1988 Drama

Forest Whitaker stars as the brilliant jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker in this elegiac biopic. Director Clint Eastwood pays full homage to Parker's musical genius, but also devotes ample time to the musician's twin demons--drugs and alcohol-which accelerated his death at the age of 34. In his struggles to gain widespread acceptance for his music, "Bird" is forever stymied by his own self-destructiveness, and forever bailed out by the love of his life, Chan Richardson Parker (Diane Venora). The film bemoans the decline of the brand of jazz fathered by Parker, which came to be replaced by more conventional material -- as illustrated by the "descent" into the mainstream of Parker's mentor Buster Franklin. Also starring in Bird is Samuel E. Wright as Dizzy Gillespie. That's the real Charlie "Bird" Parker on the film's soundtrack, though most of the background music has been re-orchestrated. more..

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Michael Zelniker, Samuel E. Wright, Keith David


  • n a remarkable directorial effort, Eastwood shows a great flair for atmosphere and composition and presents a nuanced, complex, humane portrait of Parker's talents, obstacles, virtues and failings. Whitaker gives a towering performance as the tortured musical genius, and Venora is equally impressive as the independent, compassionate Chan.

    - TV Guide

    19 January 2013

  • Bird wisely does not attempt to "explain" Parker's music by connecting experiences with musical discoveries. This is a film of music, not about it, and one of the most extraordinary things about it is that we are really, literally, hearing Parker on the soundtrack.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    19 January 2013

  • The film is as faithful to its subject as perhaps any film biography has been. As Eastwood said, Parker was a paradoxical character, both self-destructive and full of life, and the movie, simultaneously dark and exhilarating, takes that as its theme.

    Jack Mathews - Los Angeles Times

    19 January 2013

  • A compelling mix of music and misery as Bird flushes himself down the can.

    - Empire

    19 January 2013

  • Clint Eastwood remains a competent, rather than distinctive, film maker, but he obviously respects the material. Bird is essentially factual, and we come to understand why so many other musicians thought shooting heroin might enable them to transfer

    Mike Clark - USA Today

    19 January 2013


  • Best Sound

    Academy Awards (1989)

  • Best Score

    BAFTA Awards (1989)

  • Forest Whitaker

    Cannes Film Festival (1988)

  • Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger)

    César Awards, France (1989)

  • Best Director - Motion Picture

    Golden Globes (1989)