video response to black swan

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Movie: Black Swan

Black Swan and Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy


Please make sure you read the bottom of this assignment and the link to a video for how to submit your video through Studio in Canvas using the iPad Pro. Your video must be submitted this way. Do not email it to me. Do not use the Canvas app. Submit through a browser.

The Assignment: Create a five-minute, no more, no less, video response to the film.

Please outline your ideas prior to making the video; your outline should be similar to those you have done in other Dialogue course. The use of an outline should be evident in your presentation.YOU DO NOT NEED TO SUBMIT AN OUTLINE

Consider this as an oral presentation in a formal setting. Rehearse, and make eye contact with the camera during the recording. Your presentation should flow from one idea to the next. Avoid summarizing the film; assume your viewer has seen it. Please do not use external Internet sources for this assignment. You should use only my lectures.

Look up how to pronounce “Nietzsche.” Google it.

Your video should equally respond to the ideas related to Nietzsche that I present in my lectures and how they relate to the film. THERE IS NO NEED TO GIVE A SUMMARY OF THE FILM OR YOUR REVIEW OF IT. PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOUR PARTS BELOW IN YOUR RESPONSE TO THE FILM.

Topic Overview: It is easy to see Black Swan as simply as a horror story or how a bad mother drives her daughter crazy. However, it is more than that. Remember it ends with Nina saying, “I am perfect.”

Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy is very relevant to this modern tragedy. As you recall from my lecture, Nietzsche saw in ancient Greek tragedy a collision between aspects of Greek culture that were echoed in the characters in the ancient tragic plays. Nietzsche says that in the Greek tragic plays there are two characters in collision. Each character represents an aspect of the human personality – the Dionysian and the Apollonian. He labels them the Dionysian and Apollonian in reference to the two Greek gods Dionysius and Apollo. Dionysius was the god of fertility, passion, frenzy, irrationality and creativity. Apollo was connected to later forms of civilized culture and represented control, order, logic, but also perfection in form and in art. For Nietzsche characters in the ancient dramas expressed these opposing impulses, this led to a collision of the characters. Simply the Dionysian character conflicts with the Apollonian in the drama. However, this collision can also represents opposing side of one person’s personality internally in their own minds. The collision of the Dionysian and Apollonian, whether between two characters or within one character’s mind leads to disaster and death; hence, tragedy. It was the collision of both the Dionysian and Apollonian – in one drama – that produced great art, which was in Nietzsche’s view “perfect.”

Black Swan reveals this dynamic in the character of Nina as she transforms herself from the obedient daughter, conforming, and disciplined dancer. She embraces a collision of the Dionysian and the Apollonian. Other characters represent these forces and have influence in her life as well. As Nina attempts to transform from one personality and type of ballerina to the other, it leads to perfection in art but also tragedy.

Topic :

Part 1. As you watch the film where do you see the Apollonian in Nina, in her dancing, in her feelings of self and the way she dances? What pushes her towards the Dionysian? What does the white swan mean to her? What challenges must she face in becoming the black swan? The scratches on her back seem to be a protest again something or someone? Who? What seems to be trapped inside her that forces her to scratch herself in protest?

Part 2. How does her mother play a part in this? In what way does she represent the forces of the Apollonian? Why does Nina put the wood in her bedroom door?

Part 3. How about Thomas, the director? How does he represent the Dionysian? What part does Nina biting his lip play in his view of her? He says at one point about her dancing “you must let go.” Later he exhorts her to “lose yourself.” Explain what you think he means by these statements and how do they connect to the collision of the Dionysian and Apollonian in Nina’s life?

Part 4. Lastly, how is her madness at the end of the film related to the Apollonian and Dionysian dynamic? Has she lapsed from one to the other or in truth possess both? How do you know?


Your Presentation: Consider this as an oral presentation in a formal setting. Please outline your ideas prior to making the video, rehearse, and make eye contact with the camera during the recording. Your presentation should flow from one idea to the next. Lastly, remember what I am seeing. Consider the background in the video. Do not have your dog running around behind you and barking. Try to get the camera as level as possible to your eyes so I do not have to look up your nostrils the entire time. You don’t have to dress up, but dress how you would if you were presenting this in class. FOLLOW AN OUTLINE AND REHEARSE! PLEASE JUST DON’T RAMBLE ON. Please use the outline form you have used in other Dialogue courses.


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