Clint Mansell, Black Swan Score

Clint Mansell, Black Swan Score

Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Sony Classical 

Release date: 6th December 2010
Running time: 52 min

Composer: Clint Mansell

Exclusive Clint Mansell Interview
Black Swan Review

English composer and musician Clint Mansell has scored for some of my favourite films over the years.

That they happen to be Darren Aronofsky films is no coincidence either, π (1998), Requiem for a Dream (2000), The Fountain (2006) and The Wrestler (2008) are all deeply challenging films on their own but with Mansell’s music, they cross over into something else entirely.

Black Swan

With his music, he underscores the emotion and dialogue, supporting them as they tell a story. Although he also worked on music for the dark thriller, Suspect Zero (2004) and Moon (2009), there’s something about the pairing of Mansell and Aronosfky that just works on a level that is rarely matched by any other director/composer collaboration.

Creation and Destruction seem to be one and the same thing when these two get together. Their work on Black Swan reunites them with this idea of duality using Tchaikovsky’s music for Swan Lake.

Instead of just recreating it, Mansell took a very punk rock attitude towards it and began deconstructing it; ripping away at its layers and tearing at its foundation. From there, he began rebuilding it, filling it with his own work and adding in details which told Nina’s story as she struggles with her identity.


1. Nina’s Dream (2:48)
2. Mother Me (1:06)
3. The New Season (2:39)
4. A Room of Her Own (1:56)
5. A New Swan Queen (3:28)
6. Lose Yourself (2:08)
7. Cruel Mistress (3:29)
8. Power, Seduction, Cries (1:42)
9. The Double (2:20)
10. Opposites Attract (3:45)
11. Night of Terror (8:01)
12. Stumbled Beginnings… (3:51)
13. It’s My Time (1:30)
14. A Swan is Born (1:38)
15. Perfection (5:44)
16. A Swan Song (for Nina) (6:23)

We move from the majestic to the nightmarish in short spaces of time with the cues “A New Swan Queen” and “A Swan Is Born”. Many of the pieces seem to have a second identity, almost playing parallel to their first. They’re haunted by a double, something much darker.

This is also apparent with “Nina’s Dream”, mixing Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Theme” with Mansell’s piercing textures as they push their way to the frontline from within to create a nightmare. “Stumbled Beginnings” fuses “The Danse des Petits Cygnes (Dance of the Little Swans)” with Mansell’s more psychotic undertones, growing more and more urgent with each note that claws at the surface. It’s in these pieces that the line between Tchaikovsky and Mansell blurs as much as the one between Nina and Lily.

Opposites Attract” is a wonderfully morose composition which works its way toward a melancholic climax, intermingling with the drama of what’s playing out on screen as Nina’s grip on the world begins to loosen. Like the quiet and seductive “Loose Yourself” before it, these tracks, although they don’t feature Tchaikovsky’s work, are haunted the Russian composer.

Black Swan

Cruel Mistress” recalls some of those Russian melodies from the past, as do “Mother Me” and “A Room of Her Own”. Yet my favourite track comes at my favourite moment in the film itself. It’s the sublime, heartbreaking and Schadenfreude moment when we hear “Perfection”. It’s the unison of Nina and Lily as the White Swan and the Black Swan but it’s also the point where Tchaikovsky and Mansell are one, and then they all finally break apart, like a star collapsing.

With Black Swan, Mansell has achieved exactly what he set out to do. His score tells you everything emotionally about the story that’s playing out before you, but at the same time, he’s injected so much of himself into Tchaikovsky’s work, despite only ever having a passing interest with the ballet before. By his own admission, he wanted to create something that if Tchaikovsky were to hear today, he would say “Wow! They did some impressive stuff with my work!” – and I think he definitely would!

About Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.