Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Birds (1963)

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) arrives in Bodega Bay in an attempt to woe Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), a handsome bachelor she met by chance the day before. When she arrives in town she is inexplicably attacked by a seagull. As the days follow more and more bird attacks begin to happen. All sorts of birds, gulls, sparrows and crows begin attacking en mass, even killing two citizens.

I guess it's pretty shameful that I have never seen The Birds until now! But it certainly lived up to its reputation; it is terrifying! I'm not sure I'll ever look at a bird the same way again! Ha! Watching this film you can certainly see how Hitchcock got his nickname, 'the master of suspense'. Despite the frightening subject matter, it is still a very enjoyable film (its a bit like Jaws in that regard). The film also stars Jessica Tandy and Veronica Cartwright, as Mitch's mother and sister respectively.

The films strength lies in its ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and then by not explaining the extraordinary. Why are the birds attacking? There is no answer. And why do the attacks only begin when Daniel's arrives in town? Is she connected, as some suggest? Again, there is no answer, the audience is left to form their own views.

The film was loosely based on a novelette by Daphne du Maurier. The original tale was seen as a metaphor for the Blitz during World War Two. Hitchcock however had his screenplay changed so it involved a more elaborate plot and different characters.
Shooting of the film was not without problems. The Birds was Hedren's film debut, and Hitchcock was hoping to groom her into his next Grace Kelly. Unfortunately his behaviour became more and more obsessive and during the filming of the final sequence he had the bird handlers throw real birds at her instead of the mechanical ones she had been expecting. Hedren was terrified and was ordered by her doctor to have several days of bed rest to recover.

So watch out for those birds! You never know what they may be planning!


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