Last week my housemate Tim and I both reeeeally wanted to go see the movie “Black Swan.” Ya know, the one where Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis play two ballerinas that go head to head fighting over a man and Natalie Portman’s character plunges into manic paranoia and schizophrenia etc. Sounds fun right?
Long story short is that we didn’t get to go see the movie after all because we found out that “Black Swan” has not even premiered in the UK yet. …So much for our wonderful Plan A. We opted for even-more-wonderful Plan B when we saw a poster advertising the production of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” Ballet showing at the Oxford New Theatre. Sweet! We figured if we couldn’t see the cinematic version, we could see the source on which it was based.
Here we are in our (matching!!!) purple outfits ready to go to the ballet, looking quite posh if I do say so myself.
As mentioned before, the movie “Black Swan” is based on the original ballet “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky. (He also wrote “The Nutcracker” and “Sleeping Beauty” so he’s a pretty important guy.) Not to spoil the entire plot or anything, but the abridged summary is as follows…
The prince who has just come of age is being urged by his royal parents to choose a bride for himself. The king and queen lovingly parade all sorts of eligible young noblewomen in front of the Prince to aid his decision. But, like most young men faced with the prospect of marriage (and responsibility in general,) he runs away. Upon entering a wood the Prince spots a beautiful swan who surprisingly turns into a beautiful young lady. Her name is Odette; she is the White Swan, the “Swan Queen” and, consequently, the heroine of this story. She and the prince fall in love, or we assume as much after seeing them dance gracefully together for about half the show.
We find out that Odette has been turned into a swan (with a few minor exceptions, like when there’s a full moon or a blue-light special at K-mart or when she’s dancing with the prince for several hours) by an evil sorcerer. Strangely enough, this same evil sorcerer is an advisor in the royal court and mentor to the prince. The plot thickens…
Note: the only way to break the swan spell is for the Prince to publically declare his love for the Swan Queen and she will stay human indefinitely.
Prince goes back to his parents and declares he won’t marry any woman except Odette. Right on cue, and before his parents get a chance to lecture him, the evil sorcerer enters with an Odette look-alike: The Black Swan. This decoy is actually the sorcerer’s daughter, upon whom he has placed a spell to look exactly like the Prince’s lover, (except for the minor fact that she is a black instead of a white swan…obviously NOT a testimony to the Prince’s astute powers of observation).
So, our exceptional Prince goes ahead and declares his love for the wrong girl in front of the entire court and the real Odette, who happens to watching from a window at this moment.
At this point, things get a little bit fuzzy. The Prince sees the real Odette, realizes his mistake, then chases after his true love. But he’s just a little too late, and the White Swan has drowned herself out of utter despair. The Prince follows suit and plunges himself into the lake as well. We then see both of their soul’s rising up from the lake, united in their true love and in death. It’s kind of sad and bittersweet. I guess you could say they “died happily ever after?” I don’t know.
(Below is a picture of the stage in the Oxford New Theatre.)
The live production was very beautiful and elegant. And, ultimately, I decided it was better this way; that is, to see the live ballet version before seeing the movie. After all, I can watch movies all the time, but how often does the Siberian National Ballet Company come to town? And how often do you get the rare chance to stare at attractive men in tights for a full two hours? Let’s be honest.