Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Deconstructing Birdman: Part 3: Magical Realism
Okay, so now that I've covered the sub-header, as well as the imagery of Icarus in the beginning, it's now time to tackle something that is at the very heart of the movie--Magical realism. A lot of people are going to watch the film and say, "He's not really levitating in the beginning. He's just imagining it," or, "He's not really flying above the city. See. He stepped out of a taxi cab. It's just his delirium." But come on, man. That's a surface level interpretation of the film (And besides, it doesn't make sense when you consider the ending). So no, I think there is something bigger at stake here. Something much more mystical. You have to remember the director/writers who made this movie. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is Mexican. So what, you're probably saying. Well, I think it's more than just a guess that he's familiar with the works of writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende, who both employed magical realism in their stories. And Birdman is full of magical realism. From the levitating to the drummer of the soundtrack playing in the movie itself. There's something grand going on here. You just have to believe.
Follow me for a moment.
What I think Inarritu was really attempting to do (And you may or may not think he was successful), was in his own meta way, show that in a movie, anything is possible. This goes back to the conceit I mentioned earlier in the sub-header section about the audience's ignorance being virtuous when watching a movie. Again, when we watch a movie, we buy into its own sense of reality. But the question is why? Why do we do this? Is it a willingness to escape from our everyday lives, or something else much more magical? Perhaps, we want to believe that magic actually does exist in this world, which is why we're willing to suspend belief when we see things on the screen. This might be one of the reasons why the ending of the film is so confounding to so many people. It had many wondering, so wait, did he really just fly away?
I'm not going to answer that question yet, but I will ask you this question--why couldn't he have? Just because we are led to believe that every "magical" element in the movie is symptomatic of his schizophrenia, that doesn't mean it actually is. Because, again, in a movie, anything is possible. And I think Inarritu was toying with that idea. So much so in fact, that like the ending of the book, Big Fish (SPOILER ALERT) in which the father actually turns into a fish, in fiction, anything can happen, and you just have to accept it. So I think the magical realism in this film is an example of that. It's a big piece of the puzzle that is Birdman, and one that explains the ending a whole lot more if you're willing to accept it.
Next, I'll cover the role actors in the movie. Please stop by again!