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Just like in a dream

I can relate (in my dreamscape).
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The star of the Academy Award-winning film Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Michael Keaton, grabbed some headlines this past weekend when he confronted a heckler who was harassing a player on Keaton’s beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, during a game in Atlanta against the Braves.

It was a very Birdman-esque moment. It was a very Michael Keaton moment. And for someone who has loved Keaton’s work over the years – and the man himself, he’s great! – I loved the idea that Keaton (in the first Batman, of course), who had largely disappeared from public consciousness in the past few years (remember White Noise?), comes back with a  literal “bang!”

The word “pirate” reminded me of an article I saw regarding the Birdman film. It was over at and dealt with an alternative ending to the film involving Johnny Depp and the existential angst he had in doing a loop of Pirates of the Caribbean films (Depp has had some doggone issues filming the latest installment in Australia) and finding himself in a Broadway dressing room saying, “What the fuck are we doing here, mate?”

But due to issues in not being able to get Depp or the rights to using Pirates of the Caribbean imagery, the ending was changed – and far better in its ambiguity.

Did Riggan Thomson have telekinetic powers? Was he able to fly? Did he die after committing “suicide” on stage? What of the jellyfish and the meteor? At the end, is his daughter Sam looking up at Riggan flying or at the beautiful, plunging space debris about to strike the planet? (NASA is taking notice).

So many questions. Beautiful questions.

But this isn’t meant to be a review of that film (RDR’s Louis Fowler did that already). Since Dust Devil Dreams often deals with synchronicity and dreams, I want to talk about one aspect of Birdman that really grabbed my attention.

The moments when Riggan Thomson is flying. He doesn’t do a Superman number on us, arms held out in front, hands pointed forward. He lifts up into the air.

When I saw that I immediately thought back to the countless dreams I’ve had where I find myself in a room – like a large gymnasium – and with a little effort by trying to pull myself up, I actually lift up into the air – in a sense, flying, just as Riggan Thomson does in Birdman.

I was reminded of this "flying" feeling (it's also like the Marley ghost in the 1970 Dickens film/musical Scrooge with Albert Finney) just recently and was struck by how real the experience felt to me. The most real, dreamlike experience I've ever had. I really felt like I could do this, at least for a split second.

So, what portion of Birdman was a dream? What was real? What was imagined? Did he really fly and have telekinetic powers? It's an enigmatic and puzzling film and deserved the Oscar.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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