularly disturbed by which scene are real and which are not
    • None of it was real, it was all part of the movie.
      • The ending is actually pretty clear on what happened. Nina stabbed herself and imagined the whole thing with stabbing/fighting Lily and turning into a swan. She also imaged the sex scene and the fact that Lily was after her. Nina died at the end of the ballet, that much was very obvious. I don't understand why everyone is so confused about the ending, it really was not that hard to get.
      • Agreed, it is pretty clear it was all in Nina's head, the only scene that got me confused was the one with Beth stabbing herself, to later have revealed Nina had the knife thingy all along. I was left with the doubt if Nina had actually stabbed Beth, or if she was never actually at the hospital
        • The ending is perfectly ambiguous, as I'm sure it was intended to be. We're not supposed to know for sure what's real and what's not because our POV character is Nina, who is fucking crazy.
      • How could she dance ballet flawlessly with a deadly stab wound?
          • Adrenalin rush and shock. It's actually quite common that people don't realize they've been injured until later.
            • This is possibly a case of Did Not Do the Research on Aronofsky's part. While it's well known that adrenalin and shock can be enough to, say, get a fatally wounded runner to the finish line of a race, that runner would be moving pretty clumsily. Nina might have had the raw strength to make it to the stage and keep trying, but coordination is a completely different thing from strength, and a dancer in shock would likely not be able to retain her balance for even a single spin.
        • The movie shows that Nina frequently cut herself to deal with stress, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that she could also deal with stabbing herself.
        • Her black self kills her white self to end her self-repression. The ending could either symbolise her rebirth as she reconciles the two or her death as she could not. Is she imagining Thomas calling for help or is it really happening? The whole thing is completely open to interpretation by the viewer, which is exactly what Darren Aronofsky intended.
        • the real question is, assuming that she did stab herself, how in the world could none of the other dancers notice? Her costume is white, and she's dancing, so the blood wouldn't exactly just trickle out subtly.
        • Disagreed. The stabbing was symbolic of her malnutrition and anorexia that has had subtext through much of the movie especially the scene with the cake when she was worried about getting fat. She didn't actually die this is why they were getting the paramedics she obviously wasn't dead she merely passed out.
        • Eh. The way people react around her when she's on the ground indicates something more visual, or at least noticeable than a case of malnutrition. Again, it's left open to interpreation, but this troper thought it was something more noticeable than that.
  • why is Nina the only one cast in this role? This troper knows from experience how demanding that role is, and in real life Nina could have been seriously injured. (By the role's physical demands, not her own doing.) The ballet director should have cast two or three ballerinas plus an understudy to alternate night-to-night
    • They did have under studies for her.
      • The movie shows that the understudy was appointed way to late, it should have been announced at the same time as Nina getting the role.
    • And the director is an asshole.
    • There may have been more understudies that we just didn't see; Lily's the only other dancer who really mattered anyway. Did we see the whole cast list when she found out she had the role?
    • Nina learns about the fact that she has an understudy at all way too late, meaning that it had been appointed really late and without her knownig.
  • The ballet director wants to put on an innovative rendition of Swan Lake. He has one performer who's "perfect, if he was only casting the white swan" and another performer who truly embodies the black swan. He spends the rest of the movie trying to beat Nina into shape to play the black swan. Until the "murder," no one suggests splitting the highly difficult main role between the two performers.
    • That was because of the way the part is written. Splitting it would be a little like trying to split Hamlet between two actors, one playing the jovial student and the other playing the madness (though admittedly it would be an interesting concept). It would have to be a last resort.
    • From what I've read, it seems like Swan Lake is actually almost always now played with one ballerina doing both the same role as the white and black swans, although it wasn't always the case. So having two dancers play the different swans would not only be different, it would still be legitimate.
  • How on earth was Nina cast for the leading role at all? A woman so childish and insecure wouldn't have lasted a day in an elite dancing company - ballet is extremely competitive. Let's face it - she's meek, has no self-confidence whatsoever, she doesn't have what it takes to dance this role. No sane man would risk firing a prima ballerina and casting someone from corps de ballet (someone who obviously had mental problems from the beginning, might I add) in the title role when millions of dollars are at stake and investors need to be sure the production won't flop. And if Nina is really as good as they say (which is hard to tell, since we don't get to see her dancing a lot), why didn't she get any leading roles before?
    • 1.) As this troper saw it, Nina probably had more raw talent and dedication than any other ballerina in the company, but she lacked the self-confidence to achieve the level of prima ballerina.
    • 2.) Beth, the former prima, was the reason why Nina had never been given a leading role. But then Beth retired. read: got old, became a massive diva and her affair with the director went sour.
    • 3.) The director hoped that by challenging Nina with the Swan Queen role, she would develop fully into the next prima ballerina.
      • 1) Raw talent which needs to be developed? She's a bit too old for that, actually, way past the ballet school.
      • 2) The thing here is, ballet companies never have just one prima, they hire a number of them - having one would simply be too risky, as sometimes there are two performances per day, and not every dancer can cope with that. And after Beth was fired, her role would simply be given to another prima, that's how it actually works in ballet, and NOT to a girl from corps de ballet. If in a famous rock band a guitarist leaves, the rest of the band will try to find another skilled guitarist, because he can actually, you know, play the guitar. Not a roadie or a fan, however dedicated they might be, or even if they have potential. Yes, raw talent/dedication mean a lot, but only in the beginning - if you're in a high school band or ballet school. When you're in a band that sells millions of copies of albums, or in the Bolshoy ballet company, it's not only talent and dedication, but also skills that count. But anyway, back to the movie - the Swan lake is not the only ballet out there. And ballet companies never have _one_ production they rely on, but usually a few. and different dancers are engaged in different productions. If Nina is too pure to play both Odette and Odille, then simply give her another role - that of a pure naive girl, there's plenty of that in ballet. Not a seductress? Okay, here's your Marie from Nutcracker or Gisele or Princess Aurora. Seriously, give her another role and save us a movie!
      • 3) I understand what director had hoped for, but this is simply not how the things work in ballet. IRL, the investors would take Cassel's character to court, fire him and find another director (and another prima, while we're at it). In fact, my biggest problem with this movie is that it presents itself to be brutal, honest and realistic. Brutal? Sure it is (that feather growing? ouch) Honest and realistic - not so much. And I cannot suspend my disbelief exactly because of that. The director says that that's what real ballet is like, that's what life is like, but that's not true and I feel bullshitted.
  • Why is Nina this insecure in front of people? Being insecure as a speaker, in yourself is one thing, but she can't handle being looked at neither by one old man or while being some distance away from a crowd. The director apparently forgot that ballerinas dance in skin-tight costumes in front of masses every night and half the time run around almost naked backstage on the night of a big performance. For a dancer it is natural to either enjoy the attention or to completely block out everyone around her/him.
    • Not sure about the crowd, but the one old man was a perv who was masturbating in public while looking at her. Pretty sure even the most secure person would feel uncomfortable standing next to him.
    • But a secure person would follow the usual advice: ridicule him.
    • But she is not a secure person and you don't know how to act in that sort of situation till you've actually been there. This troper has actually been there and it is terrifying and am very secure relatively.
    • It's still a form of sexual misconduct; I'm not sure if it's legally considered sexual assault to openly masturbate in public, but it's damn sure a sexually aggressive gesture. Even the most secure person can be made to feel humiliated, dehumanized, objectified, and dirty, and Nina has been consistently abused and robbed of her agency of a person pretty much her whole life.
  • Is it just me, or does the director treat his casting of the ballet as something unique? Swan Lake is almost always played by one dancer doing both the black and white swan, although in the earlier versions, this wasn't always the case. So by casting one dancer as the Swan Queen, he is basically doing what 99% of the other Swan Lake performances are doing?
    • It wasn't the casting that was supposed to be unique, just the choreography and the arrangement. We didn't get to see enough of the ballet to see if it really was anything special.
      • He may have been referring to playing up the Madonna/Whore dichotomy with one dancer.
  • Would Lily have been allowed to perform with that massive tattoo uncovered? Honest question. I don't think I've ever seen a stage show where a tattoo is so visible.
  • Maybe Nina did kill Lily and only made up her being alive to stop her feeling so guilty...
    • Maybe Lily didn't even exist at all.
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