Birdman: Art Imitating life

A Method To the Madness Nov 01, 2020

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's -- Oh wait you were right the first time.

What exactly about Iñárritu's Birdman evokes that existential angst that other films like American beauty achieve? Is there a name for it? What are the qualities that make film and theatre unique mediums, and what is the significance of this blending of the two? You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.

Patrick: I love how that conflict of film vs theatre is represented through the characters of Riggan and Mike. That conflict is such a rich vein of meaning that permeates the film. I like how Mike throughout the film espouses how Theatre is a medium closer to truth, because unlike film, theatre has no pretention, because its a transient medium, because that how plays are. There are certain and unique talent attached to each production of a play, and that's the only time you'll ever see it, because it's not recorded. So each time its different.
Contrast this to film which is memorialised and lasts forever. so in this instance, film represents leaving an imprint on history to be immortal, whereas Theatre is all about living in the moment.

Michi: Yea okay interesting. Well that's what Mike goes on about right? He feels alive when he's on stage, that's why he gets a boner on stage. Maybe if Mike was doing it for a movie, and he was being filmed with a camera he wouldn't feel that same life that he feels in theatre.

Patrick: Yea I like how - You'd think that Mike being this theatre buff who's all about truth, that it would give him the philosophical high ground to Riggan's character, but I like how both of them live uniquely vapid lives. So Riggan is unfulfilled because he's too worried about being adored. Whereas Mike is too concerned with the opposite, which is the process of selfless expression. So giving himself to the artform, and as you mentioned, this has a negative effect on him because he's only only able to live vicariously through his acting, and unable to actually live a fulfilling life of his own. That's such a cool contrast between those two characters.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. Please take a moment and review the podcast where you find it. It really helps.

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Patrick Lovern

Patrick Lovern is the co-host of A Method To The Madness podcast. An aspiring filmmaker, with a passion for all philosophy; religious, scientific, artistic, and otherwise.

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