Birdy (1984)

Birdy (1984)

Taglines: A soaring experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Philly boys Al and Birdy became friends in high school despite the extreme difference in their personalities, Al being the popular and athletic extrovert, Birdy the antisocial “weird” introvert. Al gave Birdy his nickname because of his fascination – obsession really – with birds, especially with flight. Al and Birdy have just completed their service of duty in the Vietnam War and have returned to the States.

Al sustained some serious physical injuries, which required major reconstructive surgery to his face. Birdy, however, returned from Vietnam seemingly emotionally scarred. He was missing in action for one month. He has not spoken since he was found. Despite his own medical issues, Al travels to the institution where Birdy is being kept to see if he can assist in getting Birdy out of his near comatose state. Having always had issues with authority, Al is less than forthright with the doctors about Birdy’s mental state prior to the war.

Birdy is a 1984 American drama film and adaptation of William Wharton’s 1978 novel of the same name. Directed by Alan Parker, the film stars Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage. The film focuses on the friendship between Birdy (Modine) and Al Columbato (Nicolas Cage), two teenage boys living in a working-class neighborhood in 1960s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The story is told in flashbacks, with a frame story depicting their traumatic experiences upon serving in the Vietnam War.

Following publication of the novel in 1978, Parker initially turned down an opportunity to direct the film, as he felt that the complex novel could not be made into a feature film. The project resurfaced in 1982 when A&M Films, a newly established film division of A&M Records, acquired the film rights and commissioned Sandy Kroopf and Jack Behr to write the script.

A year later, Parker signed on to direct the film and took the project to Tri-Star Pictures. The film’s principal photography began in May 1984 and concluded in August of that year. Filming took place on locations in Philadelphia and Santa Clara, California. Birdy is notable for being the first film to be partially shot with the Skycam, a computer-controlled camera system created by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown. The film’s score was composed by Peter Gabriel.

Birdy Movie Poster (1984)

Birdy (1984)

Directed by: Alan Parker
Starring: Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage, Karen Young, John Harkins, Sandy Baron, Bruno Kirby, Nancy Fish, Dolores Sage, Maud Winchester
Screenplay by: Sandy Kroopf
Production Design by: Geoffrey Kirkland
Cinematography by: Michael Seresin
Film Editing by: Gerry Hambling
Costume Design by: Kristi Zea
Set Decoration by: George R. Nelson
Music by: Peter Gabriel
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release Date: December 21, 1984