Black Swan Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score Black Swan by Clint Mansell.
At a glance:
Geek Score: 86.2
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 16.23
Album Excellence: 31%
In 2010, Darren Aronofsky created the drama/thriller/fantasy film Black Swan which by the loos of it fits Aronofsky’s profile to perfection. It has an element of strange to it. It seems to be about personality change, the white swan slowly transforms into black swan. The white swan is played by Natalie Portman who won an Oscar for her role. The black swan is played by Mila Kunis. It is a film I would like to see, but I haven’t had the opportunity yet. As per usual Darren Aronofsky has gone to his composer of choice Clint Mansell for the score.
‘Nina’s Dream’ is the beginning of this drama and it’s a classical ballet style music at first, but there are parts that sounds like something bad is happening whether it is by shock or subtle effects. In any case, the music gets quite dramatic near the end. It’s a great start, not just because of the links to classical music, but also because I have no idea where it goes next. The anticipation builds. There’s lots of music here by classical composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which probably explains the classical links the music has. ‘Mother Me’ is less dramatic, but has links to a more minimal style that Clint Mansell is known for. I think Mansell’s idea was to take Tchaikovsky’s famous work Swan Lake and re-imagine it into a modern form.
‘The New Season’ mix a more classical piano with subtle streaks of horror-like music by Mansell. Now we’re getting to the meat of the score. I’m not familiar enough with Tchaikovsky’s work to separate his work from Mansell’s work so I’m just going by what I have read about the score. ‘A Room Of Her Own’ is more classical, a simple piano and string motif. At this point I am asking myself: Where’s Clint Mansell? Is he going to show up at all or will this just be a classical fare? I’m not getting my answers with ‘A New Swan Queen’, but in addition to the classical music, there’s a rhythm there which caters more to Mansell’s style.
Then.. in ‘Lose Yourself’ I feel that Mansell’s imprint is coing alive, particularly with that hypnotic bass rhythm. I like it. This is Mansell for me and it’s brilliant. ‘Cruel Mistress’ is a fine mix again, but there’s a nice ostinato near the end with a piano and what appears to be a string-like insrument adding tension to the cue. ‘Power, Seduction, Cries’ contains a lovely build up string ostinato, but the finale lets it down.
At this point, I am enjoying the score quite a bit. I like the construction of it. You can’t go wrong with some of Tchaikovsky’s classical materal and then use some of Clint Mansell’s material inside that mix. It is not fantastic so far, but it doesn’t have to be. In ‘Opposites Attract’, Mansell use that amazing bass rhythm again which is to me the main theme of the score, at least the main theme with a clear element of Mansell’s genius. I want to hear more of it, but we go a bit back to classical music with a twist. The end is a mess with classical music on top of the bass rhythm. That didn’t work well.
The biggest cue of all is ‘Night Of Terror’. It’s 8 minutes long, but sadly there’s not much to say about it. It’s more of the same, a bit of classical, a bit of modern minimalism. I like the “breakouts” of big, bold classical music like at 3 minutes in the cue. The cue is good, but not great. ‘Stumbled Beginning…’ takes it one step further and includes a couple of very specific and well known parts of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. I love that music, so of course this cue wins, but not because of Mansell’s contributions. ‘It’s My Time’ also uses a more famous classical piece. ‘A Swan Is Born’ is a jolly classical piece, bombastic and proud. ‘Perfection’ use more of Swan Lake. The final cue ‘A Swan Song (For Nina)’ is an ending, a dark and disturbing ending, with a mix of Swan Lake, some glass shattering and dark and gloomy ending to the cue.
I liked Black Swan, I liked th whole idea of it as well. The mix between classical and minimalism. I feel that the execution wasn’t always great though. There are far more classical music than there is Mansellian music which is a shame. If I want to hear classical music, I can just listen to Swan Lake. Still, this is very enjoyable
1. Nina’s Dream
6. Lose Yourself
12. Stumbled Beginnings…
14. A Swan Is Born