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Bird [VHS]

107 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Michael Zelniker, Samuel E. Wright, Keith David
  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Writers: Joel Oliansky
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, David Valdes
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: July 1, 1991
  • Run Time: 161 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301313615
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,248 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Clint Eastwood's moody, evocative direction and Forest Whitaker's strong, sensitive performance are the chief proponents to recommend an otherwise muted biopic of '40s jazz legend Charlie Parker, who fell victim to his chemical excesses and convinced the doctor who pronounced him dead that he was a good four decades older than he actually was. The film doesn't try to assign clear blame for Parker's demons, though the era's racism is addressed unflinchingly. Clearly a labor of love, Eastwood's movie structurally attempts to ape the angular music of bebop itself (there are flashbacks within flashbacks, which gets a little confusing), but doesn't quite capture the smolder of the period. Diane Venora registers strongly as Bird's wife, Chan, the woman who can't rescue Bird from the abyss into which he peers. --David Kronke

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

152 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Unlucky Frank on March 7, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Wow, I can't believe the negative reviews for this MASTERPIECE by Clint Eastwood. Being a big fan of Jazz, I've owned this film for many years in more than one incarnation, and have watched it more times than I care to tally.
Many reviewers said it's overly dark. Yep. Jazz musicians spend most of their time in dark smoke-filled nightclubs. So does BIRD. This is a great MOOD PIECE. It could also be called FILM NOIR.
Many said it doesn't establish why Charlie Parker was one of the greats of Jazz. In one particularly brilliant scene of writing in this film, Parker is talking about himself and the legend of BIRD to Red Rodney, partner in Jazz and fellow heroin addict. He talks about "going inside the melody" of Cherokee, a song he had played many times and was tired of doing. Parker decides to go around the melody with little notes and discovers his style. Thus, a whole new form of music called Be Bop is born. A superb scene.
Many reviewers said it dwelt too heavily on the negative aspects of Parker's drug abuse. This is true. However, heroin played a significant part in early Jazz music in this country. Heavily significant. A majority of the best and brightest Jazz stars were plagued by addiction for many years. Read Miles Davis' autobiography. He lists them all. Eastwood recognizes this in a scene where Parker is in Paris and is debating whether to return to the States. A fellow sideman is trying convince him to stay in France where he can make a decent living. SIDEMAN: "You can't make no living playing Jazz in the States." BIRD: "Dizz can. Duke can." SIDEMAN: "Well you ain't Dizz. And you certainly ain't Duke." BIRD: "So I kick." The Sideman laughs uproariously. BIRD: "I can kick." The Sideman laughs harder.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Odell on July 10, 2005
Format: DVD
This is an American film masterpiece about America's greatest art form seen through the tragic life of one of its greatest practitioners. I've seen the film many times, and read all of the reviews here on Amazon. I want to sing this film's praises, and credit Eastwood with one of his truly great triumphs (right up there with "Unforgiven"). I am a lifelong jazz and film aficionado, and I was gainfully employed in each industry in creative and business capacities for 17 years. I actually agree with the person who wrote that having some knowledge about Bird's life and music is helpful before seeing this film. But you don't need much. I agree that there is little way to cinematically pay tribute to what he achieved musically. This is a biographical film, and what actually happens in a life does not for the most part stand up to larger-than-life legend making. This film is indeed structured like Bird's playing, shot in a way that beautifully reinforces the story. It's the very courage that Eastwood showed in shooting this script that matches the artistic courage, creativity and individuality that Bird had so much of. It is an American art film, understated for a change, and it rings true in its grittiness. Forest Whitaker, Lenny Niehaus - may you always take pleasure from your peak achievements. Diane Venora - I have always loved you and never more than here. To me, your performance is the definition of what should win Best Supporting Actress. Please work more, silly though that sounds. Every time I see this film, its timeless quality emerges through its basic understatement and artfulness.
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Format: DVD
I am not usually a big fan of bio-pics about genius musicians because it is impossible to "act" them playing. And, after all, it is their playing that we care about. However, Clint Eastwood brings so much affection and integrity to this film and Forest Whitaker has such a perfectly fit genius of his own for this role that I think it comes off quite well.

Charlie Parker was a tortured soul whose musicianship was so powerful that he was able to teach himself a virtuoso style of playing jazz alto saxophone that has influenced nearly every alto-sax player since. Certainly, anyone with pretensions to playing bebop jazz. The film captures his difficult beginnings, his powerful rise and artistry, his terrible drug addictions (and how this also provided an unfortunate influence on others), and his early, far too early, death.

There is the sound of his playing throughout the movie, but it is in short snippets. We get more over the closing credits. But we get enough to remember what is special and unique about his playing. Everyone talks about his speed and harmonic variety. All that is there, certainly. However, there is also so much in Parker's commitment to what he is singing through his horn that allows us to feel the music in a way that was unique to him. Without that ability to reach into the heart of an audience, no amount of virtuosity can keep an audience for generations. Parker is still winning new fans every day and that is his greatest legacy. This film is a nice tribute to him. It is just so sad that he got onto such a self destructive path and the only way off for him was to die at 34.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela HALL OF FAME on September 21, 2004
Format: DVD
Eastwood made a real gem with this delicate , haunting and powerful portrait around this living legend : this pioneer of elusive sound sax : Charlie Parker .

Forrest Whitaker played a superb role (the best of his career to date) with this acting . The photography ; the shot angles , the painful script which never falls in the melodrama soap . Eastwood reveals with a supreme maestry his masterful technique as atmosphere creator . Since he was obviously a hard fan of Parker , he left for the eternity this deep insight to the emotional mood of Charlie who died so young (34) and whose early loss still shocks the world jazz . Can you imagine the glorious solo between Bird and Miles Davis for instance with Bill Evans at the piano? . Too beauty to be true , indeed .

Thanks Mr . Eastwood for your double rendition ; to Jazz world and the Cinema .

It is useless to recommend the soundtrack of that film .

Do you know another Laura version which can match with this one ?
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