That was amazing. I just finished watching Birdman, and I still have no idea exactly what I’m feeling other than amazement. The main plot itself isn’t overtly complex or original. A play is being put on within the movie where the play itself in ways represents the life of the main character, Riggan. What makes it more interesting is that while this is one of the underlying plot devices of the movie, it is no where near as obvious as I expected it would be. The play being similar to the life of Riggan is with few exceptions a loosely alluded to point rather than something they tried to hone in on. What had a bigger effect was a movie that Riggan was previously in, which was represented in the form of delusions of voices, people, and even events. You see, Riggan was the star of a major motion picture featuring a super hero, Birdman, and delusions of the hero metaphorically represent his ego. His conflicts with his ego in this form as well as others, as well as his unrelenting desire for success despite everything falling apart constantly, and ultimately his imperfections are what drive this movie forward. Refreshingly, rather than having him learn some lesson about keeping his ego under control and not letting obsession rule ones life or some overused device such as that, he ultimately goes off the deep end and it works. Sure, this may sound like a pathetic way to deal with the situation, but with the entire build up to it, but with only subtle hints that it would happen, it was awing to see it all come together, even though there are various tremendously different ways to interpret how to do so (more on that later). The film also includes various relationships between the actors and other staff, but while feeling impactful at the time, never seem to take away the focus from the main character. Many threads begin and abruptly end or are never brought up again, but with the pace of the movie it just seems to work. The cinematography was also amazing, and while I have very little knowledge on the subject, the use of a continuous flow from scene to scene with even semi abrupt transitions used obviously intentionally was something even I noted and was impressed by.
The last point that was interesting, frustrating, confusing, and ultimately satisfying was the device of the main character having powers. Now this gets into a discussion of the ending, so obvious spoiler warning. Throughout the film, he is shown to have super natural powers. Essentially telekinesis. He can float. He can fly. He can move stuff around with his mind. At least, that’s what the film’s audience sees. Almost everything he does has an easy explanation of being in his mind. No one else can see it happening, only Riggan and movie watchers. In some instances it becomes incredibly obvious that it is purely happening in Riggan’s head. For example if he was really flying around New York others would clearly notice. Furthermore, in one instance, after showing him flying to a destination, they clearly show a taxi cab driver mad that he didn’t get paid, showing that his delusion was clearly only that. What makes this interesting is after the scene where he actually shoots himself on stage. There is a major transition and he wakes up in a hospital bed. His ex-wife is there and supportive. His agent comes in and tells him that he made it, that his play was a tremendous success that would go down in history. He seems relevant in the new world of social media that had left him behind. His daughter finally seems to connect with him. There doesn’t appear to be any major damage from the shooting. And he seems to finally leave his past and Birdman behind. Then when hes the only one left in his hospital room he goes to the window, and disappears. His daughter walks in, panics at her father’s disappearance, and then goes to the window and looks down scared. After which, she looks up, and then smiles.
This is where the issues of interpretation come in. What exactly happened here? There are many to look at this, and I won’t go over them as all of you can clearly use the internet, and will instead detail how I’m choosing to interpret it. I’m going to go with is in my mind the simplest and ‘happiest’, for lack of a better word, explanation. His daughter looks up and sees him flying, which astounds her and causes her to smile. The obvious issue here, is that there is no room for this being a delusion. This would clearly mean that Riggan really does have powers, which conflicts with many of the previous scenes. Furthermore, this interpretation means that everything that had happened in the epilogue really happened. He made it. His ridiculous antics fueled by his ego and obsession paid off big time and he’s realigned as he wished to when he left the movie business. This point is something that many see as a horrible way to end the film and as self defeating, but personally, it is something that I enjoy tremendously seeing for once, as generally such a thing isn’t even possible through broad interpretations. I know its a bit of a stretch to take things as such, but as I’ve stated in earlier posts, I am the type of person that takes anything vague or open to interpretation and formulates a definitive way to see it in my mind that I personally would like the best, and then views the work based on that rather than just looking at it as something artistic and what not from afar. That’s why I like media that leaves aspects open to the consumers, as I believe that this allows me to enjoy the work closest to how I want to, and thus allows me to enjoy a lot more. For example, there are a lot of other interpretations that I would dislike significantly. Hence, I choose to completely ignore them, and instead I’ve enjoyed Birdman to the fullest.
As a last note, I have some free time, so I will be binge watching a bunch of movies I need to catch up on over the next week approximately and posting about them here. This is just the first. There will be various types and genres. Just everything that I think I should watch that I haven’t yet. I’ll go back to posting about anime after that.