The laughter: every time we hear it, the evil toys with Nina in a visible way. The interesting thing is that the first time we hear the laughter is during the title card – that suggests two things – that this is In fact a movie about possession and that the possession starts now, with Nina's dream where she turns into a swan. The second time we hear it is when Nina steals lipstick from Beth – she commits a small crime, something out of character for such a sheltered, good girl. Next, the laughter is heard when Nina bites director's lip when he kisses her. Again, something unusual for her. We also hear it when Lily comes into the bathroom and introduces herself to Nina – could it be a sign that she is commanded by evil force to toy with Nina? After all Lily for some reason seeks contact with her – Nina is not very interesting person, she's shy and timid. Why would a girl like Lily take an interest in her? We hear the laughing when Nina notices the word “whore” written across the mirror. Notice how it is the same color as the lipstick she stole from Beth. Could it be that it wasn't a vision, that it really happened and that Veronica had nothing to do with it? Could it be some supernatural force? Nina also sees herself laughing in an eerie way as she sees the director having sex with someone. Maybe it really happened, maybe it was Lily being possessed then, which was shifted to Thomas as he changed into evil sorcerer from the ballet. The laughter can also be heard during big night – as Nina waits and ballerinas pass her and for a moment her face appear on face of the other one and is heard for the last time as Nina goes downstairs after performing her coda. It's as if in that moment the force was done toying with her and released her
Beth: The key is lipstick – from the moment Nina steals it, her visions and utter paranoia begin and they grow stronger as Nina continues to steal more and more things. Maybe the previous victim to the demon, or whatever possessed the ballerinas, was Beth and by taking her things and taking her place Nina brought this on herself. Beth is said to be highly destructive, erratic and she seems unstable. Did she really tried to commit suicide or was she thrown in front of the car by something that no longer needed her?
The statue: Before Nina is attacked by Beth she stared at scary statue. We also get to see a glimpse of it during club scene. Is that the symbol for the monster that is after Nina?
The transformations: Let's assume that Nina's transformations really took place. This can only be disproved by the fact that her wings only cast a shadow and the audience doesn't seem to see them. But that's the only case, I suspect put in the movie for effect and maybe to justify the director's claim that this is the movie about paranoid dancer. But still it can be argued that the demon simply didn't want to be seen by others hence the wings couldn't be seen by anyone but Nina. The shadow is there, though, it is what audience sees. The illness theory may explain that this is some stage effect, part of choreography, the possession theory – the demon is so confident it allows the shadow to be there, because the audience will look at the dancer, stunned, paying no attention to the surroundings, the same way ballerinas do when the show is over and they don't notice the wound in Nina's stomach immediately. Nina is transforming into a monster, who has full control over her when she has inhuman red eyes – why would we be shown them? If we see what Nina sees why show us red eyes when she is not in front of a mirror? Notice how Nina walks backstage after first part of Black Swan dance – she looks completely possessed, her eyes are entirely red and she seems happy about it and embraces her body changing. She is no longer Nina – she is something devilish, something that won the fight for this girl's body. The coda is so perfect, swift and fast it's almost inhuman. Nina stabs herself when she is being possessed and when the demon leaves her, she dies.
The form: Nina is vein – look how she keeps staring at herself at the mirror being very content about what she sees, look how happy she is when the costume designer tells her she lost weight. Nina likes her beauty and is aware of its existence, hence the demon took her form – as megalomaniac Nina keeps seeing herself. The other Nina is pure evil – always smug, always self mutilating to scare good Nina, always with devilish smile on her face, fearless, confident, powerful. The evil Nina that takes over once the transformation is complete. That force is sure it's going to win with the fragile girl, probably already suffering from some sort of mental disorder for most of her life, with wrecked nerves and malnourished body, insecure about her own sexuality, treated as child for her entire life, living her tiny life where every day looks the same.
The duality: Look at the credits of the movie – Nina is white swan, Lily is black, Thomas is the gentleman, Beth is the dying swan. But Thomas turns into Rothbart. It's because Rothbart, the evil sorcerer from the ballet is that evil force toying with Nina. It's the unknown, the supernatural. It's the only character in the cast who doesn't have some other name associated to it.
The mirrors: The evil hides in the mirrors and plays with fragile Nina some more. It also has some sort of control over Nina's surroundings – the paintings her mother paints seems to have life of their own. The mirror device is common in the movies about ghosts, possessions, monsters - they can be seen only in them. The evil can be seen in mirrors, even when it can't be seen with naked eye – notice how the Black Swan emerges fully when Nina breaks the mirror – as if she unknowingly freed it, not by “murdering” her rival by but smashing that mirror. The mirror that freed the Black Swan is the thing that is gonna kill the white one – Nina.
The mother: Nina's mother is apart from Beth the most cryptic character in the movie. I'm especially fascinated by the scene before Nina finds the pipe – she sees her mother painting and she is sobbing quietly. Why? Does she see the things Nina sees?
|Lily and Rothbart|
Underneath: The fact Nina keeps digging in her skin, scratching, pulling off skin and hurting her body suggests that as she digs more and more “evil” or the dark side gets out and that it is something hiding in human being, in all of us, something that can come out when we “lose ourselves” in sex, in hedonism, in freedom, in breaking the rules. Because of that our character rises to the impossible, gains the power, through the sacrifice and mutilation, through pushing herself to extremes obtains perfection and as she dances becomes almost godlike entity with enormous wings, spinning at impossible speed, triumphing. By breaking all the rules, by being restricted by no one and nothing, ill or possessed Nina achieved absolute freedom and absolute control over everyone else who watched her in awe. Was it what the demon was after? Fame, success, triumph? Winning mortals' hearts? One way or another – the evil won.