Monday, February 23, 2015

"Birdman": Art Imitating Life?

What can we take away from the Oscar Awards of February 22, 2015?  Is it just a lot of self-congratulatory film industry glitz or is there something more meaningful?

“Birdman” won the award for best film and best director. Although billed as dark comedy, in fact this film had depth in both characterization and theme. Interestingly, the story line concerns a supposedly washed up film star, Riggin Thompson, played by Michael Keaton. Riggin had achieved stardom in the 1990’s playing a superhero called Birdman—similar to Keaton’s own success as Batman. Perhaps Keaton was the perfect choice for this part since he could relate his personal experience to the character.

As a writer, I sometimes use life experiences in my work, drawing on reality in creating fiction. In fact, I often refer to some of my short stories and novels as faction—fictionalization of reality. It is a good way to approach writing in my opinion. If writers want readers to believe their work, they must create verisimilitude, the illusion of reality in fiction. This is done by creating realistic themes, plots and three-dimensional characters.


Your thoughts and comments welcome here.

20 comments:

  1. I'm so looking forward to seeing this movie. My son, a film graduate, said he couldn't figure out how the director did what he did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Polly,

      I read several articles about how creative and experimental the directing was in this film.

      Delete
  2. I haven't seen "Birdman," but it sounds interesting. I use lots of stuff from my life in my books. I always watch the Oscars, even though I seldom see any of the movies. Guess I watch 'em for the dresses or something.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, Alice,

    I don't see many of the films either at first. But we have cable and get SHO and HBO, and eventually see the major ones. I definitely want to see "Birdman."

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hadn't heard of the film before the Golden Globe awards, and I know a lot of people were surprised it won best film last night. Now I have to go see it, especially after reading Polly Iyer's comment about her son not knowing how the director did what he did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I have to admit to being curious as well.

      Delete
  5. Apparently, from what I understood, it looked like much was shot as one scene, with no cuts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jacqueline,
    I love that word - faction. Fictionalization of reality. What a great way to say that we need to keep our fiction realistic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Pat,

      It's something I really believe. Even when we write speculative fiction, there should be reality at the core.

      Delete
  7. My first published piece was a poem I wrote after my mother's passing. It was such an emotional time and my emotion came through the poem. I wish this could be true for all my writing. I love the word 'faction' -- it suits the fictionalization of reality. Good blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Betty,

      I'm certain your poem was moving because it came from the depths of true emotion.

      Delete
  8. Good post, Jacqueline - 'faction' is a perfect term. Art has always imitated life to one extent or another, but lately it seems that we have a growing swell of life imitating art, and that means as creators of art we have to watch ourselves. How would we feel if some person somewhere out there did exactly what we wrote? Would creating that scenario as a work of fiction somehow make us responsible? Susan, aka Janis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good observation, Susan. When people are influenced by violence in "art" it becomes very troubling.

      Delete
  9. Well said, Jacquie! Birdman is on my movie list to see, but unfortunately it hasn't yet come to our Middlebury theater. I love the premise of it, and like the concept of life imitating art. Or even vice versa. The word "faction" appeals as well. I think I've been doing it in some of my 18th-century mysteries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nancy. I hope to see the film eventually as well. And I do enjoy historical mysteries.

      Delete
    2. As a writer, I use "faction" repeatedly for my contemp novels based on history. I research until I find an actual place, event or character to use as a "prototype" I can embellish with fictional details: The mansion in A Red,Red Rose and the Civil War battles in the Valley of Virginia for Beneath the Stones, for example. Once again, your blog has pushed my writing brain into gear! Thanks!

      Delete
  10. Hi, Susan,

    This morning, I caught up on my Sunday newspaper, reading PARADE Magazine. I found a great article called "Real to Reel" about all the "real" movies based on the lives of famous people that were nominated for Oscar awards this year. It is observed how movie viewers are fascinated by the Hollywood versions of these famous lives. The real and the fictional continue to interest us all.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I like the word "faction" I like creative non-fiction but wonder if writing novels is a bit more freeing as you don't have to be "bound" to the truth and can use your imagination more

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi, Sage,

    I've written in every genre, including much non-fiction. In truth, I enjoy writing fiction best--that includes novels, short stories and plays. At one time, I wrote a considerable amount of poetry, but I do that less now. I find fiction writing freeing as you suggest.

    ReplyDelete