- 2 hr 41 min
Bird is a 1988 biographical film based on the life of the legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker (aka "Bird"). It stars Forest Whitaker in the lead role, along with Diane Venora and Michael Zelniker in supporting roles. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film portrays the highs and lows of Parker's life, from his early struggle to make a name for himself to his meteoric rise as a jazz icon, and his eventual decline into drug addiction and premature death. The movie opens with a young Charlie Parker playing the saxophone in a Kansas City jazz club, still searching for his own sound. He meets the beautiful Chan, a talented singer, and they fall in love. But their relationship is complicated by Parker's growing drug use and the constant grind of the jazz scene, which takes a toll on their happiness. As Parker's reputation as a saxophonist grows, he travels to New York City to join the jazz elite. There, he meets Dizzy Gillespie and begins to collaborate with him on a new style of jazz that will come to be known as Bebop. Their partnership leads to a series of landmark recordings and performances that earn them fame and admiration among critics and fans alike. But as Parker's star rises, his personal life suffers. His addiction to heroin and alcohol spirals out of control, and his relationship with Chan and their daughter suffers. Parker's erratic behavior and unreliable performances lead to him being kicked out of clubs and losing gigs, until he is reduced to playing for a pittance in small clubs. The film portrays Parker's personal and professional decline in heartbreaking detail. He loses his wife, his daughter, and his friends to his drug addiction, and becomes increasingly isolated and desperate. At one point, he attempts suicide by jumping out of a window, but survives with severe injuries. The movie ends with Parker's tragic death at the age of 34, from a combination of drugs and alcohol. Despite his personal struggles, Parker's legacy as a virtuoso saxophonist and innovator of modern jazz continues to this day. Bird is a powerful and emotional film that captures the essence of Parker's life and music. Whitaker delivers a stunning performance as Parker, capturing both his talent and his demons with raw intensity. Venora is equally impressive as Chan, portraying her as a strong and loving woman who is ultimately unable to save Parker from himself. The film's musical score is also a standout, featuring some of Parker's most iconic recordings and performances. The combination of Eastwood's direction, Whitaker's acting, and Parker's music creates a powerful portrait of a man who was both a musical genius and a tragic figure. In conclusion, Bird is a must-see film for anyone interested in jazz music or the life of Charlie Parker. It is a raw and honest portrayal of a man whose talent and addiction played out against the backdrop of the jazz scene in the early 20th century. The film is a loving tribute to Parker's music and legacy, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of drug addiction.