lisbeth zwerger’s Swan Lake {2002} is beautifully strange. delicate watercolors shift between impermanence and reality.
from odette’s* swan headed glove to the impenetrable mists, we float in a world where dream logic reigns.
i love the awkward transformation of the swan maidens. it’s ideas like this that set zwerger apart from her peers. never content to make a picture merely pretty, instead she uses her skill and tender painting style to infuse the picture with delicate beauty while showing us an unconventional scene.
the swan queen flees. the excellent use of white paper gives the whites in this picture a brilliant glowing quality. the hybrid statues provide quiet nods to the theme.
while we know swan lake as one of the great tragedies of ballet, according to zwerger’s epilogue, tchaikovsky originally wanted a happy ending, so that’s what she gives us. her touch is never saccharine and the happy ending for the characters feels welcome. while not a book for everyone, it will no doubt please introspective visual children with strong imaginations.*zwerger refrains from referring to the characters as siegfried, odette, and odile.

on a side note: i love well done happy endings. it’s one of my pet peeves when sad endings are tacked to give a false sense of importance to the subject matter or rendering of the story. “city of angels” anyone? first of all, why remake “wings of desire?” and when you do, you give it a sad ending? way to completely miss the entire theme of the film.

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