hidden edits in Birdman

With Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), co-writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) took a break from torturing characters to, well, torture some more characters. Birdman has a sense of humor, though, something we hadn’t seen much of from Iñárritu in his past work. The film went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a divisive win amongst movie fans. It is a popular opinion that the long-takes are dazzling, though, and if you want to see some of the hidden edits in Birdman, check them out after the jump.

During the press tour for the film, Iñárritu didn’t want to disclose how long some of the takes are. Predictions and calculations varied throughout its theatrical run, but it made sense why the director didn’t want to reveal too much about the trick. Plus, there’s more to the movie than its long takes, which some viewers, admittedly, found gimmicky. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravityexplained around the release how they brought an invaluable energy to the film, and how him and Iñárritu used the camera and space to tell Riggan Thomson’s (Michael Keaton) story:

Birdman was unknown territory. It’s exciting and it gives you energy all day because you have to be incredibly concentrated. And it’s incredible energy for the actors because they know the scene you’re shooting is the scene and there is no coverage. There was something that we did that nobody has mentioned: the labyrinth of corridors shrink and shrink as the movie progresses and Riggan’s level of stress and insanity grow. We narrow the width of the corridors and the ceilings come closer. We didn’t want to do it in a way that looked too strange but it’s something that you feel.

The long takes — and the shrinking of the sets — illustrate Thomson’s descent into madness. Birdman’s style has substance; it’s serving a purpose. Whether you like that purpose is another matter. Frame by Frame has released a video breaking down how the filmmakers achieved the illusion of long takes in certain scenes.

There will probably be more videos like this when Iñarritu’s The Revenant comes out, which also features some complicated long takes. There was very little daylight in British Columbia and Alberta, where the film was shot, so it would take days to get certain shots done. We’ll see if those long takes are as divisive as Birdman‘s. At the time of its release, at least the film was generating passionate discussions and debates, rather than receiving complete approval, and those tend to be the movies that age well. Where does Birdman stand with fans and general audiences now, though? Is it still talked about?

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