Birdy


2h 36m 1984

Brief Synopsis

A wounded Vietnam veteran tries to help a shell-shocked friend who believes he's a bird.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
War
Release Date
1984
Production Company
Marty Mcgee
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 36m

Synopsis

A soldier returns from Vietnam to find his boyhood friend, also a fellow soldier, in a military hospital, having suffered a mental breakdown in which he has become detached from reality and imagines that he is a bird.

Crew

Rodney Armanino

Construction

James M Arnett

Stunt Coordinator

Ed Arter

Transportation Coordinator

Christine Baer

Production Assistant

Brett Barclay

Craft Service

Clive Barrett

Assistant Sound Editor

Maurice Beesley

Best Boy

Jack Behr

Screenplay

Steph Benseman

Location Coordinator

Danny Benson

Boom Operator

Don Biller

Assistant Camera Operator

Peter Bloor

Electrician

Thomas Boguski

Production Assistant

Robert Bovill

Production Designer

Mike Brum

Transportation Captain

Mark Burchard

Costumer

David L Butler

Camera Operator

John Caglione Jr.

Makeup

Stu Campbell

Art Director

Daniel Candib

Assistant Sound Editor

Richard Candib

Assistant Sound Editor

Ted Churchill

Steadicam Operator

Paul Cimino

Transportation Captain

Janice Clark

Auditor

Lisa Clarkson Milillo

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Richard Clot

Foreman

Joe Coffey

Camera Operator

Kathryn Colbert

Production Assistant

Harold Cole

Grip

Josie Cornell

Medic

Robert Corso

Grip

Jan D'alquen

Camera Operator

Tom Davies

Assistant Director

Michael De May

Production Assistant

Roger Dietz

Art Department

Alan Disler

Assistant Camera Operator

Brad Edmiston

Steadicam Operator

Rory Enke

Location Manager

Judy Feil

Assistant Costume Designer

Peter Gabriel

Music

Margery Z Gabrielson

Painter

Armin Ganz

Art Director

Gary Gero

Animal Trainer

Nancy Giebink

Unit Production Manager

Gary Gill

Key Grip

Monica Goldstein

Assistant

John Gorham

Graphics

Peter Govey

Titles

Leonard Green

Assistant Sound Editor

David Grimsdale

Foley Editor

Dick Gros

Auditor

Jon Guterres

Grip

Gerry Hambling

Editor

Charlie Hammerschmitt

Steadicam Operator

Bob Harman

Visual Effects

Douglas C Hart

Steadicam Operator

Dale Haugo

Painter

Kerry Hayes

Photography

Robert Hillman

Camera Operator

Alec Hirschfeld

Camera Operator

Marc Hirschfeld

Assistant Camera Operator

Doug Hunt

Assistant Camera Operator

Richard Hymns

Assistant Sound Editor

Mark Jackson

Animal Trainer

Stephen Janisz

Assistant Sound Editor

Gwen Johnson

Animal Trainer

Ken Johnson

Other

Eddy Joseph

Sound Editor

Barbara Kelly

Makeup

John A. Kelly

Painter

Adam Kimmel

Steadicam Operator

Geoffrey Kirkland

Production Designer

Ned Kopp

Associate Producer

George Krafft

Coordinator

Sandy Kroopf

Screenplay

David Lamb

Unit Manager

Paul Le Blanc

Hairdresser

Paul Leblanc

Hairdresser

Ellen Lewis

Casting Assistant

Donna Lindemann

Production Secretary

Mark Ludwig

Assistant Camera Operator

David Macmillan

Sound Recordist

Molly Maginnis

Assistant Costume Designer

David Manson

Executive Producer

Alan Marshall

Producer

Larry Mcconkey

Steadicam Operator

Marty Mcgee

Cable Operator

Andrew Mendez

Other

Ray Merrin

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Donna Morrison

Steadicam Operator

Terry Morrison

Steadicam Operator

Maureen Murphy

Production Secretary

George R. Nelson

Set Decorator

Ralph Nelson

Photography

Larry Payne

Animal Trainer

Peter Pennell

Sound Effects Editor

Ron Phipps

Finance Manager

Scott Rathner

Assistant Camera Operator

Michael Roberts

Camera Operator

Mic Rodgers

Stunt Player

Reid Rondell

Stunt Player

Tracy Rosenthal

Production Assistant

Bill Rowe

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Gilly Ruben

Assistant

Michael Runyard

Stunt Player

Michael Seresin

Director Of Photography

Michael Seresin

Dp/Cinematographer

Shelly Sherwin

Office Assistant

Tom Sindicich

Construction Coordinator

Chris Soldo

Assistant Director

Michelle Souza

Props Assistant

Mary Still

Costumer

Jeremy Strachan

Assistant Sound Editor

Frank Strzalkowski

Best Boy

Juliet Taylor

Casting

Alice Tompkins

Script Supervisor

Anthony Tortorice

Props Assistant

Michael Waxman

Location Coordinator

Cliff Wenger

Special Effects

William Wharton

Source Material (From Novel)

Jim Wise

Electrician

Aaron Zajac

Props Assistant

Kristi Zea

Costume Designer

George Zimninsky

Property Master

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
War
Release Date
1984
Production Company
Marty Mcgee
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 36m

Articles

Birdy


It's rather apt that when Birdy (1984) was released, critics described it as "enchanting" and "very strange and beautiful." This unique story of a young man who comes to believe he is a bird and the war-wounded friend who dedicates himself to bringing him back to sanity was based on a book by a man whose own life experiences and vivid vision were strangely beautiful in their own way.

William Wharton was already a successful impressionist painter (under his birth name Albert du Aime) when he published his first novel, Birdy, in 1979 at the age of 53. The book drew on his own experiences: he was badly wounded in World War II, and he kept canaries all his life (he started with 250 when he was 17). The book became a best seller, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and won a National Book Award. Wharton continued to paint ("not thinking of myself as a writer gives me the freedom to be one," he told the Times of London) while also continuing to draw on his rich memories and dreams for subsequent novels.

Under the direction of London-born Alan Parker, the film version drew as many accolades as the book, earning Parker the Jury Grand Prize and a nomination for the Golden Palm at Cannes as well as the audience award at the Warsaw International Film Festival. (Wharton's books have always been particularly popular in Poland for some reason.) As the troubled Birdy and his friend Al, respectively, Matthew Modine and Nicholas Cage had important roles early in their careers that put them at the forefront of young actors in the 1980s.

Some aspects of Wharton's novel didn't make it intact into Birdy. For instance, his voluminous discussions of canary life have been compared to Melville's treatises on whales in Moby Dick –– fascinating in print, but certainly not the stuff of riveting filmmaking. Parker, to his credit, does find some effective visual correlatives, filling the film with animals and studying them in motion, including amazing footage of tiny canaries being hatched, without giving them speaking lines as Wharton does in the book, within Birdy's fantasy.

Some reviewers noted it was unnecessary to update the story from its original World War II setting to the Vietnam era, but the change doesn't do much to alter the story; this isn't really a movie about war and its aftermath as much as it's the "unspeakable, unrecognizable terrors of coming of age," according to New York Times film critic Vincent Canby.

The evocative cinematography was done by Michael Seresin, who worked with Parker before on Bugsy Malone (1976), Midnight Express (1978), Fame (1980), and Shoot the Moon (1982). They have worked together four more times since. Seresin is also known for his work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).

Much of Birdy was shot on location at various sites in Philadelphia, as well as the state hospital in Santa Clara, California. The movie cost $12 million to produce, and although not a box office hit on its release, it has become something of a cult favorite.

The soundtrack is by acclaimed musician-composer Peter Gabriel, who was then at the height of his career. According to some sources, Gabriel composed and recorded the score in a single weekend, basing much of it on songs from his third and fourth solo albums.

Two other William Wharton novels were adapted into films: Dad (1989), starring Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson, and A Midnight Clear (1992), a World War II drama with Peter Berg, Ethan Hawke, Kevin Dillon, and Gary Sinise. Wharton died in 2008 at the age of 82.

Director: Alan Parker
Producers: David Manson, Alan Marshall
Screenplay: Sandy Kroopf, Jack Behr, based on the novel by William Wharton
Cinematography: Michael Seresin
Editing: Gerry Hambling
Art Direction: W. Stewart Campbell, Armin Ganz
Original Music: Peter Gabriel
Cast: Matthew Modine (Birdy), Nicholas Cage (Al), John Harkins (Major Weiss), Sandy Baron (Mr. Columbato), Karen Young (Hannah Rourke), Bruno Kirby (Renaldi).
C-120m. Closed Captioning. Descriptive Video.

by Rob Nixon
Birdy

Birdy

It's rather apt that when Birdy (1984) was released, critics described it as "enchanting" and "very strange and beautiful." This unique story of a young man who comes to believe he is a bird and the war-wounded friend who dedicates himself to bringing him back to sanity was based on a book by a man whose own life experiences and vivid vision were strangely beautiful in their own way. William Wharton was already a successful impressionist painter (under his birth name Albert du Aime) when he published his first novel, Birdy, in 1979 at the age of 53. The book drew on his own experiences: he was badly wounded in World War II, and he kept canaries all his life (he started with 250 when he was 17). The book became a best seller, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and won a National Book Award. Wharton continued to paint ("not thinking of myself as a writer gives me the freedom to be one," he told the Times of London) while also continuing to draw on his rich memories and dreams for subsequent novels. Under the direction of London-born Alan Parker, the film version drew as many accolades as the book, earning Parker the Jury Grand Prize and a nomination for the Golden Palm at Cannes as well as the audience award at the Warsaw International Film Festival. (Wharton's books have always been particularly popular in Poland for some reason.) As the troubled Birdy and his friend Al, respectively, Matthew Modine and Nicholas Cage had important roles early in their careers that put them at the forefront of young actors in the 1980s. Some aspects of Wharton's novel didn't make it intact into Birdy. For instance, his voluminous discussions of canary life have been compared to Melville's treatises on whales in Moby Dick –– fascinating in print, but certainly not the stuff of riveting filmmaking. Parker, to his credit, does find some effective visual correlatives, filling the film with animals and studying them in motion, including amazing footage of tiny canaries being hatched, without giving them speaking lines as Wharton does in the book, within Birdy's fantasy. Some reviewers noted it was unnecessary to update the story from its original World War II setting to the Vietnam era, but the change doesn't do much to alter the story; this isn't really a movie about war and its aftermath as much as it's the "unspeakable, unrecognizable terrors of coming of age," according to New York Times film critic Vincent Canby. The evocative cinematography was done by Michael Seresin, who worked with Parker before on Bugsy Malone (1976), Midnight Express (1978), Fame (1980), and Shoot the Moon (1982). They have worked together four more times since. Seresin is also known for his work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Much of Birdy was shot on location at various sites in Philadelphia, as well as the state hospital in Santa Clara, California. The movie cost $12 million to produce, and although not a box office hit on its release, it has become something of a cult favorite. The soundtrack is by acclaimed musician-composer Peter Gabriel, who was then at the height of his career. According to some sources, Gabriel composed and recorded the score in a single weekend, basing much of it on songs from his third and fourth solo albums. Two other William Wharton novels were adapted into films: Dad (1989), starring Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson, and A Midnight Clear (1992), a World War II drama with Peter Berg, Ethan Hawke, Kevin Dillon, and Gary Sinise. Wharton died in 2008 at the age of 82. Director: Alan Parker Producers: David Manson, Alan Marshall Screenplay: Sandy Kroopf, Jack Behr, based on the novel by William Wharton Cinematography: Michael Seresin Editing: Gerry Hambling Art Direction: W. Stewart Campbell, Armin Ganz Original Music: Peter Gabriel Cast: Matthew Modine (Birdy), Nicholas Cage (Al), John Harkins (Major Weiss), Sandy Baron (Mr. Columbato), Karen Young (Hannah Rourke), Bruno Kirby (Renaldi). C-120m. Closed Captioning. Descriptive Video. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.

Released in United States 1985

Released in United States 1998

Released in United States December 1984

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1984

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 23 - May 7, 1998.

Shown at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.

Began shooting May 15, 1984

Released in United States 1985 (Shown at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.)

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival April 23 - May 7, 1998.)

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1984

Released in United States December 1984

Completed shooting in November 1984.