How the Classic Ballets of ‘Birds of Paradise’ Reflect the Film’s Plot: Amazon Prime Review

This article contains major spoilers for birds of paradise.

For a film about ballet, there’s not a lot of dancing in birds of paradise. What there is is a lot of ballet talk that might leave those who haven’t bandaged their bleeding feet in a seedy Parisian boarding school scratching their heads without a bun.

The fundamentals of Sarah Adina Smith birds of paradiseaccording to the novel Bright and burning stars by AK Small and streaming now on Amazon Prime, might sound familiar: two ballerinas battle for their institution’s top spot through a series of mind games and betrayals. It’s even littered with the same clichés as that other dance-by-the-book thriller: a brutal director (Jacqueline Bisset), a bad girl corrupting her straight peer, an overbearing mother (Caroline Goodall), and abundant sexual tension. But at the same time Black Swan recounts his action through a ballet (Swan Lake), birds of paradise features several classic works during its run.

Dancers from the best boarding school in Paris compete for The Prize: a contract for one male and one female student to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet. Kate (Diana Silvers) is new to school in the United States, but her fiercest competition is Marine (Kristine Froseth), or M (short for “Puppet”, for the many people who puppet her). The young dancers are sent home one by one until there are only 10 left to play for the prize, when the students are paired up to perform a pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet.

As every high school student across the country can attest, the plot of Shakespeare’s most popular play needs no explanation. Its implementation in birds of paradise, however, is a bit more confusing. While one might call M and Kate star-crossed lovers, the relevant theme is death.

Despite M and Kate’s best efforts, the school tournament will only reward one dancer, so M takes the metaphorical knife and sacrifices his chance to win the prize for Kate. Although none of the duos present in the competition presented Prokofiev’s score of the Romeo and Juliet ballet (instead, it’s the thrilling rhythm of Chromatics’ “Whispers in the Hall”), M’s solo performance does – fittingly, the piece played during Juliet’s death. Kate wins, but only realizes three years later that her passion died that night alongside M’s career at the Paris Opera Ballet.

Another classical dance piece featured in birds of paradise is Gisele, a mid-19th century French masterpiece that Kate and M score midway through the film. The girls try to distill some of the ballet’s plot to viewers through a momentary re-enactment (Kate: “Giselle! My love! Don’t go!” M: “I must leave you or my heart will ache for eternity! “). What they leave out is that Gisele is the tragic story of a sick peasant who falls in love with an already engaged prince. When the heroine discovers the impending nuptials of her love, she dances so hard that she dies. In the second act, the prince travels to Giselle’s tomb where an army of undead women despised by men called Wilis plan to assassinate him. Giselle rises to protect her beloved prince with bittersweet results (spoiler: Giselle stays dead, the prince stays alive).

Love, passion, death. The classics the girls encounter at school repeatedly invoke the grim specter of loss, but unlike Juliet, GiseleThe heroine lasts a little longer than her funeral. After all, what could be more powerful than passion? A passion that raises the dead, which Kate and M know well. M confides in Kate that she continues to dance to revive the spirit of her deceased brother and Kate reveals that she does the same for her late mother. More importantly, the two repeatedly fight against their school’s scythe, their own Wilis army that slaughters the ballerinas’ dreams with cruelty and misogyny (“What makes a perfect prima ballerina is total submission”, said a fuckboy dancer to Kate). M manages to escape, but Kate is a victim.

When they meet again years after The Prize, M eulogise: “Blessed is she who falls. Blessed is she who rises again. »

This platitude is delivered outside the theater after Kate starred in Bird of Fire. This early 20th century work, written by Stravinsky and choreographed by Michel Fokine for the Ballets Russes de Paris dance company, depicts the story of a flock of mythical birds. One is captured by a lovesick man, who pulls a feather out of her. The feather will call the bird to its service if it needs it, which it does when it finds itself in a pickle with an evil wizard. She helps him defeat the wizard and is later freed from him, but the ballet’s finale is more concerned with the man’s fate and his rekindled love.

Kate’s flame is fading, her feathers ripped out by the world of ballet and its cruel politics. But her stolen plumage is the consequence of what she first stole from Mr.

“You really forced me to face myself,” M told Kate. “And I feel free now. Hope you find it too.

M switched to choreography at a Euphoria-esque glitter and neon club, Jungle, where revelers must consume a psychedelic worm to enter and watch the ballet. The final ballet of the film is the one choreographed by M, with Kate in the lead. It’s inspired by a story Kate’s father told her about gods covering the Earth in a blanket, blocking the sky and leaving the planet’s animals in fear. A brave bird flies to the sky and makes a hole in the blanket. Then he picks a million more. The gods are impressed with the bird; they agree to cover the Earth only half of each day with the now star-speckled blanket.

In labor, Kate throws herself on the ground and pound the Earth to keep it there like the corpses of Romeo, Juliet and Giselle. Her heart beat faster and faster, eventually glowing through her skin. She floats from the ground and climbs into the rafters of the theater, free at last.