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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 4, 2011 at 9:05 AM

Secrets of “Black Swan”

“Black Swan” flits over to Cinerama this week, and I can only imagine how good the movie’s final winged dance sequence will look on that big screen. If you’re interested in finding out what’s behind the movie’s magic, see this breakdown of that scene from the Los Angeles Times, featuring discussion from the movie’s cinematographer, choreographer, makeup artist, editor, sound designer and visual effects supervisor. (Interesting how, as the cinematographer says, it’s one of the only scenes in the film where Portman’s character moves toward the camera; generally they’re at the same distance.) And you can see the layers of effects in this video, released by Fox Searchlight this week, of that scene and others in the film:

I especially love how we see that Portman’s “bird legs” were done with puppetry. It’s also worth noting here that, though the video doesn’t mention it, the LA Times article clearly spells out the contribution made by Sarah Lane, the American Ballet Theatre soloist who was Portman’s dance double for the film and who actually dances the final solo, with Portman’s face tacked on through CGI. (Seems like Lane isn’t getting a lot of attention for this — is she even credited? — as it’s understandable that those behind the film want to support the illusion that it’s all Portman we see. But I’m guessing that, whenever we see Nina’s feet in pointe shoes, they’re more likely to be Lane’s than Portman’s; despite the actress’s commendable ten months of intensive ballet training, it doesn’t approach the many years it takes a ballerina to learn such techniques.)
Think Portman’s going to win, feet or no feet? Or will Annette Bening win the career Oscar she deserves? Or will my pick, Jennifer Lawrence, surprise? You can predict, if you like, in the Times’ Red Carpet Movie Contest, right here, and win a $50 AMC gift card. At any rate, hope you see some good movies this weekend.

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