When Darren Aronofsky gave the cinematic world his very cerebral feature film, Pi (1998), it was an introduction into his career-long examination of the balance between light and dark, beauty and ugliness, and living and suffering. One of his projects that truly encapsulates this balance is Black Swan, a film that overtly and purposefully teeters between simplicity and baroqueness. If you want to dive into the tormented world of Aronofsky, take a look at Niko Tavernise's Metamorphosis, a beautifully shot, very intimate documentary that takes you behind the scenes of the production, as well as interviews with the director, DP, screenwriter, and many more.
One of the themes Aronofsky does so well in his films, like Requiem for a Dream, is this idea of change -- of a striking, dark to light and back again metamorphosis, and Black Swan is the film in which the director was really able to spread his wings and explore this. Centered around a production of Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake, Black Swan, according to the director, drew inspiration from Dostoyevsky's novella The Double for the motif of the doppelgänger, which plays a pivotal role in the film.
In Tavernise's Metamorphosis below, you'll learn all about the project, from its hectic 42-day schedule to how talented DP Matthew Libatique shot certain scenes, including the one with the underwater POV shot with Natalie Portman's character, Nina, in the bathtub. This is a great resource if you're looking to see how professional filmmakers work on a film every day, or if you want to become more of an expert on Aronofsky's artistic and cinematic sensibilities -- and who doesn't want that?
In fact, one of my takeaways from the series, which you can find about 5 minutes into the 2nd video (Chapter 2), is that as a director you must learn how to be flexible and work with what and who you have. Aronofsky says that having ideas for a film is good, but until an actor "tries it on," it doesn't really mean anything. You have to allow there to be collaboration and a free flow of ideas, because you can't "force what they're doing into a mold." Sometimes, you can't be too rigid about your vision, because if you've got something that doesn't fit, deviating from your original plan might be better than having the product of something that was forced into a space that doesn't feel natural.
Note: a password has been added to these videos. Watch while you still can! The password is "blackswan."
If you're wanting a little bit more, Tavernise also released extended interviews from his documentary, as well as almost 25 more minutes of behind the scenes footage. Check them out below:
What are your thoughts on Darren Aronofsky and his team's work on Black Swan? What are your takeaways from Niko Tavernise's Metamorphosis? Share your thoughts in the comments below!