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Blu-ray: BLACK SWAN (2010)

Fox's AVC-encoded transfer of Darren Aronofsky's dark ballet thriller is true to its source. Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique used a combination of 16mm film and digital cameras. For a relatively low-budget production, the smaller cameras were easier to move around and give the filmmakers a documentary feel. The 1080p Blu-ray is mixed bag of scenes with heavy grain and sharper digital imagery. So the noise to be found in the darker scenes, could be from the digital source. Despite these issues, the presentation provides nice detail in the brighter scenes. Note Nina's pink bedroom. That serves as a good transition into the transfers best quality. While the palette is mostly white, black and gray, those tones are represented in perfect contrast and inky black levels. As for any digital anomolies, I found none.

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Fox's AVC-encoded transfer of Darren Aronofsky's dark ballet thriller is true to its source. Aronofsky and cinematographer Matthew Libatique used a combination of 16mm film and digital cameras. For a relatively low-budget production, the smaller cameras were easier to move around and give the filmmakers a documentary feel. The 1080p Blu-ray is mixed bag of scenes with heavy grain and sharper digital imagery. So the noise to be found in the darker scenes, could be from the digital source. Despite these issues, the presentation provides nice detail in the brighter scenes. Note Nina's pink bedroom. That serves as a good transition into the transfers best quality. While the palette is mostly white, black and gray, those tones are represented in perfect contrast and inky black levels. As for any digital anomolies, I found none.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 matches the picture presentation wonderfully. Great use of the back speakers and directionality serve the psychological thriller well. Unexpected noises from behind can even spook the most jaded viewer. The score and music are mixed terrifically, never overplaying the dialogue. The LFE track comes into play during the nightclub scene where the house music is thumping.

Sadly the release does not feature any commentary tracks. I would have loved to hear Aronofsky run down his process scene by scene. What we get as a next best thing in the nearly hour long "Black Swan Metamorphosis." The making-of doc talks with the filmmakers and actors and really does delve behind-the-scenes to see how they brought the film to life. The impression one gets is that it was a tight and tough shoot, but everyone was happy with the result. In one candid moment, Natalie Portman pretends to shoot herself in the head after having to do another take of a dance number. The doc really gets into what motivated the director and its stars. The best part is a breakdown of the film's visual effects.

The rest of the special features are short promotional type snippets that highlight the ballet, production design and costume design. The first doesn't go much deeper than the making-of doc, but the latter two add some nice additional insight. "Profile: Natalie Portman" talks with the actress about the training that she went through to prepare for the role. "Profile: Darron Aronofsky" focuses on how the story came to be and how he approached the visual look.

Additionally, there are two conversations between director and his star. "Preparing for the Role" and "Dancing with the Camera" say many of the same things as the "Profile" pieces, but its nice to see the back and forth between the filmmaker and his muse.

Lastly, there are Fox Movie Channel promos for the film that talk with the cast, including Portman, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey and Vincent Cassel, who speaks the most openly. Another Fox Movie Channel promo features Aronofsky where he talks in general about what a good director needs.

The disc also includes trailers, sneal peaks and BD-Live features.

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Rick DeMott
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