Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Black and White

I don't normally write movie reviews, but I suppose this is in a way, a bit more than that.  Also since a good movie is in a way a blessing, I want to share my thoughts on the movie "Black Swan".

It was a story about a ballerina being asked to perform the role of the swan queen.  It is a dual role of being both the pure, sweet but meek white swan at one point, then at another stage, the dark, powerful, seductress black swan.  The story has the black swan stole the heart of the prince before he fell in love with the white swan to unlock her spell, who kills herself in heartbreak.  In her nature, the ballerina character is the perfect white swan, so she fails at seduction and remains "white" in her portrayal of the "black". That is, until the end.

Natalie Portman plays this snow queen, and she has you believe a frightened and frigid version of her right from the beginning.  I even connected her role with all her off screen images and thought of her a meek actress perfect for this role.  But upon completion of the movie, you saw the darkness that was always there, rising throughout the ripple and twists of the plot, climaxing at the end with her emerging as a larger than life symbol of power, huge black wings flapping over the entire stage, even more so than the sultry beauty that eventually came through.

And I then realize that Natalie Portman had played many a powerful roles as well.  I had just as conveniently remembered that now as I had forgotten them earlier, as she would have me do.  I recalled childhood acting instructions about digging into the depth of oneself and find the part of your makings that relates to the character, and bring it out in full, if not magnified.  I thought to myself then, how could anyone have so much to relate? What if the character is nothing like the actor, a complete opposite?

I suppose that is what makes one a skilled actor, or an artist of other sorts, even writers perhaps.  It is in that ability to dig deep down into an emotional bank and empathize so much with another character that you almost become one, at least for a time.  This parallels the challenge her character - the ballerina faced, in finding that bit of darkness that is inside everyone including her and the actor.  They both magnified it to such an extent that audiences on the other side of the movie lenses can feel for a moment the pain and power from the dark pull of those secrete desires.

There is perhaps a bit more to it than that also.  I for one, though educated thoroughly otherwise, tend to believe that people are either good or bad.  No matter how many times the real world had shown me differently.  It never fails to shock me when someone I had classified as "good" in my mind fails to deliver according to the expectations I held mentally to that standard.  Whenever I allow my disappointments to come through, which is nearly always,  it sadly never fails to put a short brake or a long damper or both, on whatever relationship I might have held with them.  

Recently my friend Nina had been comforting me through some tough times, listening to me through spells of despair and help me vent what had been troubling me.  This is not at all unusual for her, to the extent I took it much for granted and hardly ever thanked her.  However in the last week or so I had been having trouble finding her, even for lunch which is how we've been catching up for nearly ten years.  Then on Saturday, fighting off a cold in hopes of some light heart fun, I ran into her at a mutual friend's party.  Her eyes went down cast in avoiding me and we danced around the edges of frigidity and awkwardness in conversation. But it was unavoidable or perhaps she got tired of the charades, she turned to me and announced:

"Hey T, I am getting a new job."

It turned out to be the job I had coveted a month ago. The perfect setup with great bosses all the way up the chains and nice team mates all around, like I had broken down in details with her.  Then I had asked for her help by "putting a good word" in the manager's ears, since she had been sitting next to them for years while I lived in another building across roads and blocks. 

A most bizarre and let's face it, ugly twist must have crawled all over my face as I stood listening yet hardly believing, because soon she turned and walked away, joining the others in cheering and toasting the perfection in this job's setup, leaving me in the fume and mists of confusion.

Before she left the party halfway through the night, she walked back to me, with me being still half stunned, and half something else, she said the final words to me that weekend:

"I never realized I was going to be asked.  But I was asked to take that job."

Then she walked out, head held high, heels clicking, back straight as a ballerina in her professional and powerful looking ensemble of head to toe blacks.  Is that swan lake I hear playing on the sound system?

I still don't understand what happened.  I just kept telling myself that I had always thought of her as the most angelic friend I ever had.  She never spoke ill of anyone, in fact she rarely spoke, and certainly no one ever speaks ill of her.  Nor do I plan to start that trend.  Least of all because I don't think that I've truly known her, not in the way that no one ever really truly knows anyone, but in the way friends know little useless and annoying details about each other and still hang on to each other, not despite of them, but because of them.

Or..., Perhaps this is the beginning of my knowledge?

I can't blame what happened to her, though I really wanted to. In the end I find myself happy that she landed on something good for the next few years, something that will advance her career to the next level.  I mean if I were to lose the job to anyone, there is no one more capable, experienced, a better person, a better friend that I'd pick myself.  Though I can't help feeling proud and weak at the same time.  In the end, while in search of support and the right shade of reactions, I just hope my boisterous transparency hadn't cost me yet another friendship.  More than anything, whether what happened was black or white, I want to believe that friendship itself is more white or at least gray than black, something that goes well with my own blend of colors.

11 comments:

  1. I to have had to the face the fact that people are not good or bad no matter how I define them as such. It is hard to rein in my emotions sometimes, but as one friend pointed out to me "you hold everybody to such high standards, yourself included. Is it any wonder we don't always meet them?"
    It was a wake up call for me.

    I was intrigued about watching Black Swan before I read this. Now I want to in earnest.

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  2. Oops!
    As you said, the job may not have been meant for you. Maybe you deserve something much much more better.
    I hope you get your dream job soon!

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  3. I think it's wonderful that you're trying to be happy for her. That is the best way to get over your jealousy.

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  4. First, there is no such thing as the "perfect" job. They all come with their own set of perils. Perhaps you've actually been saved some pain.

    And I'm with you on the black and white thing. I've been tested on this many times, and really, have only just begun to grow up enough to recognize how very complex we all are.

    So... you liked the movie?

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  5. I agree with Jayne. There are plenty of things I've wanted and was glad I did not receive in the end.

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  6. Yeah, I'd have to say it probably wasn't meant to be. I've experienced that a time or two. Something bigger and better is bound to come along for you.

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  7. A closed door is a never unintentional- God can see what I cannot and I trust that His plans for me are good. Even when He allows a door to close.

    I'm so glad to have found your place and follow along!

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  8. It's human nature. As much as we'd like to think we are "angelic" beings that would do anything for our friends, at the end of the day climbing the success ladder will always take precidence. It's so sad. I'm sorry.

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  9. here is my motto:

    always assume that people are untrustworthy, selfish, two-faced, and manipulative until they prove you otherwise.

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  10. i admire how you try to justify your friend for "betraying you" and i was really touched at how you are happy that she got that job you coveted. it's so selfless of you to think that there was no better person to lose the job but to her, your friend. yea you still think of her as a friend after all. we'd share the same dlemma if i were you.. i also trust people easily and completely, and if your categorized as my "friend" of course i can't imagine that you'd have the slightest inclination to bad against me.. but then reality slaps us in the face. just like you i wouldn't put the blame wholly on my friend. perhaps something in my actions must have led her to act in the manner she did. maybe i have pushed her to do that. there would be countless speculations, maybes, perhaps, what ifs. but before we break our head open trying to decipher this puzzle, let's just think that everything happens for a reason. she might be meant for it. and you might be meant for something too. because everything that happens, the good and bad, they're all part of God's scheme of things. and we just have to believe and continue to live. :)

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  11. I want to thank everyone for your lovely comments. It's been interesting to see a range of different reactions. I can see the helpful, encouraging and higher perspective in each of your comments. So really appreciated.

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