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Film / Birdy

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Birdy is a 1984 American drama film directed by Alan Parker and starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine, based on the novel of the same name by William Wharton. The film's score was composed by Peter Gabriel. Set in 1960s Philadelphia, the film focuses on the friendship between two teenage boys, Al Columbato (Cage) and Birdy (Modine). The story is presented in flashbacks, with a frame narrative depicting the boys' traumatic experiences in Vietnam.

Not to be confused with the British singer of the same name.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Delusions of Doghood: The title character believes he's a bird after nearly being killed fighting in Vietnam.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Birdy's real name is never revealed at any point in the film.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The score was written, co-produced, and composed by Peter Gabriel. Much of it is rendered on a Fairlight CMI synthesizer/workstation, and parts of it are adapted from material from the artist's third and fourth albums.
  • Setting Update: The original novel took place in the 1940s and as such had the boys fighting in World War II rather than in Vietnam.
  • Shock-and-Switch Ending: At the end of the film, Birdy and Al escape to the hospital roof, but Birdy breaks free of his friend, runs to the roof edge, raises his arms, and jumps off. Al is in shock, expecting that Birdy has leaped to his death, and runs over — but discovers that his friend simply jumped the short distance over to the neighboring building's roof. Birdy calmly looks back at Al in puzzlement and says, "What?" as the movie ends.