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“Birdmana�� Gives Insight Into Need to Respect Art

Jenny Chay

Jeff Smith, Senior Editor

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“He’s gonna get on stage and risk everything. What’re you gonna be doing?” This is one of the quotes from the film “Birdman” that depicts the coarse and sometimes unforgiving attitude of the film. This movie has many themes and talented actors that depict a play that is struggling in its final stages up to opening night.

Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, does a fantastic job of portraying Thomson’s need for acceptance. Thomson is a washed-up Hollywood actor on Broadway who wants to be respected and validated after years of not receiving glory through his many Birdman films.

Edward Norton, who plays Mike Shiner, has blurred the lines so much between real-life and the stage that it has begun to physically wear on him. He is always snarky, can’t hold a relationship, and has problems with erectile dysfunction.

Zach Galifianakis portrays Jake, who has just about given up on Thomson. Jake is Thomson’s lawyer and best friend who has tried to help Thomson as much as he can.

There’s a general aura of tension and delusion on the set of Thomson’s self-directed play, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Thomson can’t shake his old character, Birdman, who talks to him and gives him advice in moments of self-doubt. He listens to Birdman as he is trying to turn his life around and become famous again, this time on his own terms. It is in not listening to Birdman though, that Thomson finds his happiness.

Thomson’s definition of success is getting a good review from The New York Times theater critic Tabitha Dickinson. In a sense, she will determine the worth of Riggan Thomson and his play with one written piece. On the night before the play, Thomson confronts Dickinson about labeling plays instead of enjoying them. He tells her, “You mistake those sounds in your head for true knowledge.”

Mexican director Alejandro G IA?rritu brilliantly crafted the movie, and won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2015. Almost all of the scenes are uncut and look like they were taken in one shot. It is suggested that the film has the perspective of Birdman who follows Thomson as his psyche.

IA?rritu makes the point that nothing in the film is improvised. In his production notes he said, “It was a study in timing, with the precision of a clock. It was shot every day as one scene. You shot in continuity. Usually you get five takes here, get 12 takes here, get close-ups, lot of choices to stitch together a performance. There is none of that here.”

People can relate to the movie Birdman because almost everyone has an inner need to succeed and feel respected. Those in a creative line of work should try not to get discouraged because of what other people think, and they shouldn’t think that their work isn’t valuable. There should be some passion in what creative people do that drives them. The people who produce works of art have the final say regardless of it being accepted or rejected by society. The justification should not be in the acceptance of the work but in the meaning behind the work of art itself.

In the movie there is a lack of respect for Thomson’s work. In one scene, Thomson’s daughter Sam, played by Emma Stone, said that he is doing the play for himself and that the only real concern of people watching the play is where they are going to go have their cake and coffee when it’s over. For creative people and their work, there shouldn’t be a feeling that what we create isn’t important.

In the final scene of the play there is an uneasy feeling as Thomson delivers his final lines in the play. This movie ends with a lot of ambiguity and is packed full of emotion. The movie attempts to give the perspective and an account of the trials of everybody who is involved in the play. This movie demands multiple viewings.

 

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“Birdmana�� Gives Insight Into Need to Respect Art