Great Scenes: Birdman | Script Gods

 
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Great Scenes: Birdman
January 30th, 2017 by paul peditto

movies_grella_11-05-14_--_birdman

Want to write great screenplays? Read them. That logic is too facile– like saying everyone who pays for classes at Second City will end up on Saturday Night Live, or win an Oscar like Adam McKay. The walls of Second City are filled with famous faces, but for every one of them who “made it”, there are thousands who did not. Same with reading screenplays. I won’t guarantee that you’ll end up signing with William Morris Endeavor if you do so, but you’ll improve. That I’d bet on. And if you’re reading screenplays, why not read an Oscar winner? Full Birdman script is here.

I usually spread the wealth on these greatest scenes posts but there are a dozen scenes from Birdman which are worthy of a script/clip look. Let’s study how this movie looks on the page…

*p.s.: Sorry for the script scrunching, nothing to be done about it.

  • RELEVANT

Emma Stone and Michael Keaton go off on what it means to be relevant in the era of Facebook:

RIGGAN
Listen to me. I’m trying to do something
that’s important…
SAM
This is not important.
RIGGAN
It’s important to me! Alright? Maybe not to
you, or your cynical playmates whose sole
ambition is to end up going viral and who,
by the way, will only be remembered as the
generation that finally stopped talking to
one another. But to me… To me… This is–
God. This is my career, this is my chance to do
some work that actually means something.
SAM
Means something to who?
You had a career before the third comic book movie,
before people began to forget who was inside the bird
costume. You’re doing a play based on a book that was
written 60 years ago, for a thousand rich, old white people
whose only real concern is gonna be where they go to have
their cake and coffee when it’s over. Nobody gives a shit but you.
And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because
you just want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole
world out there where people fight to be relevant every day.
And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening
in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already
forgotten you. I mean who are you? You hate bloggers. You
make fun of twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page.
You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re
scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter.
And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important.
You’re not important. Get used to it.
Silence. Riggan seems devastated, and Sam can see that.

  • THE ACTOR AND THE REVIEWER

Here, Michael Keaton goes off on THE Broadway reviewer, who one can close his show with a single bad review, and who is about to do so. The film clip has several changes all of which I think are for the better. Check it out…

TABITHA
I’m going to destroy your play.
RIGGAN
You haven’t even seen it. I don’t– Did I
do something to offend you?
TABITHA
As a matter of fact you did. You took up
space in a theater which otherwise might
have been used on something worthwhile.
RIGGAN
But you don’t even know if it’s–
TABITHA
That’s true. I haven’t read a word of it,
or even seen a preview, but after the
opening tomorrow I’m going to turn in the
worst review anybody has ever read. And I’m
going to close your play. Would you like to
know why? Because I hate you. And everyone
you represent. Entitled. Spoiled. Selfish.
Children. Blissfully untrained, unversed
and unprepared to even attempt real art.
Handing each other awards for cartoons and
pornography. Measuring your worth in
weekends Well, this is the theater, and
you don’t get to come in here and pretend
you can write, direct and act in your own
propaganda piece without going through me
first. So, break a leg.
Tabitha goes back to her writing. Riggan sits for a moment.
RIGGAN
What has to happen in someone’s life,
for them to end up becoming a critic?
She looks up at him.
RIGGAN (CONT’D)
Whatcha writin’? You reviewin’ a play? Was
it good? Bad? Did you even see it? Lemme
read.
He snatches the notebook from her.
TABITHA
I will call the police.
RIGGAN
No you won’t. Let’s read your review!
(He scans the notebook.)
“Callow”. A label. “Lackluster”. Label.
“Marginalia”. Sounds like you need
penicillin to clear that up. None the
less… label.
(Looks to Tabitha.)
All labels. You’re a lazy fucker
aren’t you?
(Looks one last time at
the notebook.)
Epistemological vertigo?
Tabitha wants to reach for the notebook, but her pride won’t
let her. Riggan takes a flower from a vase at the center of the
table.
RIGGAN (CONT’D)
You know what this is? You don’t, do
you? You can’t even see it if you don’t
label it. You mistake those sounds in
your head for true knowledge.
TABITHA
Are you finished?
RIGGAN
(Wrinkling one of the pages.)
Nothin’ about intention, structure,
technique. Just crappy opinions backed
up by crappy comparisons. You’re
incapable of writing more than a couple
of paragraphs, and you risk nothing of
yourself.
(He tears out the page and tosses
the notebook.)
Well, I’m an actor and this play has
cost me everything. So you can take
your cowardly, malicious, shittily
written reviews and shove them up
your… (Showing her the wrinkled
page.) …wrinkly, tight ass.

  • FLIGHT

Beautiful, poetic sequence. In and out of Riggan’s head as we do for the whole movie. The lady turns out to be just a voice and we don’t see the crowd below, the action with the cabbie changes. A few lines cut, not needed. Others shifted. Working POV for your own movie? Here’s the model to look at…compare the two versions…

And as the camera pulls away, we discover Birdman is gone and

Riggan is standing on the ledge of a tall building. The camera
tilts down and we see that more people have gathered around,
and more cars has stopped, and they all point at Riggan,
worried about the situation.
A guy wearing shorts, a Bob Marley t-shirt and a robe opens his
window, one floor below Riggan, and looks up at him.
GUY
Dude, what are you doing?
Riggan looks down at the people on the street far below.
GUY (CONT’D)
You okay, buddy? Do you want me to call someone?
We pan to a lady on her balcony filming Riggan with her phone.
LADY
Is this for real, or you’re shooting a film?
RIGGAN
A film.
The lady looks around but sees nothing.
LADY
Oh, you people are full of shit.
She goes into her apartment.
GUY
I’m calling 911.
The guy goes inside his apartment.
RIGGAN
One more time…
Now, from the door of the rooftop, a good neighbor calmly
approaches Riggan.
GOOD NEIGHBOR
Hi, sir. Can I help you? You should be careful.
RIGGAN
Sorry. Can’t talk. I’m late.
(Murmuring.)
Music.
Some underscoring music begins to sound. The neighbor is now
close to him and helps Riggan step down from the edge on to the
floor of the rooftop.
GOOD NEIGHBOR
Are you alright? Do you want me to
call someone? Do you know where to go?
Riggan closes his eyes for a moment as the camera moves slowly
toward him. He opens his eyes. The music begins to swell. Riggan
stands up straight and proud, and in a voice that sounds like
Birdman…
RIGGAN
Yes. I know where to go.
He turns and begins to run on the rooftop. The music is rousing.
As he runs, he holds out his arms, spreading them wide. The
camera runs behind him, until suddenly…
Riggan jumps, and the camera jumps after him. He rapidly
falls toward the street, toward the asphalt. But in his face
there is no fear. No. He spreads his arms again and…
He takes flight, soaring high over Manhattan. The music becomes
epic. There is something beautiful about this broken man flying
like a superhero. We fly next to him, and we can see below the
spectacular sight that is Manhattan, until…
EXT. THEATER – CONTINUOUS
…he finally lands on 45th street and calmly approaches the
theater. An Usher acknowledges him with a look of surprise.


Leave a Reply

»  Wordpress Customization and Development: Local Galaxy Web Development  
»  Substance: Chicago Script Consultant, Script Gods Must Die   »  Paul Peditto, Author
 


© All Content Property Script Gods Must Die © 2013