THE BLACK SWAN | REVIEW & QUICK COMP

It isn’t that often we review an ancient movie. THE BLACK SWAN (nope not the Queen Amidala one where she loses her shit at ballet), the one that won the BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY OSCAR in 1942 – yep, a very old movie, hell, my mother wasn’t even a thought at this time. We were offered a couple of copies a few months ago and Kernel Jordan got this one to review. He was confused at first as to why we were reviewing it but alas the reason a movie we have not seen, freebies, competition, win – it’s what we do :). We only have one copy of this to giveaway on DVD so as opposed to a drawn out comp – the first person to email me their deets to jking@saltypopcorn.com.au and leave the comment “Arrrrrgggggghhhhhh me hearty, give it to me” wins – so simple :). THE BLACK SWAN is currently distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Bounty Entertainment. It is available on both DVD and Blu Ray and you can buy it HERE. It is rated PG and runs for 87mins. All the best………..JK.

Kernel Jordan is a professional obsessionist, ‘writer’ of the truth and untruth, movie-review enthusiast, drummer, epileptic and bi-polar alien from a place far away….. He can also be stalked at his own site HERE.

 

THE BLACK SWAN DVD COVER IMAGE
THE BLACK SWAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW & GIVEAWAY | DVD COVER IMAGE

 

BY JORDAN DODD

Now I’ll admit, I had no idea what to expect going into this. I didn’t look it up at all, and actually didn’t know it was an old movie until I read the back of the DVD! I love old film, so I had high hopes. Writing about this film will be a little different, as it is such an old movie, and a period movie at that. The opening title card though was very apt, and had me thinking for a few minutes while giving me a sense of what to expect. It captures the essence of the entire film:

“…when Villainy wore a Sash, and the only political creed in the world was Love, Gold, and Adventure.”

This immediately creates a world for THE BLACK SWAN to take place in. It is an intriguing adventure across the seas and in my case, a tad educational, as the movie is based during the 1600’s, where Britain ruled over Jamaica and was intent on ‘cleaning the Caribbean.’ Of course this is fictional but it had me interested in researching the history of the British Empire.

An early scene had me a little worried I must admit, where a large swordfight occurs but no one is skewered, and many are using their swords as if they were baseball bats. But this scene ends quickly, and barely five minutes into the film the tone suddenly changes, as we see a man who is about to be drawn and quartered. That quickly got a hold of my attention and successfully held onto it, thanks to some incredible, versatile acting from Tyrone Power, not to mention the writing of his character, but also due to the political manoeuvring that takes place. I was never quite sure what was going to happen next or how the movie would end. It isn’t a thriller but it certainly keeps you guessing.

 

THE BLACK SWAN MOVIE IMAGE
THE BLACK SWAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW & GIVEAWAY | JAMIE WARING (TYRONE POWER) & LADY MARGARET DENBY (MAUREEN O’HARA) ON THE AFT OF A SHIP

 

The ruling class is pressuring the King of Jamaica to clean the Caribbean as he has claimed he would do many times before. The rest of the Empire dismiss this notion entirely, as he is not delivering on his promise. The ruling class have a rat in the ranks, leaking information to Pirates, such as the location of certain boats, especially those carrying gold, and if they should expect company. Unsurprisingly then, boats of the Empire are being sunk by Pirates regularly.

Ex-pirate Jamie, who is trying to reform his ways by serving the Empire, is sent to kill an old fellow pirate and friend, Captain Leech, who is responsible for the looting. But before Jamie sets off he essentially forces himself on the beautiful Lady Margaret, played by Maureen O’Hara. She may be as stereotypical as a character could be, but she was fantastic and well written; many of her lines had a lot of bite to them. She repels Jamie repeatedly, but he simply won’t take no for an answer and takes drastic measures to ensure her planned wedding doesn’t happen.

When at sea, sailing for the Empire, Jamie eventually comes across Leech and his fleet. This is where the guessing really begins, as Leech knows Jamie as a former pirate, and the two sign an awkward agreement. The question we have is how will Jamie act? Will he honour the Empire, or will he return to his old ways? The film makes it hard to tell, and this notion begins the final act, which contains some great seaborne action and destruction.

 

THE BLACK SWAN 1942 POSTER IMAGE
THE BLACK SWAN | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW & GIVEAWAY | POSTER IMAGE

 

The quality of the image looks great for such an old movie, though it is far from HD. I’m not sure if it got to Blu-Ray (Ed Note: It sure did – it can be purchased HERE), the DVD does look a little grainy, but one can hardly complain about such a thing when the film is so old. Hell, I didn’t even know colour films existed so long ago! Obviously they did, as this film won an Oscar for its use of colour and its cinematography, which is deserved as the colours are rich, while every scene is captured immaculately and with purpose. Whether it is images of the boats sailing during that magic hour when the sun is setting, or a steady hand to capture the excellent one-on-one swordfights, the film is great to look at, despite some of the old technology used for practical effects.

Unfortunately the film does have its flaws. The love story seems totally irrelevant to the entire plot, but that may just be me, not to mention the era in which the movie was made was very different from today and today’s expectations. There is also only one female, a damsel in distress, but given the film’s age I can forgive that too. The plot can also get a bit confusing, though this is mainly due to the different islands of the Caribbean and the names that come with them. I admit that during the final act I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, or where, but I certainly enjoyed it all.

THE BLACK SWAN is a fun adventure with some fantastic one-on-one swordfights as well as some amazing camerawork. It isn’t perfect, but it is certainly worth watching.

 

3 and a Half Pops