The encoding and decoding of meaning in visual texts: The nightmare duality of black and white in ‘Black Swan’

The opening dream sequence establishes the surreal style of the film and hints at Nina’s internal conflict, embodied by the white and the black swans she strives to express in her dancing. Nina’s hallucinations take the form of her painful transformation into the black swan, as she pulls black feathers from her body. In the night club she pulls a black top over her white top, consciously choosing to relinquish her innocence. Nina literally destroys herself through the desire to be perfect. The duality of black and white demonstrates how colour can be used to portray the theme and tragic tone.



Aronofsky, Darren. 2010. Black Swan [Film]