The Birds (1963)

THE BIRDS (1963)
Article 2125 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-9-2007
Posting Date: 6-7-2007
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Featuring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy

A rich playgirl goes to Bodega Bay to play a practical joke on a lawyer she met in a pet store. Their lives are interrupted when birds in the area beginning attacking people.

When it comes to his forays into genre territory, Hitchcock’s PSYCHO seems to be the one that garners most of the attention and acclaim. Though that movie certainly deserves it, I prefer this one, his foray into the “nature gone wild” subgenre, and a truly harrowing film in its own right. With this viewing, I couldn’t help but notice how well he develops the characters and situations during the first half of the movie, despite the fact that they don’t really have much to do with the bird attacks which are the central elements to the plot. Actually, this contributes quite a bit to the madness; the bird attacks take on the feel of an interruption of our normal lives as any big disaster does. I also notice how Hitchcock is able to build tension even in scenes that don’t overtly require it; for example, there’s some real tension in the scene with the man in the elevator, even though his only purpose is to pass on information to Tippi Hedren’s character. I also find that the movie (especially in the final scenes) has a strong similarity to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (boarded up house, character in shock, etc.), and I wonder if Romero was influenced by this one. And even though there is some controversy about the ending of the movie (some people are disappointed by it because it promises an event that doesn’t happen), I find it perfect; I’ve always felt that the reason the promised event doesn’t happen is because it doesn’t need to happen, and the final scene, more than any other moment I’ve seen in the movies, leaves me with the feeling that I’m staring right into the face of the apocalypse. Great performances from all abound, with 88-year old Ethel Griffies nearly stealing the movie as an ornithologist.

 

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