Birdman or (‘the unexpected virtue of ignorance’): Transcendence in unexpected places

  • Author(s): Nikolai Blaskow
  • When: 2015-12
  • Where: St Mark's Review
  • Birdman opens with the sounds of a haunting drum as Raymond Carver's poem is revealed word by word, line by line, giving way to symphonic music and then the title and subtitle, and more symphonics as a meteorite (or is it space junk?) traces a fiery trail through the air - and, most unexpected of all, with the ticking of a clock, while a well built man, his back to us, naked but for his underpants, in a trancelike meditational pose reminiscent of the swamis and the yogis, hovers above a simple apartment bedroom floor. A voice breaks in, 'How did we end up here? This place is horrible' - the great metaphysical question and its existentialist angst. Which is undercut by, It smells like balls. It brings us plummeting to earth, grounds us somehow. Then the voice (simultaneously exterior and interior) identifies itself: We don't belong in this s***hole. And the spell is broken. Finally, at the end of the film, from such unpromising ground, springs a tender shoot (I'm speaking metaphorically) and with it the unfolding and unfurling of the most beautiful human spirit of a man who feels himself to be 'beloved on the earth'.

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