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BIRDY

USA, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Alan Parker

Birdy is a unique portrait of an unusual friendship, adapted from William Wharton's freewheeling and surreal novel which was lauded both for its strong anti-war statement and its male bonding drama between Birdy and his friend Al. Birdy, whose most frequent desire in life is to defy gravity and fly, is a shy, retiring dreamer residing in a Veterans' Hospital -a war casualty, unwilling to communicate and adopting bird-like postures. Al, scarred with major facial wounds, is summoned to the hospital by an Army psychiatrist to see if he can help his seemingly catatonic friend. Flashbacks reveal the boys' backgrounds and the development of their interdependent friendship in the working class suburbs of Philadelphia. The novel's Second World War background has been updated to the Vietnam conflict of the 1960's.

”Director Alan Parker has achieved his personal best. He has turned an ordinarily bleak Philadelphia location into something akin to the Prince of Darkness' castle. He has made his principal character, who might have been just another teen angel, into a complex figure, comical and a little dangerous. He has finally transcended realism by traducing it. His movie does what Birdy himself cannot quite manage. It defies gravity, convention and category and gets away with it.

Richard Schickel, Time

Birdy attempts the almost impossible: to change an almost surreal novel's interior monologues and descriptions into vibrant screen action. And, through an inventive adaptation, and the passion and precision of Modine's and Cage's beautifully sustained performances, it may well have succeeded.”

Sheila Benson, New York Times

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