There are two types of artefacts:

Regular (More common):

  • An object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest
  • Something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure.

Medical:

  • Any artificial product, a structure or appearance that is not natural, but is due to manipulation.
  • Distortion or fuzziness of an image created by manipulation.

 

More notes on Birdy

Whilst re-watching Birdy I took several notes and jotted down a few ideas compiled from a mix of research and my own conclusions.

Al is an extrovert. He is good looking with a certain charisma and charm which he uses to seduce girls left, right and centre. However, he is full of false bravado, as seen when he is punished by his father and refuses to help Birdy get their car back. Underneath he is still young, frightened and bewildered by the world which awaits him.

Birdy is an introvert by design, preferring the company of birds to humans, even going as far as to appear to fall in love with his canary ‘Perta’. Unlike Al, he is not conventionally good looking, lanky and weak looking he does not capture the attention of many girls bar Doris, who’s advances he rejects due to his lack of interest in human intercourse, and humans in general.

Al is different to Birdy but encourages all his crazy ideas. I believe that deep down Al sees Birdy as an escape from the pressures of society to be perfect, it frees him of his cage and allows him to taste freedom.

In the end, Al is stripped of his mobility and good looks. This forces him to return to Birdy, the only source of comfort he has known. He faces no judgement from Birdy, and whilst neither are normal, they are two sides of the same coin and need each other to stay sane and alive. Al is desperate for Birdy to return so that Al may gain some semblance of his old life back.

 

Symbolism

Feathers:

  • I believe that the feathers represent a few aspects of Birdy. They reflect Birdy’s fragile mental state, especially near the end when Birdy is finding it harder to distinguish reality from dreams.
  • It reflects Al’s insecurities and how easily disgruntled he becomes when his masculinity is questioned. He knows his bravado and macho behaviour is merely a mask to hide his insecurities. His fear of his dad, his fear of the future and his fear of the unknown.
  • In turn they also emphasis how feminine Birdy is. His wish to be elegant, gliding through the skies like a dancer. However, unlike Al he is not concerned about the opinions of others and embraces this side of himself.

Cages:

  • I believe the cage and all the time Birdy spends in it foreshadows his admittance to the asylum.
  • But I also believe that the cage represents freedom for Birdy, its the only place where he can truly be himself, and truly give himself over to the birds. In contrast, for Al they represent society and how he feels trapped by the need to be normal, to fit in, to be the perfect male.
  • In the ending scenes as he’s holding Birdy he finally understands why Birdy likes ages so much, because they’re the only place he can be himself, hidden from society’s gaze.
  • However, this is once again flipped on its head after Birdy snaps out of his comatose state. Together they break out of the Asylum (cage) and escape into the free world.

Bandages:

  • These are specific to Al.
  • I believe that the bandages are holding him together,  physically and mentally. He is so reluctant to remove them as he knows life will never be the same once he does. He knows that the only sense of normality he has left will be shattered.

Baseballs

  • This was Lauren’s idea so hopefully there is more about this on her blog, but she suggested that the baseballs symbolise youth and the memory of easier times.

Mirrors

  • These undoubtedly reflect Al’s vanity. He is constantly looking in them or looking at his reflection when one is present. He prided himself on his looks, now that they’re gone he believes he has nothing.

Perta

  • Specific to Birdy, Perta represents everything he wishes to be. Elegant, graceful, free and beautiful. She can fly, whist he is trapped.

 

Extra Notes

Whilst typing the above notes I had several revaluations.

One was the fact that Al often goes out of his way to make jokes about his condition. No matter how bad the scenario he uses humour to try and levitate the situation. It is a coping method which he has had since he was young as it reoccurs in both flashbacks and present day.

I also believe that their are homosexual undertones to the movie and book. In the movie Al mentions ‘jerking each other off’ and other homosexual references and phrases to describe how Weiss views them. He almost tries to make it seem like a bad thing, as back then being of the LGBTQ+ community was often viewed as being worse than insane. However, he never really manages to make them sound malicious. On top of this, the way he treats Birdy is similar to that of a lover, the gentle caresses, long hugs and elevated concern. In the book, Perta is actually named Birdy after Birdy himself, however her mate is still named Al after Al.

 

Stage Play

I briefly looked at the stage play, however it wasn’t very useful, more of a showcase of aerial artistry and dance. But the way they used light was interesting:

  • Singular bright white light in Asyulm.
  • Window looks like a cage.
  • Dream sequences featured more ethereal lighting.
  • The office scenes were lit like an interrogation scene.
  • Shadows were used in the dream sequence.
  • Yellow lighting used for the war scenes.

 

Author

I also looked at the author, William Wharton:

  • William Wharton drew on his own wartime experiences  to write Birdy
  • ‘Not thinking of myself as a writer gives me the freedom to be one’.
  • Al (1999) is a sequel to Birdy
  • Wharton himself kept 250 canaries when he was 17
  • He himself kept his canaries in a similar style to Birdy

 

You can find more research and analysis on my teams blogs; Dermott, Lauren and Siobhan.

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