Remaining Objective as a Christian Filmmaker/Critic/Watcher (My Review of Black Swan)
Wow…I’ve been blown away by Darren Aronofsky’s, “Black Swan.” Truly a masterpiece of a film, it is one that hasn’t left me since I left my seat. It was everything I expected exceeded.
Every beautiful shot communicated visually what was being tragically played out in the film.
Every character was nuanced, even the stereotyped.
Every line was gritty
Every moment was real.
This is the work of a master craftsman behind a camera. I find it funny that my two favorite directors are an extreme contrast to one another. Christopher Nolan is everything elegant, intelligent, and sublime. Darren Aronofsky is everything visceral, raw, and enlightening. These two are powerhouses that I am pleased to dwell the earth with. I’ve already spoken in droves about Chris Nolan and his films. Today is about Aronofsky and his masterpiece in the making, “Black Swan.”
Now, as you might’ve seen, I’ve titled this entry in a rather complicated manor. You may have guessed what I’m gettin at here and if you haven’t….Black Swan is gritty, raw, risque, and horrific. It is one that, as much as I love it, I can’t go out to all of my friends and say, “Let’s all go see Black Swan.” Why? In short…
2 somewhat graphic sexual scenes, One of those involving straight up, no qualms Lesbianism, lots of blatant provocatively risque images and language, not to mention, as i said, it is the most visceral of aronofsky’s yet. (well, maybe not, Requiem is up there) At least on equal plain with his other work, if only because they are apples and oranges.
I write this because I imagined as we explained to my mother-in-law the film and all of its contents, what if she had actually seen it with us? What is my response to people who have a problem with seeing a lot of the above things? Am i allowed to say I loved it? How can i (speaking from their perspective)? Why do i think I’m so special? etc…
I kind of wrote on this at the very outset of the blog but I had a few moments of clarity amidst the mind games Black Swan played on me. You may adopt this view or you may not, but you certainly cannot condemn or pass judgement on my stance as it is merely different from your own, lesser or greater. In short..
I believe to expect the world to act like Christians is foolish and unbiblical (yes unbiblical because Romans clearly states those who are apart from God are not bound by the law of righteousness but of sin) Flesh that out to mean (in filmmaking terms): To go to a movie and say they shouldn’t have had that much language or there shouldn’t have been a sex scene or that movie was overly violent or etc… is to impose upon the world a Christian stencil that it will not fit. Do i agree with these scenes? Absolutely not. Do I criticize the world for placing them in their films? No I do not. Know why? because they have absolutely no reason to do otherwise.
Tell me something…imagine your life apart from Christianity: from the church, the bible, probably some of your family, your upbringing, your moral foundation, your hope, your sense of purpose, identity, sense of worth, sense of being guilt-free, etc…now, imagine that you are watching, writing, critiquing, or directing one of the films I’ve just mentioned. Let’s say Black Swan. What do YOU think it would look like? If you are a Christian right now, you should have no other answer than to say that it would be done VERY differently, as far as content is concerned. If it isn’t, then you don’t quite understand Christianity.
My point in the idea of above is to show you why it is pointless to critique the world’s moral standards in their films. Did I say anywhere that I would do those things? That I approve of those things? That i enjoy those things? That I would include these things in my film? No.
This is what keeps it seperate for me. A lot of people ask me how I can maintain my integrity and perspective when viewing these films and how I can justify saying that they’re good or bad. This is where it starts. In summary: Don’t expect the world to look/act/speak like a Christian. When you don’t expect them to, you are still able to maintain your separation and are able to spend less of your time worrying about every moral scruple you have with a film (you will never not have them, and no, you won’t start cutting your teeth on the world after seeing a movie, especially if you watch it properly, in some of the ways we’ve suggested and described) and spend more of your time critiquing it from an artistic perspective. From a filmmaker’s perspective. From a story teller’s persepective….Heck, just from a human perspective. Take the emotions of these characters, understand their troubles understand their fears and motives and conflicts and follow their journey, doesn’t mean you have to make it a part of you. You are an observer this is all. Do you think a jury adopts the behavior of a murderer just because they hear his methods desribed in full and in detail? No. Can they understand his perspective? Sure. Understanding and agreeing, or observing and accepting are all very different words.
Take a film for what it is….a film. Not a Christian movie (which at this point, let’s be honest, is a good thing). Not a narnia or lord of the rings wannabe, but an actual cinematic experience that seeks to tell you a story, wether you agree with everything in that story or not is something to discuss after. Prepare your mind so that you can take what’s good and leave what’s bad. Stop being afraid of them and start learning from them.
All that to say: Black Swan; 5 out of 5; master filmmaking; you’ve been warned; go see it if you can “handle” it. After all you can always walk out for a few minutes if you really need to, or you can just look the other way (the latter is what I did)
Hope this helps!