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Black Swan deceived Oscars?


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#1 Joseph Arch

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 12:40 PM

I knew that film was too good to be true. I really did not enjoy it and had hoped they do not win anything because it was a stupid story and a stupid cinematography.





Natalie Portman's pro-ballerina double caused a stir this week when she said Portman did about five percent of the intense dancing in "Black Swan."
Sarah Lane, a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, got pissed when she noticed she was credited only as a "stunt double" and "hand model" (ouch) in the film's credits.
Now, she says she was told to keep her mouth shut about how much of the movie she supposedly carried -- so that "Black Swan" producers could construct an Oscar-worthy narrative about Natalie's determined ballerina transformation.

(Fox Searchlight, the film's production company, released a statement yesterday reiterating that Portman did almost all of the dancing.)
At first glance, this bombshell seems to take some of the shine out of "Black Swan" -- but really, who is it hurting?
Portman already has her Oscar -- and pretty much her pick of Hollywood roles. Her production company, Handsomecharlie Films, has two movies in development, and she stars in blockbusters "Your Highness" and "Thor" this spring.

Lane, who would have otherwise been unknown to the public at large, is getting her 15 minutes of fame (and maybe she deserves it -- who knows whose jet├ęs those actually were?).
This story could even be rolled into a boost for the arts: ABT should mount a performance of "Swan Lake" with Lane as Odette/Odile and promote the heck out of it.
And the most unsurprising benefit: all of this chatter throws some spotlight back to the movie, which still lingers in a few theaters and comes out on DVD Tuesday.
So anyone who wants to take a hard second look at Portman's performance -- and to slow-mo search for Lane's contributions -- is nothing but good for "Black Swan."




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#2 K Borowski

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 01:02 PM

Joseph, don't want to come across as cynical and jaded (that's what Phil is here for, after all ;) ) but this industry has been doing this sort of thing since the very beginning.


The people in front of the credit are going to continue to get all of the credit (Directors, DPs, Producers get a little more now, but your average popcorn-chomping idiot thinks the actors do their own stunts, camera moves, and write the script, edit the film).
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#3 Joseph Arch

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 01:13 PM

This is why I say that everyone needs to work in every industry for one week so as not to discriminate against other people's professions.
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#4 Brian Rose

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 01:35 PM

This is why I say that everyone needs to work in every industry for one week so as not to discriminate against other people's professions.


Yeah, this is no surprise to me. I could tell from the slapdash editing that they were having to cut around Portman all the time, because she was a fifth rate dancer before she switched to acting, and could never do some of the things demanded of her. Pros had to step in. It's why "The Red Shoes" will always be superior, because they used legitimate ballet dancers in the acting roles, and the choreography was far more nuanced and simple.

I can understand this woman's complaint, the idea that ballet can be mastered in a year. It's an insult. I for one trained as a competitive runner, and it drives me nuts when I see a running movie, or a movie featuring runners, only they don't use real runners, merely actors who've had a crash course with a personal trainer. There is something far deeper in terms of rhythm and flow that can't be learned in a day, week or year. It is a decade or more easily. It is small wonder ballet tends to scoff at film, because so often, it fundamentally misunderstands and disrespects the art form.
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 02:11 PM

No big surprise that they used a dance double given they'd need someone who would be at the character standard. It's extremely unfortunate that the credit wasn't explained, or negotiated with Sarah Lane or her agent

BBC are running a series on the English National Ballet

http://www.bbc.co.uk...rammes/b00zfty5

Much sweat and injury.
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#6 Joseph Arch

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 02:35 PM

@Brian Rose

I completely agree with you.



@Brian Drysdale

I was meaning to watch that BBC programme but it just looks like any other programme. Boring.
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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 02:43 PM

it was a stupid story and a stupid cinematography


Thankyou for that measured and insightful critique. Your opinion is highly valued. This forum would not be the valuable resource that it is without the intelligent and informed contributions of people like yourself.
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 03:22 PM

I have a friend who was a ballerina, and has two hip replacements to show for it. When it first came out, she said that the dancing in the film was all wrong. She's teaching yoga now....




-- J.S.
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#9 Joseph Arch

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 03:42 PM

Thankyou for that measured and insightful critique. Your opinion is highly valued. This forum would not be the valuable resource that it is without the intelligent and informed contributions of people like yourself.


You should see me dance.

@John Sprung

I am not surprised. When the producers tell someone to keep their mouth shut so they can fix an Oscar for Portman, you know they do not know or care for the work of others.
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 04:11 PM

@Brian Drysdale

I was meaning to watch that BBC programme but it just looks like any other programme. Boring.


If you want to learn about the creative process these programmes are anything but boring. Like making a film and pushing everything, disaster is surprisingly close. They are surprisingly earthy.
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#11 Tom Jensen

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 04:11 PM

You know, Tom Cruise does ALL his own stunts. Just ask him.
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#12 Peter Moretti

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 04:16 PM

I think what's at play here is the general public's perception that Natalie did the dancing. (I'm sure she didn't and, IIRC, the AC article said that a stunt double was used extensively for any dancing where you was more than the torso.) Also, Benjamin Millepied left his ballerina girlfriend for Natalie Portman, so I think there may be some bad blood between her and the "ballet world."


BTW, here's a " from Sarah Lane that makes her sound much more reasonable:

"Looking at it now, do you feel you got the credit you deserved on Black Swan?

Definitely not. I feel like the articles that have come out are kind of making me look greedy. In reality what happened was the Dance Magazine editor in chief [Wendy Perron] realized that they took the digital effects video offline and she started blogging about it, how she felt there was cover-up going on, and other people started catching on and writing about it. I don’t want people to think that I’m here to trash Natalie and get fame for myself. I do want people to know that you cannot absolutely become a professional ballet dancer in a year and a half no matter how hard you work. I’ve been doing this for 22 years. Other professional and principal ballet dancers have been doing it for longer. It just takes years to develop yourself as an artist and technically. It’s such a hard field. Ballet dancers don’t get the credit they deserve generally."


http://blogs.wsj.com...es-more-credit/
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#13 Joseph Arch

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 04:30 PM

If you want to learn about the creative process these programmes are anything but boring. Like making a film and pushing everything, disaster is surprisingly close. They are surprisingly earthy.



I have seen more then a 1000 documentaries and I know how they work piece by piece. I was a documentary director in the Caribbean for 1 year working for the Government. The documentaries I have seen in my life have a very high standard. This BBC one just looks like any other hand held one. Nothing different.


@Peter Moretti

Off topic but how are the Oscars voted? I was told 3 years ago that a group of anonymous people vote on each film. Sometimes they get to watch 4 films a day which can be tiring. I don't know if that's the case any longer.
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#14 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 05:49 PM

I have seen more then a 1000 documentaries and I know how they work piece by piece. I was a documentary director in the Caribbean for 1 year working for the Government. The documentaries I have seen in my life have a very high standard. This BBC one just looks like any other hand held one. Nothing different.


Sorry, it's the subject matter, the world being explored and how they tell the story that's important, not the method used to operate the camera. That's only a consideration if the camera operation is not of a high standard.

I suggest you watch one before casting judgement.
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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:02 PM

I for one trained as a competitive runner, and it drives me nuts when I see a running movie, or a movie featuring runners, only they don't use real runners, merely actors who've had a crash course with a personal trainer. There is something far deeper in terms of rhythm and flow that can't be learned in a day, week or year.




To some extent this is the "fighter pilots scoff at Top Gun" rule (and they do).


Any profession depicted onscreen is going to be shown as done by people who don't do it professionally, and it is completely reasonable to use doubles in these situations (and credit them appropriately, especially in an interpretive artform like dance). Even so, it's almost inevitable that a film about people who do a given task for real will always be able to find fault with a film depicting actors pretending to do said task.



Actually this is probably true regardless of what's depicted, as "high level" people in any profession are more likely than anyone else to assume that their way of doing it is the way of doing it, but all that goes to show is that we just can't win.


P




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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:09 PM

This is such a NON-story... OMG, a professional dancer was used for shots in a movie about professional dancing??? The movie was a work of FICTION, the actors aren't playing themselves, Natalie Portman didn't really die at the end, she pretended to. Actors play nuclear scientists, astronauts, ancient Romans, Jesus Christ, etc. all sorts of people that they aren't in real life. And they do it with the help of technicians, stunt men, efx people, costumers, doubles, etc. It's the art of ILLUSION.
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#17 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:41 PM

I agree with David, what is the big deal?

The professional French dancer brought in for Jennifer Beals in Flashdance received ZERO credit. The producers intentionally wanted the audience to believe that Beals did all the dancing herself. Hell they even used a man for a shot in the final scene!

I avoided Black Swan simply because it had an association with the word "ballet." :)

R,
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#18 K Borowski

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:47 PM

Jesus Christ


Now, wait a second, David. . . If you want to bring JC into the conversation, keep in mind that you have to be *someone* to play him, like the original Captain of the Enterprise.


I remember when a certain someone, who shall remain nameless as he is now grown, was heartbroken to find out that the Ewoks in Star Wars weren't played by trained bears, they were actually kids or midgets in teddy-bear costumes.





I am only bothered where actors are given credit where credit clearly isn't due. I'm sure there is some credence here to a "cover up" going on. Portman shouldn't be given credit for the dances of a trained ballerina, for purposes of getting an Oscar or not.
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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:56 PM

I remember when a certain someone, who shall remain nameless as he is now grown, was heartbroken to find out that the Ewoks in Star Wars weren't played by trained bears, they were actually kids or midgets in teddy-bear costumes.


I've been wanting to produce a cable show for years called, "Big Movies, Small Parts." Basically we bring people onto the show who played a Jawa in Star Wars or an Ewok and talk about their experience and how it changed their lives.

I tell ya, it has YouTUBE hit written all over it!

R,
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 07:15 PM

David Mullen uses internetism! Alert, alert!
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