Assuming the final scene of Black Swan is not a hallucination, Nina injured herself some significant time earlier in her dressing room and danced two entire sections as the black, and then the white, swan, which included a costume change. Even if the timeline itself is also a hallucination, she at least danced the final (vigorous) scene, so the injury can't have been that serious.

Yet the movie ends with a "fade to white light" effect, often used in movies to signify transcendence to an ethereal form - ie dying.

What is the likelihood that she recovers and lives or dies of her injuries?


11 Answers 11


Page 112 of the script

Leroy follows her gaze and discovers the spot of blood, which has grown in size.

What did you do?
I felt it.
Oh my god.
Someone, get help.

Leroy looks back at her. She smiles.

It was perfect.

He understands. The APPLAUSE grows more and more faint. Her eyes glaze over and everything goes completely SILENT.

Nina lies there motionless, a smile frozen on her face.


We don't know/aren't told if she actually dies, but at the very least, she passes out/goes into shock from her self-inflicted knife wound. Although, the description of "eyes glaze over" does seem to indicate that the screen writer intended her to die.

Another telling tidbit is that even though the screen play ends "cut to black" the director/editor chose to end it by "fading to white", which as you yourself point out, is usually meant to indicate passing into the light/heaven.

  • "Fading to white" could also symbolize the final transformation of the black swan. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 12:27

According to Natalie Portman herself:

Portman has stated that she doesn't believe Nina dies at the end of the film. She sees it more as Nina having to kill the little girl in order to mature into a woman.

It all depends on how you look at it.

  • 1
    What's the source? (Or did you interview her yourself? :D)
    – magnattic
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 16:18
  • 7
    I asked her this morning when she was making me breakfast @atticae
    – pt18cher
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 14:11
  • 1
    – pt18cher
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 14:12
  • That's one possible interpretation since it's a coming-of-age drama. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 8:21

As others have pointed out in the thread, the fact that she dances vigorously after injuring herself indicates that the wound couldn't have been severe. Therefore, I think the conclusion's fade to white merely highlights the fact that Nina lost her mind (Portman's simplistic theory notwithstanding). True, such a fade typically implies the tragic death of a character, but in this instance the tragedy is that Nina has gone insane.

  • Welcome to Movies & TV! An acceptable answer and a conclusion I happen to agree with. Just FYI, though, Stack Exchange is not a forum, nor are these 'threads' like you may be used to. Please take your time, perhaps register your account, and peruse the help center and tour.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 16:06

The implication is that she dies, but the entire movie requires some suspension of disbelief. She actually stabs herself between acts, and doesn't begin bleeding until the end of the second act, which of course is impossible.


In my opinion she doesn't lose her mind and she doesn't die. At the end I believe she isn't even injured. All was symbolic. She becomes the Swan Princess and felt all her emotions. She "killed" her opponent as black swan, then as a white swan she is scared and feels regret, until the moment when she "dies". She previously had visions of injuries, on her fingers or the back. There was also blood under the door that disappeard, so her injury could also be a vision. He kept telling her to lose herself in it, and she knows this is the only way to achieve perfection. Not on this scale but this has happened to actors many times. Heath Ledger had problems getting out of the role of Joker.

  • 1
    Incorrect. The dance director sees the blood (and is shocked etc), so the injury was real, not imaginary.
    – Bohemian
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 10:29
  • While there was real injury, I also took it as a symbolic scene, where Nina kills the black swan within her and discovers the purity in herself, hence fading into the white light ..
    – Spectra
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 11:29

Whether she physically dies or not.....the white swan or light side of her is transformed to become the dark or at least include the dark part of her. That in essence creates the whole. We are always light and dark and to embrace our dark side is to become whole.


It is possible that she didn't bleed so badly until the last act because she didn't pull the piece of glass out until after her role as black swan.only When lily came to congratulate her on her success as the white swan did she come to the realization that she had stabbed herself, and then removed the small piece of glass remaining in her torso. The piece of glass could have been obstructing the bleeding process by keeping a main artery closed off and when she pulled it out it could've allowed her to bleed more freely. But then again it could've all just been a hallucination it's really hard to tell with this movie. I'm still trying to understand what actually happened during the scene where she hallucinated Beth stabbing herself in the face with the nail file, and then she saw herself in place of beth, and then ran to the elevator and she had the bloody nail file in her hand...but she hadn't stabbed herself in the face...so what happened there? Was beth really stabbing herself and she got the nail file from her and hallucinate herself then? Or did she stab beth? Or did none of it happen? The movie left me with a lot of questions but it's still a great psychological thriller.


in my opinion, She really died, I think she was so worried about the part and all the others were telling her to let go that she actually became the swan queen, and as we all know the swan queen dies at the end (which Nina believes its beautiful) so it means Nina had to die as well.


I think the main thing here is she breaks the mirror glass off inside of herself causing it to bleed less and coagulate she then pulls it out later towards the end causing the wound to bleed more freely. It is my belief she does indeed die at the end of the movie.


Did Nina die? Yes and No - it doesn't say whether she died which is what makes it perfect.

It simply says - Realize you desires in life much much before you lay on your death bed. In other words, convert to a black swan. From one perspective, Nina didn't die but converted from White Swan to Black Swan (fading white light). Further explanation given below in layman terms.

In my opinion, the movie is full of personified characters:

Teacher: Teacher of life or mind. It may appear that he's portrayed as lustfully aggressive, but in the context of what the writer wants to project, he is a positive character simply because the lust (in the given context) symbolizes protagonist's desires in life which is what the teacher is trying to uncover and help her get to her (positive) dark side. When he says "Go and touch yourself, that's your mini home work for the day", he means "Introspect yourself"

Black swan: unfulfilled desires many realize towards the end of their lives. In the movie it is shown as lust. Lust, here, is symbolized as positive desires which is what the teacher tries to encourage his students about. The teacher says "open your mouth", "lose yourself" etc. Teacher (of life/mind) suggests her to open up and let herself free and enjoy life rather than staying in her own shell/cell of restrictions/social attention/anxiety/fear etc. At the end the protagonist does open her mouth willfully - indicates she has opened up in life. In the middle of the story, the teacher gives her a home work and she does it with passion, which shows she does internally have the dark side but is unwilling to open up.

White swan: represents closed minded futile innocence in us. Many a times, people live just for society portraying themselves as innocent albeit they have an inner darker side. The only time they realize this is on their death bed (recollect the last seen). It takes blood/mirror (introspection/self-realization) out of you to visualize what you actually need/needed in life, but phew! there's only one life. Reality gives you only one life and you can't switch to another unless you realize before your death and become a black swan. The white swan (unnecessary innocence, hesitancy, fear of society) has to die for completing your life (black swan) and making it perfect!

Death/fading white light: Death of innocence and emergence of her dark side. To be perfect in life, we need to lose ourselves and let loose our dark side without fear of society

Last scene: In life, we fluctuate between innocence and our inner dark side. As soon as the inner mirror (shown as glass mirror embedded in her blood) comes out (stands for introspection), she starts enjoying life and performs her best. The white swan i.e. unnecessary innocense (indicated by her white dress) dies and black swan emerges. This is indicated by the Teacher acknowledging her with a smile when she says - "I've felt it, I am perfect"

The movie also says - Do not focus into others or your competitions or politics (stands for challenges in life) but just focus on yourself and you win. The only thing that can stop you is yourself!

  • +1 for a very well thought out answer. Oh, and welcome to Movies & TV! I'm not sure I understand the down vote here, especially as whomever did it seemed to not feel it appropriate to also down vote the other three (very simplistic) answers as well. Boggles my mind actually. While I gave the "factual" or script-based answer, this one gives a much more thought provoking one.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 16:03

I belive that Nina does die since the movie indicates how Nina completely embraced the role of her new character, she was completely engulfed by it. In the play oddete commites suicide, Nina does too.

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