The Birds is an interesting film for me as it is one that I saw as a young child and terrified me being at such a tender age, so much that I still suffer from an irrational fear of chickens (which is odd and there are no chickens in The Bird). After thus experience I had no desire to watch it since until fairly recently when I saw the film The Girl which tells the story of Hitchcock’s obsession with actress Tippi Hedren and her mistreatment during filming. This sparked an interest and made this a film I was really looking forward to. 

WHAT HAPPENED?

Melanie (Tippi Hedren) is a heiress to a newspaper fortune and a girl who always gets what she wants. So when she is rejected by a potential lover (Rod Taylor) she pursues him across the country to a tiny fishing village where he lives. Soon after she arrives events take a turn as the birds begin attacking people in increasing numbers; before long the entire town caught in a fight for survival.

THE GOOD

The tension which is built up during the opening of this film is incredible with an onslaught of bird imagery attacking the viewer in every scene; birds are constantly mentioned – but fondly – and seen just being average birds. This makes them all the creepier when they suddenly turn evil and begin their attacks.

The special effects are fantastic, especially for a film in the 60’s; the use of compositing film to make it appear there are hundreds of birds works wonderfully and is incredibly believable, without looking dated.

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The film also has some fantastic imagery; a wide shot of a burning town, the birds appearing on a pylon, Tippi Hedren being attacked by Birds – at one point Hitchcock actually set live birds on her to increase the realism and play mind games.

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Another factor that was enjoyable about the film is that the reasons for the Birds attacks wasn’t mentioned. This made the film so much more interesting to watch as one thing I really dislike about modern film – particularly comedies – is when they create witchcraft or a curse (think Shallow Hal) from nowhere to have the film make sense. The audience doesn’t need to understand everything that’s going on to enjoy and sometimes – as in this film and countless Woody Allen pictures – it’s more interesting to form your own opinions.

THE BAD

This film although being entertaining does have a few problems; firstly it is a little slow before the bird’s attacks. The characters drive around, discuss birds and not much really happen; after the first attack however the film really takes off.

Something else that I was unsure about when watching this film was the fact there was no score; in my opinion music can improve any film and although I can see the artistic decision to not use music; the one scene in which music is used (a school choir singing) is also one of the most memorable and tension building. 

A final problem with this is the ending which was a huge let down; again I can see the reasons the ending but it was just so anti-climatic that I was left wanting much more.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

Hitch makes a cameo at the start leaving a pet shop whilst walking two dogs

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FINAL THOUGHTS

The Birds is a difficult one to rate because although it is mostly entertaining it is far from the best Hitch work in terms of camera & performance. However the special effects do look incredible and therefore I award the film 5 Hitchs.

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