Oscar Winner 'Black Swan' Resurrects Forgotten Bulgarian Film

Culture | April 8, 2011, Friday // 12:07|  views

Diana Raynova with her father, prominent Bulgaria writer, Bogomil Raynov. Photo by 24 Chasa

A Bulgarian movie, titled "Black Swans," dating from the now-distant 1984, has been resurrected after Darren Aronofsky's  "Black Swan" became an Oscar winner.

At the end of February, pregnant Hollywood star, Natalie Portman, picked up the year's best actress statuette for her deranged ballerina role in the movie.

Soon after that, Bulgarian tabloids claimed Aronofsky has plagiarized the idea from the Bulgarian motion picture, based on the novel of famous Bulgarian writer, Bogomil Raynov, and directed by Ivan Nichev, the Bulgarian daily 24 Chasa (24 Hours) writes Friday. The claims are fueled by the fact several years ago Nichev presented five of his films in Israel, including "Black Swans."

However, Diana Raynova, Raynov's daughter, and the main character in the movie firmly rejects the claims.

"Everyone, who has seen both movies, knows that they have nothing in common, except the torments of a ballerina in the context of the emblematic "Black Swan" ballet," Raynova says, joking it was great the Bulgarian feature was first to be made, otherwise local artists would have been, for sure, accused of plagiarism.

Raynova had been one of the few professional ballerinas cast for the main part of Violeta; the others have been actresses. The hallways and the rehearsal hall of the Opera building in Sofia had been repainted in dark colors in order to accentuate the dark feelings and impressions the movie wanted to inflict. Some of the paint colors still remain today.

At the time, the movie had been snubbed by Bulgarian film circles with comments "how was it possible to focus an entire film on just a ballerina."

"Nichev wanted to cast only ballerinas because he understood such part is difficult to perform. Natalie Portman is an exception. It is obvious she is a great actress because she achieved portraying a true ballerina; even her face – unsecure, reserved – ballerinas have typical facial expressions – they are always unsatisfied with their own performance, regardless of how great it has been. Ballet is the art of perfection," Raynova explains.

At the end, only three of the cast were ballet masters – Raynova, her partner, Yassen Valchanov, and her girlfriend in the film, Irina Stoyanova.

The biggest advantage of the Bulgarian feature had been, however, the inclusion of Latvian-born Maris Liepa, considered one of the most prominent ballet dancers of the 20th century, and one of the brightest Bolshoi Theater stars. Just before the start of the shooting of the movie, Liepa became the Artistic Director of Sofia National Opera (1983 – 1985).

The movie was made during the strongest years of Bulgarian ballet when a large number of talented Bulgarian dancers returned to their homeland, after studying at the Sankt Petersburg Academy. The ballet troupe of the Sofia Opera then had 100 staff, compared to the current 50.

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Tags: Ivan Nichev, Bogomil Raynov, writer, Diana Raynova, Maris Liepa, ballet, ballerina, Bulgarian film, Black Swan, Black Swans, Natalie Portman, oscar


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