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Analysis of the film Birdman
Film or movies may be used to research intercultural contact because they depict how people from various cultures communicate. According to Bellour and Constance, most films have a message that they convey to the viewer (5). The messages can be about societies and how they interact, politics, religion, or bringing several themes to light at once, so it is not uncommon to see a film that incorporates many themes or messages. Films or movies are often used as tools and sources of knowledge by researchers who research or teach intercultural communication. In a few cases however, some films might get cultures wrong and give them traits that they do not possess in reality especially for commercial films. This mainly happens if the producers of the film use their ideologies instead of relying on real information and knowledge.
Caldwell asserts that in modern films, there is a trend where most film directors are interested in intercultural situations (12). This can be attributed to the fact that plots with an intercultural ambience to them usually bring an exciting conflict or a fine-drawn interaction between the characters in the film which captivates the viewers. The interest of the directors in intercultural situations can also be due to the fact that the film directors come from different cultural backgrounds making them to include the various cultures in the films or they could be from culturally mixed backgrounds. Culturally mixed backgrounds mean that both parents of an individual come from two different cultures making the individual in question to adopt the traits of both cultures. Most film makers in modern films also tend to go for accuracy and consistency in the ethnography of people. Ethnography can be defined as the study of people and their cultures. This implies that the film makers go an extra step in carrying out research and getting accurate information about the cultures they use in their films.
Birdman is a 2014 American black comedy film which is based on a short story called What We Talk about When We Talk about Love. Riggan Thomson is a former cinema superhero character known as Birdman. He wants to make Broadway production a successful one because he hopes that this will brighten up his career which is stagnant and meaningless according to him. Riggan hopes that the production will make him a real star unlike most of the others who are just washed-up movie stars. According to him, real artists usually ask themselves questions about the meaning of love and life.
In the film, the success of Riggan’s play is threatened a number of setbacks during the opening night. One of the cast mates supposed to be in the play gets an injury and Riggan is forced to hire another actor known as Edward Norton. Edward has a bad attitude and his acting undermines the artistry of Riggan as well as his script. In the final scene of the play, Riggan finds Naomi Watts, who is his love interest in bed with Edward Norton. Riggan gives a speech about how he has never been loved and while he is doing so, an aroused Norton gets out of bed making the audience to break into laughter. These ruins everything and the chance that Riggan had long waited for to prove to the world that he is a true artist is ruined as well. Riggan is on the verge of committing suicide. He feels that the choices he has made in life are meaningless and this puts him in a state of despair.
Birdman Film and Its Relation to Culture
Birdman film is representative of different cultures. Throughout the film, the actors and actresses are used to bring out cultures that are found in the real world. The film mirrors various cultures for instance the culture where people opt for how their career will be judged by the masses in terms of being well received instead of basing their careers on true artistry. In the film, birdman says that what is real in life is mass mentality rather than true artistry. Birdman film is a record of the daily lives led by people and shows what happens in reality. Through the film, our eyes are opened to the struggle that artists go through particularly those who produce or direct plays. We are able to see the pressure that people go through so that they can feel that they are leading a meaningful life. In the real world, people have that feeling of being meaningless and they try whatever means they have to show that they are meaningful.
The motion pictures used in Birdman film can give a good evidence of what really happens in different cultures. An illustration is when in the scene; Riggan takes a pistol and blasts off his nose. This shows how in real world cultures people commit suicide when faced with desperation. Birdman film can be characterized as a story teller that tells stories of what happens in the real world cultures. Most of the happenings in the film represent what happens in real cultures for instance situations where parents neglect their children like Riggan in Birdman. There are common cases of parents who are less concerned about what happens in the lives of their children and this may end up frustrating the children and worse still, weakening their bond with their parents (Wilson and Sean 26). The film preserves gestures, gaits, rhythms, attitudes, and human interactions in a variety of situations. As is common with many films, the gestures, attitudes and interactions used by the characters appear as real. They are used to express real human feelings caused by situations that occur in their day to day life. An example of a situation in the film where feelings are expressed is when Riggan catches Sam using marijuana and scolds her. Sam reacts to the scolding by telling him that he is replaceable and that his play is just an egoistic project.
Birdman film reflects the anxieties, beliefs, and values of the cultures that produced it. It sheds light on how people from many cultures are ignorant and assume that the only thing that they should pursue in life is what is right before them. That is what they view as the greatest thing according to them. They go through a lot of torture in their struggle to pursue what they feel will make their life meaningful as is the case with Riggan in Birdman film. What these people do not understand is that this pursuit just makes their life different. It does not necessarily make it more meaningful.
Birdman film helps to shape and solidify the beliefs of the cultures it brings out. This can be emphasized by the fact that the film influences cultural attitudes and inspires change. Wharton and Jeremy assert that what a person watches in a film influences their life to some extent (15). When a single individual watches Birdman and adopts an attitude, behavior, or belief from it, it may spread to other members from the same culture and this can cause changes to the entire culture. This implies that films can influence the behaviors or beliefs of a culture causing them to change from what they have been believing in before.
Bellour, Raymond, and Constance Penley. The Analysis of Film. Univ. Press, 2000.
Caldwell, Thomas. Film Analysis Handbook: Essential Guide to Understanding, Analyzing and Writing on Film. Insight Publications, 2005.
Wharton, David, and Jeremy Grant. Teaching Analysis of Film Language. BFI Education, 2005.
Wilson, David, and Sean O'Sullivan. Images of Incarceration: Representations of Prison in Film and Television Drama. Waterside Press, 2004.
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