Thursday, May 26, 2011

Here's An Interpretation of Black Swan's Nina.

Hey all,

Here's a slopshodder interpretation of the movie Black Swan.  There's so much going through my brain right now that I'm having trouble comprehending this movie.  Thus, below is an array of thoughts I need to lay out on the computer screen.  I'm assuming you've seen the movie and won't be hurt as I discuss pieces from the whole movie.  I'm not going to give a plot summary because it's not that important.  I'm literally going to just discuss the psychotic nature of Nina.

So, first a diagnosis to further this interpretation/psychoanalysis of Nina.

I've read on some interpretations that Nina is purely psychotic, and not schizophrenic.  I disagree.  Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder, so it makes sense that Nina could be schizophrenic.  She exhibits all of the common symptoms of the disorder, including social withdrawal, delusions, bizarre behavior, and loss of contact with reality.

Her mother is definitely a contributing factor towards Nina's condition - Nina's mother is almost undoubtedly sexually abusive towards her, and it's fairly apparent that this started a long time ago when Nina was still young.  Nina's room is decorated with stuffed animals, and has pink decor.  Furthermore, the mother constantly suggests Nina to take her clothes check the scratching, of course (ahem).

There is also something eerie about the scene where Nina "feels" herself only to later find out her mother is sleeping on a chair beside her.  The scene is brief but creepy.  I can't help but think that the mother was not sleeping at all, merely pretending to sleep as to spy on her daughter.

Now that the precedence for the mother and Nina's condition is set, I will proceed to the more compelling portion of this interpretation - who's real?  Who's just imagination?

I'm going to assert that the mother is fake.  Why?  Because there are unsettling things about the character that can't be explained.  The most obvious is when Lily comes over; the mother quickly closes the door without asking who it is.  However, there are other subtle hints.  When Nina closes the door on her mother's hand, the fingers are almost invariably injured.  This is shown on Nina when she wakes up the next morning with mittens over her hands.  Also, Nina wakes up later than usual to find that her mother did not wake her up.  Why?  Well, Nina did take hallucinogens the night before, and perhaps that altered her delusions.  There is another subtle hint.  Nina's mother's room is extremely sketchy.  It's never clear if those drawings on the wall are of Nina or someone else.  Thus, I make the claim that those paintings are actually of Nina's mother drawn by Nina herself.  It creates a sense that maybe her mother is still with her.  They're also not positive images, possibly suggesting the fact that they had a rough relationship in the past.  Finally, we never find out why Nina's mother is crying - is it because of her failure as a ballerina or something more?

Lily is for sure real.  The fact that the other characters interact with her is a testament of that.  The scene where Lily and Nina have sexual relations is actually key in my opinion.  There was definitely a change in that part of the movie.  Lily is very clearly a character foil for Nina.  They are polar opposites.  Lily is what Nina wants to become.  In the scene where they have sex, it's unclear whether or not it actually happened, but it shows something nevertheless.  At one point in the scene, Lily's face transforms into that of Nina's.  This is a clear representation of what is going through Nina's mind.  Nina has tried to masturbate twice before, and perhaps the third time really is the charm.  The fact that Nina imagined her own face on Lily is a testament of how Nina strongly feels like she needs to accomplish Thomas' "homework."  From that point onward, it becomes unclear whether or not the Lily's in the scenes are real or fake.  The fact that this transformation takes place explains why Nina didn't really stab Lily in the changing room, but really just injured herself.

This interpretation isn't really that compelling, but it helps me get some stuff down in writing.  I hope you enjoyed it, anyway.

Thanks for reading,


  1. I loved to read your analysis, thank you.

    " (...) Nina did take hallucinogens the night before, and perhaps that altered her delusions." Godness... I believe you may be correct!

    Very interesting indeed, you're smart.

  2. However, on the other side...

    After the disco, doesn't Lily ask Nina "are you going home to mommy?". Or was this another of Nina's hallucinations?

  3. @Patrícia

    That's a really good question. I think that particular phrase was said as an idiomatic expression to taunt Nina. So, whether or not that was a delusion probably doesn't really matter since it achieves the same psychological goal of peer pressuring Nina.