Birdman is a movie about a theater play that tells a lot about movies, movie stars, actor and Hollywood.

I wonder why it is subtitled The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.

Is it meant as ...

Ignorance is bliss

... or more like ...

beati pauperes spiritu - Blessed in spirit are the poor.

I think it's safe to say that nothing in that movie is done randomly.

After all, the movie goes to great lengths :

  • 2
    Please avoid asking more than one question in any given question. You're welcome to open as many different questions as you like. The last paragraph seems to have nothing to do with your question, so I recommend making it another one... though this question sounds like you're looking for a list, and a subjective one at that, which is something we don't really do.
    – Catija
    Mar 10, 2015 at 4:49

4 Answers 4


The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

It's the title of Tabitha Dickinson's review about the play. She's a critic, initially she detests Riggan and his play but after actually watching it, she turns in a positive review praising Riggan's performance and his play.

A similar question was asked here and there's an excellent answer by a user.

Tabitha Dickinson is a critic who is deeply ingrained in the history of theater, specifically New York theater. To her, somebody who hasn't spent time in the theater is an amateur. They should spend time building up their skills and investing in the experience. She doesn't consider movie and TV acting as the same skill. She's seen a lot of theater that breaks the rules, and most of it has been very bad.

The line refers to her being impressed with this show. Though he has no experience, he has created a show that works well. An ignorant person has made choices that an experienced Broadway director wouldn't, but they worked.

Note: The answer in the quotes was copied from another website. If the answer is helpful, please make sure the original answerer gets credited.


It is titled this because the entire movie is about man who is ignorant to how insignificant he is in the grand scheme of life. And his ignorance leads him to accomplish something spectacular: successfully starring, directing, and producing a play on Broadway.

Few Hollywood actors are known to ever accomplish this feat and most of them don't go from the mainstream shallow blockbuster stardom Riggan, the main character, once had to try and pull off something as artistic as he did.

It was ignorance of how dumb he looked that pushed him to his limits and allowed for his success to manifest as such a large scale at the end of the film.


The full title is

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

So that means, if you call something Birdman, it can be called The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance and vice versa.

In the end, Tabitha called Riggan The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. That means Riggan has become Birdman, becoming the real art which he has sought for a long time.


as pointed out, Tabitha Dickinson (the critic) uses this line as title for her review. but I also believe that this review, as much as everyrthing else coming after the main character shooting himself in the head are, in fact, purely delusional. it is obvious (at least to me) that the suicide was successful and that nonsense happy ending is what the main character hoped to achieve committing suicide during the play

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    Welcome to Movies.SE! Please note that this is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum - your answer doesn't really add anything apart from your own opinions towards the ending, and those aren't really relevant to the question at hand.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 20, 2018 at 10:48

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