Birdman Ending Scene: Film Analysis
After watching Birdman, the scene that was most powerful and significant, for me, was the ending of both the film and Riggan’s play within the film. It is hard to say exactly when this scene starts because of the fact that the whole movie is shot in the illusion of being one continuous take. Let’s say it starts right when Riggan’s ex-wife leaves his dressing room and Riggan begins to get ready for the final scene. He puts on his wig, starts doing vocal warm ups, and to the viewers surprise grabs a real gun, which is made clear when he checks the bullets. As Riggan does this he is surprisingly calm. All while he is preparing, the camera is floating around him tracking his movements. Throughout the film the camera feels like this omniscient being that floats around and takes the viewer on a journey showing us everything of purpose. After Riggan has cocked the gun he raises his arm to point to the door. The camera turns to where he is pointing and starts to move separately from Riggan. The moment the camera separates from Riggan drums start to play and Riggan’s vocal warm ups fade out. As the camera begins to move out the door and through the hallway it becomes clear that it has assumed a first-person viewpoint of Riggan when a man appears and says, “Break a leg Mr. Thompson” into the camera. The hallway we are moving through is narrow and dark and along with the drums it adds a sense of anxiety of what is about to happen. As the hallway comes to a turn the camera changes roles again and turns the opposite way to see a man playing the drums. Seeing this drummer distorts our sense of reality because it brings this film score to life. The camera is now moving backwards with the focus on the drummer, Riggan then walks in front of the camera. It is as if the drummer is playing Riggan off. As Riggan walks away from the drummer the lights change to blue which signal a change in environment and the approaching final scene of Riggan’s play. There are also ambient noises that guide us through this transition. It starts with a cough then a make up artist who is talking to Riggan but the camera stays on Riggan’s face and only moves his position within the frame slightly to show his surroundings. Riggan then walks up to his entrance and thunder is a queue that he is about to enter. He is silhouetted by a red light and is calm before the storm. He enters the stage. When he is going through his part the camera is slowly spinning around him. As it spins it shows the two other actors and also the audience. Everything is revolving around Riggan. After he finishes his part he walks into the spotlight revealing his true self to the audience. He raises the gun and shoots himself. He falls out of the frame. The camera is now looking at the audience. The audience stands and gives a standing ovation. However, one person doesn’t stand, the critic. Before long she stands up and leaves as everyone is clapping. The camera then looks up and towards the light; we then see the first intentional cut in the whole film. It cuts to shots of a drum line, jellyfish, and comet moving through the sky. These are the moments before his death. Within this scene Riggan finds that he is in control of his own happiness. He doesn’t care about the critic, and his life ends with the standing ovation of the audience. He has finally reached happiness.