Birdy: Presentation and Feedback

Overall, I feel that our presentation went very well. I feel Dermott, Siobhan, Lauren and I pulled off a very successful and informative presentation.

The feedback we got consisted of:

  • References
  • We need to include more research into film theory
  • Hero’s Journey was a nice touch
  • Think about the film’s historical audience
  • Keep the attention of the aduience
  • More analysis into the subject you’re presenting
  • Look at different perspectoves of the film and the presentation
  • There is no right answer, just explain yours
  • Watch ‘Hearts of Darkness’

Birdy: Finished Artefact and Schematic


Using all of our notes, research and Dermott’s stellar skills we created a schematic.




So the symbolism goes:

-The baseball represents the boys’ youth, but it also represents Al and his inability to let go of normality for his own happiness, and the fear of being percieved as anything but normal.

-The cage respresents society and how Al is trapped by its scoial constructs and how it percieves him, which is why Birdy (the bird) is outside the cage.

-The bandages represent how scared Al is, and shows how in the movie the bandages appearaed to be the only thing keeping him snae. He lost everything that made him normal, his mobility and his looks, and now he’s falling apart.

-The bird represents Birdy, he is free, and not confined by social constructs, he does not care to be perceieved as normal.

-The feathers represent the fragility  shown in the m ovie, the fragility of their mental states and the fragility of their masculinity.

-The broken mirror, represents Al’s vainity.

You can read more on my teams blogs: Lauren, Dermott and Siobhan.

Birdy: Presentation

Today we planned out our presentation an assigned slides to each person.

Due to my research on the Vietnam War, the pyschological problems it caused and their role in Birdy, the authour, my role in writing out the first schematic and my research on symbolism. I had two slides on the schematic, a slide on William Wharton, two slides on the Vietnam War and the pyschological impact on the soldiers and its role in Birdy, and an explanation on some of the symbolism to do with our artefact.

Over the weekend, I shall shorten my research into the key elements and shorten my presentation time to around 1 and a half minutes, in order to keep within the 6 minute time limit.

You can fins the roles that Dermott, Siobhan and Lauren took, on their blogs.

Birdy: Artefact

Today we met up with all our collected items, ready to start making the artefact.

Lauren brought in two wire baskets which we are going to use to make the cage.


Siobhan and I made a bird perch using wire and a broken stick of wood.


Dermott and I then made the bandages look used by mixing arylic paint and water to create a blodd colour and splattered it onto the bandages. We’re leaving them to dry over the weekend.


I also broke a mirror. Seven years bad luck for me (oh no), but it was for art! So I’ll be okay (hopefully).

Lauren is going to make a bird over the weekend and I’m going to paint a baseball whilst Dermott and Siobhan finsih up the schematic, with some extra notes Lauren made.


Birdy: Schematic Icons

Today Dermott showed us the schematic, he had almost completely integrated it into photoshop, however he wanted to use icons fr key parts and thus asked us if we could make icons for the schematic.

My icons are pictured below, for someone who is not adept at digital art I should am proud of what I produced.


Birdy: Artefact Concepts and Artists


In preparation of creating our own artefact I decided to look at a few artists to influence my designs.

Hari and Deepti

Hari and Deepti are Indian light box artists who believe stories have many layers and shades. Great believers in imaginative ways of stroy telling, they use paper as a medium in which to relect this. They beleive “Paper is brutal in its simplicity as a medium. It demands the attention of the artist while it provides the softness they need to mold it in to something beautiful. It is playful, light, colorless and colorful. It is minimal and intricate. It reflects light, creates depth and illusions in a way that it takes the artist through a journey with limitless possibilities.”

They began eperimenting with coloured watercolour paper. However, they found that when they shone a light through the layers, the colours disappeared. Over time their work became more intricate, yet simple. And they have grown into using this style as a medium of story telling.

 “What amazes us about the paper cut light boxes is the dichotomy of the piece in its lit and unlit state, the contrast is so stark that it has this mystical effect on the viewers.”

I feel that this ties in with Birdy very well as the use of shadows in the film is very clear. Lightbox art gives a very ethereal atmosphere to the pieces show above, which I feel could work well in capturing the flashbacks and dream sequences used in the movie.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster

Tim Noble and Sue Webster are contemporary artists who create a variety of interesting works. I am looking at their shadow art. What they do is create scultptures out of rubbish and trash and then shine a light which causes the shadows to create portraits and tell stories. What I love about their art is that it always symbolises soemthing, or their inspiration comes from real life stories.

The artists have always “played with the idea of how humans perceive abstract images and define them with meaning. The result is surprising and powerful as it redefines how abstract forms can transform into figurative ones.”

I was inspired by their work once again because of the use of shadows in Birdy, but also because of how they used lighting in the Stage Play.

Monica Lacey

Monica Lacey is a multi-media artist and I always love how the majority of her works start with a question, which then prompts her to create art around this question.

The particular work I’m looking at concerning this project is ‘The Sky is Always Moving’, which is a dance piece with sculpture and media elements. It started with question ‘when we feel moved to dance, what keeps from actually dancing?’

In particular the body cage:


This really reflects alot of Birdy for me. I beleive that both Al and Birdy are trapped. Both are traped by society’s expectation of them. Al, even more so than Birdy. He wishes to hold the world down and create a perfect life for himself as that’s what he believes he should have and what he believes society wishes him to be like. Where as Birdy is trapped by his human body, he wishes to be a bird and be free, yet he cannot fly.

A quote from Monica Lacey that I really love is:

In my work I focus mainly on drawing out the beauty of that which is broken, overlooked, or discarded – it is important to me to look closely at life, to notice the tiny details.

Our protagonists are broken, however their uniquness is what drives us to want to understand them better, and thus understand each other better.

Dream Catchers

I breifly looked at dream catchers, because I thought that they could tie into our artefact in some way becase of the dream and flashback sequences.


Concept Ideas


Birdy: Artefact Definition, Author, more notes on Birdy and Symbolism

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.


  • 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.




  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.



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.

Birdy: Vietnam and PTSD

Whilst researching our artefact I wished to gain a better understanding of the medical conditions Al and Birdy had, as well as a better understanding of the Vietnam War.


I fond out that approximately 2.5 million American’s served in the Veitnam War from 1956 to 1975. Out of this one third was drafted. 85% of the troops were white with the average age being 21, 20 years younger than the average age of troops in WW2! In Vietnam the average soldier saw 240 days of combat, whilst troops saw only 40 in WW2. 1 in 10 soliders died, a total of 58,214 were killed and nearly 1,700 are still missing. However, even after the war ended the battle wasn’t over for Veterans, as they wre viewed as failures and murders by their fellow Americans.

Physcological Impact

Many soldiers abused substances during the war due to the accessability of drugs and alcohol, this made adjusting to normal life in America, where said substances were illegal, a lot harder. Along with negative public reactions, there was very little physchological help given to Veterans, the only question asked when they were discharged was ‘Do you feel the need to kill again?’. Due to this many cases of PTSD went undiagnosed and it is reported that around 15% to 25% of Veterans suffered from this, causing flashbacks and phantom pain. Their sense of identity and perspective of scoiety had been changed, so it was difficult to find jobs.


PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by stressful or traumatic events. Symptoms include: flashbacks, nightmares, isolation, irritability, guilt, insomnia and difficulty in concentrating. The treatments was mainly psychotherapy with perscription anti-depressants.


As a result of his PTSD Birdy actally developed catatonia, his body is active but his brain is in shambles. Symptoms include: stupor, catalepsy, waxy flexibility, mutism, manerism, stereotypy, agitation, grimacing and catatonic excitement.

I hope that this research can be of use in the making of the artefact.

Birdy: Artefact

This weekend, we are primarily looking at the artefact since Dermott is transferring our Schematic to photoshop.

The definition of an artefact is:

-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 asa result of the preparation or investiagtive procedure.

The definition of a medical artefact is:

-Any artificial product, structure or appearance that is not natural, but due to manipulation.

-Distortion of an image caused by manipulation

These definitions are wat we have to take into consideration this weekend as we proceed to research Birdy and conceptual designs.


Birdy: Schematic

Today we decided to come in before class began and work on the Schematic. We did a basic layout and worked our way through each scene. Unfortunately Lauren and Dermott had other commitments for a short while, so me and Siobhan finished the rest of the schematic.

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Lauren and Siobhan could not stay after class, however Dermott did and began a new layout of the schematic

Dermott’s new layout

With Dermott’s new layout and the finished schematic we agreed to let Dermott transfer the schematic into photoshop as he is the most skilled at photoshop in our group.

We have decided to turn our attention to the artefact now.