Postechian’s Pick: Birdman
Postechian’s Pick: Birdman
  • Reporter Lee Ji-Hwan
  • 승인 2022.09.14 20:04
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▲Birdman (2015)
▲Birdman (2015)

The main character of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is Riggan Thomson, an aging actor trying to revive his fading career by becoming an artist on Broadway after his long-time role as a superhero in Hollywood. After receiving continuous criticism from critics and failing to obtain public attention, he is now directing and acting in a stage production.
The film starts with Riggan levitating above the ground in the lotus position in his dressing room. Unlike his peaceful posture, a voice resembling his old superhero, Birdman, is constantly complaining in the background. He recruits Mike Shiner, one of the most talented Broadway stars, who even helps Riggan to rewrite parts of his Broadway play.
Mike introduces Riggan to Tabitha, the most renowned critic of Broadway. During the final preview, Riggan finds himself locked outside while smoking before the final scene. He walks around the block to the theater entrance in his underwear. When he enters the theater, the audience laughs but is soon quieted by his performance. After a successful preview, Sam, Riggan’s daughter, shows a video of him running in the streets of New York in his underwear with millions of views. Riggan goes to a bar and finds Tabitha. She tells Mike that he is the exact exemplar of what she considers the current problem of modern Broadway: Hollywood superheroes with no credentials taking up space that should be allotted to true talents. Riggan, angered by her words, states that she just labels with nothing at stake while he risked everything for this play. 
Riggan leaves the bar and falls asleep in the streets. When he wakes up, Birdman in his black suit starts to follow Riggan as he heads back to the theater. He starts to fly around New York, and enters the theater with a taxi driver demanding him to pay while claiming he is crazy. As Riggan prepares for the first performance, he remembers Mike telling him that he did not feel intimidated by a prop gun. He brings a pistol on stage and the performance ends with a gunshot. I would like to stop the summary here, in hope that the readers find this short excerpt interesting enough to watch this masterpiece. In the final scene, Riggan manages to let go of his alter ego, Birdman and has an ambiguous ending which can be interpreted in multiple ways.
Birdman received four Oscar nominations, including the best cinematography award. Many critics praised how the movie was an one long shot and used drums and cymbals appropriately to maintain an edgy vibe. During time transitions between scene changes, the camera continuously moves around the narrow corridors or the streets of New York to make the movie look like one long take. Birdman also successfully portrays Riggan’s broken inside through the visual representation of his old character.
The movie throws multiple questions about art and the role of criticism while giving the viewers the liberty of deciding whose perspective they would like to believe. Many factors make this movie look like it is happening in real life: references to actors like Robert Downey Jr and casting choices like choosing Mike Keaton to act as Riggan, who was 63 when cast, with his most famous work being Batman in 1989. There are scenes that act as evidence of Riggan’s power being just his imagination. Ambiguity is a clear theme in Birdman, which could spark some frustration, just like Riggan who suffers from existential frustration and anxiety throughout the whole movie. Overall, Birdman is a visually stunning work that makes the viewers constantly wonder whether anything in the film was real.