What is the movie Birdy about?

Birdy is a 1984 movie starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage directed by Alan Parker. It's listed as a "Drama / War" film. The following summary was given for the 41st San Fransisco International Film Festival:
Defying predictable genres like war film, buddy film and nostalgic coming-of-age film, Alan Parker gives us a fresh, iconoclastic movie that continues to surprise up to the last frame. Nicolas Cage, in one of his earliest performances, tempers his trademark fatalistic smolder with youthful exuberance as Al, a Philly boy whose best friend imagines himself to be a bird. Matthew Modine is Birdy, a diffident, ornithologically obsessed youth whose tenuous grasp on reality is maintained through his friendship with Al. As Al goes through the growing pains of adolescence, Birdy retreats further and further into his dreamworld, a world in which he can fly above the city like his beloved bird Purdah. Reality intrudes in the form of Vietnam, which separates the friends, opening their eyes to life beyond the safe haven of their neighborhood. Told in a series of flashbacks, the film opens with Al traveling to a military hospital to visit Birdy, who squats in a corner of his room all day staring out the window with his head cocked like a bird. Consistently resisting maudlin conclusions, Parker creates a film of intelligence and depth, and Cage's performance as the wounded Al gives clear evidence of the burgeoning talent that made him a star.

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