Thursday, 2 April 2015

Film Review - The Birds (1963)

Fig.1 The Birds (1963) Movie Poster

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) is considered a classic by many, and quite rightly so. Hitchcock's dramatic use of shots create a tense experience throughout. The characters are victims to a persistent and un-explainable attack, and that is something that keeps us on the edge of our seats. Kim Newman summaries the film by calling it a "Genuinely disturbing thriller classic from the master of suspense." - (Newman, 2007).

Fig.2 Children running away from the birds.

Hitchcock makes great use of the "limitations" of 1963, and so there are certain scenes that are rather comical by today's standards, as we see stuffed birds flying around via a piece of string. Hitchcock makes these effects slightly unnoticed as we want to continue watching the actions of the characters. Scott Nash refers to these effects in his review by pointing out that "The only thing dated about this movie is the special effects ." - (Nash, 2010). It can argued that The Birds is a major pioneer for many modern films that are based around attacks from the natural/un-natural. The film plays out in a similar way to most modern Zombie films, for example, in that the main characters are constantly trying to escape and have no understanding behind what is happening. The answer behind these attacks is still undiscovered, and so we continue to question the events of the film, even after the credits have stopped rolling.

Fig.3 Mitch Brenner and Melanie Daniels

Hitchcock's trademark use of a blonde, good looking woman is seen in this film, as Melanie Daniels (Played by Tippi Hedren) is the lead character. We follow her throughout and it later becomes apparent that she is the main target. The birds seem to always follow her and so we ask ourselves "Is Hitchcock trying to tell us something?" It is, however, Mitch Brenner (Played by Rod Taylor) who is our "hero" and is always there to save the damsel in distress, which is now known as quite a cliched idea. Is Hitchcock trying to tell us something here, also? This is another question that is left un-answered.

Like in "Psycho" (1960) and "North by Northwest" (1959), Hitchcock uses a brilliantly tense soundtrack throughout the film. However, unlike his previous films, the score was put together by compiling together a series of birds sounds. This strange use of sounds, and lack of music, makes the film feel much stranger and have a quite un-comfortable tone. Dennis Schwartz refers to the soundtrack in his review by saying "The Birds used a synthesized score consisting entirely of bird sounds, not music. This helped create the eerie mood throughout. " - (Schwartz, 2007)

Fig.4 The Birds

The Birds is one of Hollywood's classics. It has influenced many modern horror films and has raised many questions about the attacks and use of characters. The Birds will make you question what you have just saw, and that is one of the reasons why the film is so successful.

Illustration List:
Fig.1 The Birds (1963) Movie Poster - (Accessed 02/04/2015)

Fig.2 Children running away from the birds. - - (Accessed 02/04/2015)

Fig.3 Mitch Brenner and Melanie Daniels - - (Accessed 02/04/2015)

Fig.4 The Birds - (Accessed 02/04/2015)

Nash, Scott (2010) - Movie Review: The Birds - - (Accessed 02/04/2015)

Newman, Kim (2007) - The Birds - - (Accessed 02/04/2015)

Schwartz, Dennis (2007) - The Birds -  - (Accessed 02/04/2015)

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