Though the films were released four years apart, video blogger Fernando Andrés realized there are myriad similarities in Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” and Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash.” In this insightful video essay, he explores the preoccupations of both films with extremities, particularly hands and feet, amongst others.
First he considers the immediate parallels of the films’ protagonists, Nina and Andrew. Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning turn as Nina, the obsessive, naive dancer certainly can compare to Miles Teller’s portrayal of Andrew, the compulsive drummer. Both are students in the merciless New York art scene in their respective crafts; both begin each film white-clad, doe-eyed, and ready for whatever life’s going to throw at them; both characters let their craft consume their lives to the point of teetering on the margins of self-destruction, only to give the best performances of their lives.
The close-up shots in each film, of hands and feet respectively, feature the brutal regimen each character puts themselves through, evidenced by Nina’s ever-pointed toes and Andrew’s blood-stained, bandaged hands. The antagonists pushing Andrew and Nina to their artistic breaking points are their teachers —a glorious Vincent Cassel and a well-deserved Oscar-winning performance from J.K. Simmons—both are pushy, manipulative individuals whose former prodigies have both committed suicide from immense pressure.
Andrés seamlessly ties these unforgettable films together, and proposes a novel idea for the perfect double feature. Can you think of any other similarities between the two films? Let us know in the comments below.