“Broken Bird,” despite its short run time, is a simple film with a poignant and relevant message.
The film follows the life of its protagonist, a biracial teenage girl named Birdie. Birdie lives with her Jewish mother and has occasional visits with her African-American father. Rachel Harrison Gordon gives viewers a brief snapshot of Birdie’s life. This film succeeds because of its accurate and relatable depiction of Birdie’s adversity. The film subtly displays how these problems stem not from her biracial identity, but rather the clash of the two different cultures she attempts to navigate.
Her life with her mother shows a rigid lifestyle, closely following the teachings of Judaism. With her dad, Birdie can breathe for a moment and relax. I do believe that both parents cherish her dearly and want what is best for her. The father struggles to stay involved with Birdie’s life, but he does care about her. I do love the fact that her parents are able to interact politely. There doesn’t seem to be any harsh blood between them. If there is, then they do a good job of not exposing that in front of their daughter.
I have been researching the trends of biracial representation in media and the parents are doing a good job. How parents view their own race and each other’s race could affect how biracial children or teens see themselves. Because neither parent shows negative feelings towards the other, they will help Birdie develop a strong sense of biracial identity. My favorite part about this movie is it doesn’t depict Birdie’s biracial status as the source of her problems. While she has her own personal struggle with biracial identity, she is not fighting for her life because she is biracial.
It could be incredibly eye-opening for society because it normalizes the presence of biracial children and teenagers. Being biracial myself, the film resonated very deeply with me. The film was able to portray the struggle of being biracial, but still make it relatable. While biracial teens can relate to Birdie due to how different her mother and father’s sides are, others can relate to different factors like having a split family. Because the main focus of this movie is the coming of age story of a biracial teen, many of the scenes reflect that.
I adore the soundtrack and its influences from black and Jewish culture. It combines the two cultures, especially when Birdie listens to her father’s music at her mother’s home.
I definitely recommend this movie because of its powerful message about accepting oneself. At one point, Birdie invites her father back into her life by asking him to attend her bat mitzvah. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show up, but Birdie does not let his absence ruin her moment. The film ends with Birdie dancing around the Oheb Shalom Congregation. This scene just seems really powerful and freeing. I think it’s the only time we see Birdie comfortable with being herself. While talking with her father, she talked about how uncomfortable she feels with certain aspects of the congregation, like the Torah portion she was assigned and some of the rabbis. You would think that after this conversation she would appear nervous and timid while she was in the synagogue, but she’s not. She looks proud to be a member of the Congregation. I think it shows that she has finally accepted her identity. She has finally accepted that she is who she is. Obviously, since Birdie is so young there’s a lot of room for growth, but the ending makes me believe that she is on the right track.
My name is Jeanette Marie Haynes, and I am a Communications major at Campbell University. I have been spending most of my junior year analyzing the trends of biracial representation and plan to continue researching this topic.