Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Birds


Another Hitchcock classic which tells the story of Melanie Daniels who visits Bodega Bay in search of Mitch Brenner, a young man who she develops a crush on in a meeting at a pet store. However when she arrives the local birdlife begins to act very strangely, attacking the townsfolk causing the town chaos. 


 The film centres itself around the female cast mostly which is an explanation for the research and deconstructions by feminists. In any horror film the audience has sympathise with the characters involved and The Birds does just that. The audience are given the back stories of both Annie and Lydia and although they both seem rather strange in their manner it's hard not to sympathise with them. This is the opposite for Mitch, he just seems to be the lead for Melanie to stalk him, and his character isn't really looked into other than the obvious mummy's boy characteristic. Scott agrees in his review 'An important part of any horror film is that you empathise with and like the main cast. Hedren as Melanie is quite good, as is a young Suzanne Pleshette as the school teacher who pines for Mitch. In fact, all of the female characters are more fully developed than the male as Mitch is fairly dull, without too many distinctive character traits while the women are all given depth.' (Scott 2010)

The idea of birds attacking people doesn't seem that frightening at first, almost laughable, but when watching the birds the suspense grows and grows the more birds that are present. The scene outside of the school is probably the most intense moment of the whole film where Melanie sits outside the school while birds begin to flock behind her. She turns around only to see hundreds of birds perched onto the playground equipment firing up to a horrific conclusion of the birds chasing the schoolchildren down the road. The special effects have aged and it is easy to spot that the birds aren't real however through typical Hitchcock mastery the suspense he delivers is unbearable. The Birds soundtrack consists of synthesised bird sounds which also add to the creepiness of the flocking birds. Schwartz comments 'It's all ridiculous but Hitchcock earns his paycheck by making the scenes of the attacking birds scary, especially where they are gathering in great numbers outside the public school in the playground and then attacking the fleeing schoolchildren. It works as a shocker probably because its shock scenes are so unexpected that it makes us think about birds in a way we never have before.' (Schwartz 2007)


 Looking into a review from when the film was released it is instantly recognisable for the distaste of its gore. It states 'Having hinted at the ornithophobic horror to come, Director Alfred Hitchcock goes nattering on with an hour of some silly plot-boiling about a flirtatious society girl (Tippi Hedren), a lovelorn schoolmarm (Suzanne Pleshette), an Oedipus wreck (Rod Taylor) and a pair of lovebirds. Hitchcock addicts will just be getting jittery for their first fix of gore when it suddenly becomes clear that the birds is coming: man's feathered friends set themselves to wipe out an entire village on the California coast.' (unknown 1963) The review goes on to explain the distaste of the ending which works on so many levels especially in ambiguity. It leaves us with the thoughts of figuring out the reason for the birds attack and shows an odd shot shared between Melanie and Lydia where the mother embraces Melanie in her frail state, someone relies on her and Lydia enjoys this.


Bibliography:

Scott, The Birds review, 17th August 2010, http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review/birds accessed on 8/2/2011

Dennis Schwartz, The Birds review, 11th July 2007, http://homepages.sover.net/~ozus/birds.htm accessed on 8/2/2011

Unknown, They is here, 5th April 1963, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,830097,00.html accessed on 8/2/2011

Images:
Film Poster - http://hitchcock.tv/mov/birds/images/birds.jpg accessed on 8/2/2011

Melanie and Mitch - http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/birds/birds_shot1l.jpg accessed on 8/2/2011

The schoolhouse scene - http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_VRME60-RLag/SGpHbVfWOdI/AAAAAAAAFcM/BjilwmaTI5Q/s320/American+Hitchcock+%28256%29.BMP accessed on 8/2/2011

Melanie after being attacked by birds - http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_CRBK_oJYQOo/SwDQxkBWFiI/AAAAAAAAAxk/28x8wjJQkj0/s1600/cap712.bmp accessed on 8/2/2011

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