Birdy (Film) Research

What’s the Task?

For week two of ‘New Narratives’ my team mates and I had been asked to create both an artefact, and a schematic for the film ‘Birdy’. Below are the images from some of our mind maps we created to start this task.

The Events which occur within Birdy

Below are the images of the work I created illustrating the order of events within Birdy. After doing this, I decided to make a key and appropriately colour the events which match the time periods of this key; I felt this would help with chronologically organising the events within the film. The next step in this process is to then create a new list of the events in real time going in the order of green, amber, then red.


What is Birdy about?

Birdy (1984) is a film based on the book of the same title, first published in 1978 by  William Wharton. The story focuses on two friends, Al (Nicolas Cage) and Birdy (Matthew Modine), after both experiencing the Vietnam war. Whilst experiencing his own physical injuries after war, Al’s main purpose within the film is to help Birdy behave normally again; after the effects of war, Birdy has started to behave as if he were a literal bird. The film is constructed of a series of flash backs introduced by Al’s desperate dialogue toward Birdy; these flash backs show Al and Birdy’s friendship as teenagers.

Basic Film information:

Release Date: 21 December 1984 (USA)
Writers: Sandy Kroopf
Stars:  Matthew Modine (Birdy), Nicolas Cage (Al)
Genre: Drama, War
Director: Alan Parker
Country: USA
Production companies: A&M Films, TriStar Pictures

Link to IMDB source:

Book info:

Release Date: December 1978
US National book award (Category: First Book), finalist of Pulitzer Prize (1980)

Link to Wikepedia source:

Side Note: Much of this information surrounding the book can be found on the film’s IMDB page, however contextual information on the book itself in sparse so I decided to use Wikipedia as a basis for information.

Birdy Vogler Structure

As Birdy is not in chronological order, I really struggled to try and fit the film into the Vogler structure; whilst sorting the film into it’s order of events as they’d occur in real-life, the structure was impossible, but the structure worked to some extent in the films original order of events.

Below is an image of the result of my work trying to decipher the structure. This model worked whilst treating Al as the hero. It is important to note that the events that I have arranged within Birdy may not be in the same order as when they occur in the film.
heros journey 2


Act one (Ordinary World-Crossing the threshold):
Opening, two friends meeting, Al’s emotional break down.

Act Two (Tests, Allies, Enemies-Central Ordeal):
Al and Birdy arguing, Al facing conflicts in he present, Start of war flash backs

Act Three (Reward- Return with the elixir):
When Birdy finally comes back to normality until the end of the film.

Below is a link to my final annotations which contributed to our final outcome:

Birdy annotations 2

Schematic Structure Planning

Below are the images of my teams first attempt at planning our schematics lay out. We separated the categorises much like Phil Campbell would i.e. mission spine, character column, and different stages.
Schematic 1schematic 2Schematic 3schematic 4

The Book

After reading the book, my group and I finally appreciated just how important it was to understand Al as a character and why he may be friends with Birdy. Whilst Birdy may have appeared odd and mentally different on the exterior, it became apparent that this was a device for commentary on what being sane really meant.

book birdy



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