The video essay above called “Blackbird” is from Miguel Branco, who juxtaposes scenes from Birdman and Black Swan to explore “two artists, two opening nights, two rival figures and one center stage.”
His work is more expressionist than academic, but he’s tapped into a deep vein of similarity between the two art house, Oscar-winning stories of perfectionism and its price. The trappings of the theater and petty competition collide with birds and people taking flight in both Darren Aronofsky and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s movies.
Of course, that’s partially because the surface level elements are the same, but they lead under the skin into the blood streams of both main characters: Riggan and Nina. It’s a quirk that they both deal with avian imagery, but the biggest similarities comes from the approval-seeking supremacy worship of the two divas. One is on the rise – setting out to prove that the shifting sands of fame should be more concrete for her. The other is on the edge of irrelevancy – setting out to prove that he always had something more substantial inside him than the vox populi gave him credit for. Both are desperate, and both face the question of whether they are game to make the ultimate sacrifice to achieve something beyond mortality. Or, at least, what they determine to be an attainable immortality.
There’s also jealousy and suspicion, mental breakdowns in the big city and the joyful transcendence of art. They also both have happy endings, right?