In Motion

“Birdman” (2014) dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

One of my favorite directors, Inarritu, has completed his fifth feature film in his departure away from multi-dimensional narratives centered around a tragic accident (think the trilogy 21 Grams, Babel, Amores Perros and maybe even Biutiful….yes, the rest of his films). Now, he is focused on a character study and, more importantly, an ‘unedited’ style of storytelling-an ‘inescapable reality’, according to Inarritu.

This is a change in his storytelling style, moving towards a persistent linear plot. Inarritu mentions in his recent Variety interview that he feels life is experienced in a sort of linear, Steadicam form, and so he uses much of that visual style in Birdman. Just look at the beautiful Steadicam shots in the trailer! I love the sense of the floating, following perspective that the camera creates.

Of course, another new feature in this Inarritu film is its genre: black comedy. With that dream cast, it looks like it might be one of my favorites of the year!

I’m excited to see how Inarritu streamlined the film to appear as a constant un-cut motion. Its not that its technically difficult, just that it will be interesting to see how it ties into the Broadway setting of the film and the back-and-forth transitions between real life and on-stage acting that the main character experiences. The character’s time on the stage in theater becomes inseparable form his personal life. Birdman is more than fiction, it appears. It really is an ‘inescapable reality’, as Inarritu wishes to convey.

I always like to see the visual style, and even the sound, reflect on the character study.

It comes out October 17th!

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A little tangent on the use of steadicam…

Two great, and different, uses of it come to mind. The first is the classic long take with no-cuts that leads your gaze as it follows the action in a scene.

Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, along with director Cary Fukunaga, use this method in a memorable scene from a True Detective episode. This technique has been used in many classic films since the 70’s (Goodfellas, The Shining, Rocky) but I decided to use this newer example (starts around 02:00):

True Detective S1 E4 Final Shot from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

And then there’s the Terrence Malick way of using many cuts at different angles or rotations of the Steadicam to create a collage of a scene and/or encourage the sense of constant motion and wandering: