the obsessed artist trope in film

Amelia Mancha, Staff Writer

The movies Black Swan and Whiplash show the story of an artist seeking greatness, who will sacrifice and self deteriorate to be perfect.

In Whiplash, Andrew wants to be in the studio band at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, which is the best music school in the United States. And in Black Swan, Nina wants to be chosen as the new Swan Queen for Swan Lake.

Both of these artists drive on their fear of being like their Parents, mediocre. Andrew’s father is a failed writer who then became a high school teacher while Nina’s mother was an unsuccessful ballerina who now treats Nina like she is still a child when in reality she’s 28.

Both Andrew and Nina face a challenge from their instructor, Andrew’s being Fletcher, the maestro of the jazz band and Nina’s being the artistic director, Thomas. Fletcher needs Andrew to play quicker and more meticulously while Thomas needs Nina to stop being so precise and child-like and fully execute the nature of the Black Swan.

But when they finally get the part they wanted, they are still not fully able to commit to their new roles, which starts their path of self-deprecation.

We then slowly start to see them converting from their old selves into their new roles, Nina getting rid of all her stuffed animals and practicing till her toes bleed, and Andrew playing the drums till his hands are numb and bleeding.

For both Nina and Andrew to not feel content with how they’re performing their instructors bring in alternatives. Since Andrew can’t play the keys fast enough Fletcher brings in Ryan, Andrew’s old peer; Since Nina isn’t strong in playing the Black Swan Thomas brings in Lily, who is the complete opposite of Nina and fits the Black Swan perfectly.

The threat of replacement then brings Nina and Andrew into their downfall in which they start to destroy their old selves.

In Black Swan, Nina starts to go crazy and begins seeing this double of herself. She then starts to argue with her mother and sneaks out to go to a club with Lily where she drinks and does drugs. While in Whiplash, Andrew slowly starts to decay due to the pressure and abuse from Fletcher. He then breaks up with his girlfriend and starts beef with his family.

As they soon become so obsessed with becoming this new person they completely spiral out of control.

Since Andrew gets in a car crash from being in such a rush to make it to his performance, he shows up in a bloody suit resulting in Fletcher forcing him to take a break from drumming which stops his self-destruction. But Nina’s hallucinations start to get worse, which makes her murder a previous ballerina from her studio and slam her mother’s hand in her door. She then begins to hallucinate transforming into becoming an actual swan.

When the big day for their performance shows up neither Nina nor Andrew are ready, they still have a piece of their old selves in them.

Andrew still wants to impress Fletcher and Nina still doubts herself. Fletcher sets Andrew up and makes the band play a song Andrew does not know resulting in Andrew looking ridiculous on stage. Nina hallucinates mid-performance and sees her double, she then panics which makes her get dropped onto the floor.

After failing, both characters are given a choice to either fully commit and perform the best performance of their lives or be unsuccessful.

This results in Andrew starting to play the double-time Latin without Fletcher’s queue. Playing with confidence, Fletcher’s hurtful words now have no meaning to Andrew and he continues to play with all he has.

Nina on the other hand goes back into her dressing room, where she sees Lily sitting in her chair. We then see that it is another hallucination of hers and Nina then attacks her double. The double is strangling Nina forcing her to complete her transformation into the Black Swan. After Nina stabs the hallucination we see that Nina is now completely transformed. After Nina truly embodies the Black Swan in her performance she notices that she stabbed herself instead of her double. Her obsession has fully taken over. But the show had to go on.


Nina sacrifices everything, most likely even her life for one moment of perfection.

Andrew endures emotional and physical abuse from his mentor, which resulted in him growing and becoming a great drummer.

Both Black Swan and Whiplash show the obstacles of the obsessed performer and portray the story of sacrificing yourself for your art.