As erratic as it seemed, Birdman offered a lot more calm than a superhero film should. A worthy winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, a genius story in which life is a stage.
Birdman tells the story of a washed up actor, known for playing an iconic superhero, seek to reestablish his fame and integrity.
It is the struggle between his ego and his social status that propels us into a journey on learning what is important.
A film with a seemingly obscure narrative that requires reflection, Birdman sells itself as both, an arthouse flick that film students like myself thrive off of, and a star studded film to draw in the unsuspecting audiences. With this in mind, Michael Keaton has a diverse audience to perform the narrative of ‘life as a stage’ to.
Thought provoking and technically seductive, Birdman essentially tells the story that nothing matters.
Being of a generation that lives by quotations that sum up our so-called experiences of living thus far, Birdman rightly opens with a quote in its frame,
“ A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing”.
Positioned obviously as a motivator for Riggan (Keaton), the quote initially misleads us to suit Keaton’s character. Seemingly driving his need to not be defined by the culturally popular role he played as Birdman the superhero, the quote seems to back Riggan up in his pursuit of becoming a credible actor again - seeking so, in the integrity of Broadway.
As the play, and the film continue, both Keaton and Birdman’s audience come to the same conclusion, that nothing matters.
Concurring that life is defined by a social stage on which we perform, initially enforced by the play within a play technicalities of the film’s format, Emma Stone’s character demonstrates a rehabilitative exercise that informs, that human kind takes up a minuscule amount of Earth’s lifespan.
Off-stage, life continues as a biological process, outside of opinion and social status. The ego as nonexistent as it is before a baby recognizes his reflection.
A thing is a thing and nothing else. With the minuscule timeline of humans comes the minuscule significance - or insignificance by result - and worth of our ego and self-obsession -to paraphrase Emma Stone’s character.
Riggan is both an Actor and a social actor, who frees himself upon the realization that he knows of two stages on which to perform.
When the characters are not seamlessly being followed in the play within a play format, they are being watched by inflated interpretation of the ego that is a superhero. That is Birdman.
Upon the film’s conclusion, Riggan gives into the absurdity of embedding one’s self-worth on social validation. Riggan looks down, having unmasked himself from his surgical gauze, to judge the world below him. Aptly named the human construct of a concrete jungle, the film, rightly then, allows Riggan to look above it all, and fly away with his ego counterpart, one that embraces his self worth, not looking for anyone else’s; acknowledging the absurdity of it all.