Tuesday, 26 January 2016

CUTTING EDGES 4: 'The Birds' (1963)

Figure 1. 'The Birds' (1963) Poster
Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' (1963) is a well renowned movie that showcases modern traits of film making. It's style is reminiscent of techniques used in TV shows like 'The Walking Dead' (2010-Present) which will be spoke about within this review. 
Although the beginning of this movie is drawn out, it's finale really packs a punch, or in this case...a peck.

Fig. 2 Film Still

The first act of this movie is slow, it is put together with shots that show characters talking in ways that are very natural. At times it feels as if you are the camera and you are passing people in the street or this case a pet shop, and you suddenly catch the glimpse of two individuals conversing suspiciously across the room. In this case we are treated to the story of, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hendren) and Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor). 'The film's first act, after all, is an uncomfortable buildup of tension (both sexual and social), and ongoing joust of loaded glances and teasing evasions. Its characters are so guarded, so gamey, so disconnected from their own emotions, that something's got to give.' (Brooks, 2012) It's not only uncomfortable due to this tension between the characters, but it's also due to the tension that Hitchcock is filling audiences with. His lengthy shots filled with dialogue between Melanie and Mitch, spliced together with quick shots of a seagull attacking Melanie and back to Mitch saving the day. As an audience we sit, waiting for the next attack wondering whether the next will be worse. 

As well as the great use of camera work, there is an underlining factor that is hinted from the very moment that Melanie meets Mitch's mother, Lydia. Jealousy, it is clear as day, his mother is jealous of the love that Mitch has for the new girl about town. 'What woman wouldn't feel threatened if Melanie arrived in town? In her chic green suit, her peroxide hair swept into an immaculate chignon, and her soft lips moulded into a succession of minxish pouts, Hedren makes Melanie the very height of 1960s sophistication' (Sooke, 2015) The way Melanie dresses is definitely key within this role. She stands out amongst the crowds of Bodega Bay, the colours within this island are seemingly bland and natural  but Melanie is the new girl in town, she is hip, an outsider to their small reclusive looking world.

Fig. 3 Film Still

As said within the introduction of this review, there seems to be comparisons with the hit U.S TV Series 'The Walking dead'. The mood within the entirety of the film is quite low. Happiness within Bodega Bay seems like a thing of the past. 'There may be no explanation for it (except that symbolic one, perhaps), but the fierceness and frightfulness of it are sufficient to cause shock and chills. And that is, no doubt, what Mr. Hitchcock primarily intends' (Crowther, 1963) Just like an hour long episode of 'The Walking Dead' the first 45 minutes are slow, they are just a build up of what is to come within the last 15 minutes, which is exactly what happens during the conclusion of the film,  it almost feels with the ending that Hitchcock gives the audience that 'The Birds' is one film of a trilogy, it could be said that another film could gather up all of it's loose ends, why did the birds attack? and why this family in particular?  And what is to come for the rest of the world? Only Hitchcock himself would have known.


Crowther, B (1963) 'The Birds' (1963) Screen: The Bird's: Hitchcock's Feather Fiends Are Chilling' At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D05E7D9143CEF3BBC4953DFB2668388679EDE Accessed on: 26-01-2016

Brooks, X (2012) 'My Favourite Hitchcock: The Birds' At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2012/jul/31/my-favourite-hitchcock-the-birds Accessed on: 26-01-2016

Sooke, A (2015) 'The Birds, Review: 'disturbing' At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/11334674/The-Birds-review-disturbing.html Accessed on: 26-01-2016


Figure. 1 'The Bird's' (1963) [Poster] At: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KnRvtjqs9hk/TVfkGczaIvI/AAAAAAAAAt4/5p_rksdI9JU/s1600/Birds+film+poster.jpg Accessed on: 26-01-2016

Figure. 2 [Film Still] At: http://www.herdudeness.com/uploads/2/1/3/8/21389164/7940044_orig.jpg Accessed on: 26-01-2016

Figure. 3 [Film Still] At: http://www.mardecortesbaja.com/birdsfinale.jpg Accessed on: 26-01-2016


  1. "its finale really packs a punch, or in this case...a peck." haha!