It’s difficult to write about “Birdman, or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”—the new black comedy film from director Alejandro Inarritu, without saying too much. It’s constantly surprising, sometimes confusing, always fascinating and surprisingly moving. It radiates the elusive sense that everyone involved—actors, director, designers and the brilliant cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki—are working at their absolute peak. Michael Keaton is as brilliant as you’ve heard, and Edward Norton matches him every step of the way. No one is overshadowed, no one’s contribution is insignificant, because everyone is fairly vibrating with commitment.
In a way, the film is about the making of the film. What, exactly, is creativity? How important is it? How much are we willing to sacrifice in its pursuit? Talented, emotional, sometimes crazed talents come together to inhabit every inch of an old Broadway theater, clashing and racing away like fish in an overstuffed aquarium, trying to justify their lives, relationships, artistic integrity—often juggling all three at once. It’s exhilarating and more than a little scary. The fluid, seductive camera races up and down stairs, in and out of corners, keeping secrets, exposing lies and seeming every bit as demented as its human subjects.
And what it’s all about, at least for me, is the very creative process that is the central spine throughout the spiritual journey we share. What is the cost of making that creative purpose the major focus of one’s life? What is the cost of bargaining it away for more temporary, material concerns? Is there redemption? If so, what would it look like?
We are all Birdman, I think—plodding along trying to do our best most of the time, and occasionally soaring into realms that surprise and delight us. We’re both bird and man, and we’re greater than both. The more we free ourselves from fear-based rules and limitations, the more important it becomes to answer these questions and affirm our commitment to whatever we are called to create, no matter the cost.
Today, as Charles Fillmore wrote some 60 years ago, ‘I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm.’ I am at my very best, operating at my absolute peak, and I radiate my unique creative energy into every moment, every meeting, every choice.