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Black Swan by Clint Mansell (Review)

posted Dec 1, 2010, 11:34 AM by Kaya Savas

When Clint Mansell scores a Darren Aronofsky film it's usually reason to take notice. Aronofsky and Mansell are one of those director/composer collaborations that shows how important score is to a film. There is a reason that Mansell has scored every single one of Aronofsky's features. Their last outing together resulted in one of the best scores of the decade without a doubt. The Fountain is an absolute masterpiece and in my opinion Mansell's best work. If you haven't heard that score I highly urge you to check it out.

For Black Swan don't expect something similar to Mansell's previous scores. With Black Swan Mansell had to step back and take himself out of the score slightly to adopt the music of Tchaikovsky. Swan Lake was a huge part of the story (for obvious reasons) and Tchaikovsky's masterful music to that ballet had to be part of it. So what Mansell has done is infused Swan Lake into his score. I guess you can look at it by saying the "Black" in the score is Mansell and the "Swan" is Tchaikovsky. There are lots of dark undertones that have Mansell stamped all over them, but he never shies away from letting the spirit of Swan Lake take over.

The score becomes a ballet in itself if you are familiar with Mansell's style. He dances around the iconic music with his own styling and tries to bring a fresh modern approach to it while still retaining all that makes it so special. The score is delicate but always has a brooding undertone that suggests something is growing. It all lends itself to the story and to the character of Nina.

I do understand the importance of utilizing Swan Lake in this score and how it needed to take up the space that it did, but somehow while listening I was wishing for more Mansell. The score doesn't shake you that hard emotionally, but in the end it was a very rewarding experience. "A Swan Song (For Nina)" is my favorite track because it really closes the album well and every note struck resonated with me.

For Mansell fans this is a no brainer, but even for casual score listeners it really is worth the time. It does something rather unique in extracting the DNA of Tchaikovsky's music and blending it into Mansell's. It's not something incredibly memorable, but it does leave a lasting effect.