There exist a fucking egoistic bitchy beast inside every head blabbering us to pretend and lead a life as someone who we are not. Like the straggly rolling of a drum it shakes and quivers its feather and spead its giant wings over the reality of true self. As the reality fades away a stingy, nasty and effing fortress of ignorance would emerge, tower over and overlook the existential reality. Leisurely, shall dawn the truth as light, over the gnawing gloom. But when the ruination preceed the truth. And when curses are nothing but blessings in profound disguise – a miracle would then be the outcome of an apocalypse – A new beginning. The unexpected virtue of Ignorance.
For actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) it was the Birdman – the beast inside his head, a super hero he enacted once. Now, at his old age, after being chewed out by Hollywood, after the irreplaceable role had wrapped up over twenty years ago, he is desperately trying to regain his lost glory with a broadway debut (What we talk about when we talk about Love), as both Director and an Actor based on a book. The growling voice inside his head kept reminding him of self-importance, and had constantly, pedanticaly analysed his own plight, “How did we end up here? This place is horrible. Smells like balls. We don’t belong in this shithole.” – resulted in somewhat chronic self-dissatifaction. It was even visible in the dialouge of his character in his play.
” What’s the matter with me?,
Why do I always have to beg people to love me?
I just wanted to be what you wanted.
Now I spend every fucking minute praying to be somebody else
-somebody I’m not – anybody.”
The World is one big stage, we all are performing a role – in a play written by someone else. The stage we present ourselves were once blessed by great people – performers, who had performed their roles in utmost perfection and completeness. There exist only few like Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), who become real and spontaneous on stage, like living his role – breathing as the role. The rest wears a mask, or forced to, of some character whom they never can be. Riggan Thomson wants to live in his past, the time when people looked up him with reverie. He couldn’t even accept the swept of time, thus living as someone who is not him, in the shades of a self-obsessed beast.
It was Sam (Emma Stone), Riggan’s daughter, who told him about the ‘Fragilty of lives’. After discharged from a rehab, it seems she was not after fame and glory, unlike her father. Even though leading a distressed life as her father’s assistant in the theatre, she knew her father very well who is over obsessed to become someone he can never be. After a video of her father, running on a busy street in his white undies, became viral all over the internet, she in her composed demeanour had consoled her father, which was an uncanny sight from a all-time-distressed-disshevelled-haired-girl like her.
Unlike Riggan and Mike, Lesley (Naomi Watts) have infinitely more passion for what she is doing – ambitious and self driven. That moment when tears escaped her eyes, after humilitated by Mike on stage, while thinking about her expectation-reality perpetuation there sprouted an immaculate love for her, in me. Meanwhile, Laura’s (Andrea Riseborough) black witty character was like a barque afloating in the brew of emotions. It bobs up and down in the emotional ripples created by people around. Riggan and Jake (Zach Galifianakis) were the voyagers, it seems Lesley barely made in it.
Birdman marked his palpable presence through out, even though his visible figure was confined only to two scenes. The deep growling voice inside Riggan’s head was so tantalizing and persuasive to both Riggan as well as viewers for establishing the Birdman’s presence, the reason being nobody is free from one’s own mental voice. “Shave off that pathetic goatee. Get some surgery. Sixty’s the new thirty, motherfucker!” The drum rolling in the background throughout the movie distincly created a mental image of Birdman frustling the feathers and spreading his wings, as we look at Riggan’s world through his eyes.
By telling Riggan the fragility of lives Sam conveyed the a message about mankind’s existence, making it one iconic scene in the movie. It has to infer that sam had evolved into a thinker after the rehab. When her father came to room after frantically running on streets in his white undies, she showed him a paperroll marked with dashes representing the years that had passed after the birth of universe. By Sam’s inference, mankind’s age of his self-obsessed and egoistic behaviour could be confined to a tiny strip of paper – which is trivial in comparison to a paperroll full of dashes. And when a fervous Riggan wiped his make up with that piece of paper, Sam’s witty and spontaneous reply was, “Dad, you just wiped out the entire human race!”. The fragility of Mankind. If a man’s ego could make him fall, then it could invite tragedy to befall upon the collective human race.
When Riggan decided to silence his bitchy beast inside his head with a ‘bang’; when the imminent fall had happened, it was shown to us glimpses of a fire ball in sky – the impending doom, specks of dust – what we really are, superheros fighting and dancing to the drum beatings – helpless human creations, extinction of some species – next could be us, and finally light towering over Ignorance – the dawn of a new era. When the ego, self obsession and vanity had reached at its pinnacle, it result in the decadence of humanity. Literally, extinction awaits us, nothing we created could help us. There would rise, something anew, at the wake of every decadence, if the ignorance was blessing in profound disguise – The unexpected virtue of Ignorance.
“I don’t exist.
I am noteven here
Nothing this even matters
I don’t exist.”
The movie ends in an ambiguity about the Riggan’s death. It is clear from Sam’s smile that nothing nasty had happened, but makes more contradictory to that of the metafiction elements (to viewers) happened through the movie was just Riggan’s egoistic imaginations.
When analysing the events before Sam entering the room, it is evident that the Riggan had experienced the presence of Birdman, this time feeling depressed and seems lost his charm. It is because of the fact that Riggan had his face disfigured permenantly and chances are less for people to recognise him as the man behind the mask and feathers – freed from Birdman. So, he bade farewell to his bitchy voice inside head. “Bye-bye. And fuck you” Notably, the drum rolls, which had symbolically represented the frustling of feathers and fluttering of wings was silenced for a minute. And when he saw some real birds flying up high in the sky he opened the window and find his way out.
When sam enters the room, noticing her father’s missing, came to the windows in haste, and looking down to streets worried, and feeling relieved. Drum starts to play and rolls again in background, quite straggly, like the light fluttering of wings. But this time, we could only hope that it wasn’t made of feathers, but of freedom and liberation, from his own egoistic beast.