The Birds

by on Sep.21, 2010, under Daily Review

This one was a difficult inclusion into the project. I wasn’t really planning on three Hitchcock, in fact, I wasn’t even gonna include Psycho, but here we are and seen as we’ve had other animal’s gone crazy, why not include this one? I’m glad I did though as I probably haven’t seen this one since I was a very young lad.

The story follows a pair of love birds… well.. we start off with a bit of flirting in a pet shop, Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) are strangers but hit it off whilst checking out the birds. When Mitch leaves, Melanie follows him up the coast to the idyllic Bodega Bay with a pair of caged Love Bids which she offers as a gift. But her romantic weekend in the country turns bad when she’s attacked by a gull. Soon, the whole community are watching the skies for feathery fiends as they make their attack.

The film is vicious and claustrophobic. I was shocked how threatening the birds actually are. One scene has a whole swam enter the house through the chimney which is a relentless scene. Later, the family cower in their home, awaiting the next attack. Windows boarded up with no way of escape. This is the original zombie film, right here in Hitchcock’s Birds. This is Romero’s influence. The tension is thick and difficult, which is made worse through the fantastic characters which, as a viewer you become very close with. All characters get good screen time with plenty of depth and realism. Between the attacks, we have a real level of calm, but super tension as we await the next swoop which we know is just around the corner.

Tippi Hedren is the real star here. She is mesmerizing and charismatic and very watchable. A great accent too. Hitchcock took Tippi and made her a star, being a former model. His skill is outrageously good, an eye for talent and a knowledge of how to get the most from his cast. Here, his direction is so minimal with slow easy shots, of the countryside, snappy edits of the attacks, just like, Psycho, just like Frenzy. His edits snap in when the action is upped, but unlike psycho, there is little in the way of a score, just flappy wing noises and squawks.

This is a real classic film, solid from beginning to end, flawless, perfect. A final word, the scrip is outstandingly good. Amazing interrupted dialogue. One scene has an ornithologists talking about birds being good, never attacking unprovoked and humans being the bad guys, meanwhile a waitress calls out ‘who ordered the fried chicken?’ I’m looking forward to watching this one again.

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