Unit 4 Film Review: The Birds 1963. Dir.

, Alfred Hitchcock

Poster Image

Rod Taylor
Mitch Brenner

Tippi Hedren
Melanie Daniels

Jessica Tandy
Lydia Brenner

Unit 4 Film Review: The Birds 1963. Dir., Alfred Hitchcock

Suzanne Pleshette
Annie Hayworth

Veronica Cartwright
Cathy Brenner

Ethel Griffies Mrs Bundy In all the film reviews I have undertaken for this course none have divided opinion quite like ‘The Birds’. Whether reading reviews online or discussing this film with with peers, it seems to invoke a ‘marmite-like’ polarised state. It is either loved or hated. Admired or dismissed. ‘Beneath all of this elaborate feather bedlam lies a Hitch cock-and-bull story that's essentially a fowl ball’. Staff V., (2007) The reason for this may be Hitchcock’s departure from the human condition. It could be that after so many films he has simply run out of dark and disconcerting behaviours to manipulate for entertainment purposes. The reason for this change of recipe is unclear, there can be no doubt that the director can still tug on his audiences heart strings, however this film feels less certain than others. It comes laced with an ambiguity that befuddles on closer inspection. Sure, there are familiar issues that we as an audience expect, maternal jealousy, indeed jealousy of lost love, the danger of a free thinking radical socialite matched with the tempered, conservative view of a respectable lawyer. But the fact remains that the raison d'être of this film is structured around a series of intelligent and organised avian attacks that whilst serving the director’s purpose have no place in the film. Granted that a film entitled ‘The Birds’ without said winged protagonists would be flimsy. Only slightly more so

Unit 4 Film Review: The Birds 1963. Dir., Alfred Hitchcock

than bird attacks for no reason, and indeed none is given. It almost appears that the issue of plot has been swept under the carpet in an embarrassed way. It just makes no sense, and by this I mean the absence of reason. I have often wondered how much respect Alfred Hitchcock had for his audience’s intelligence. His directorial/dictatorial style is such that the viewer of ‘Psycho’ for example has their hand held by Hitchcock throughout. His meticulous vision allows him to control his audience’s reactions and spoon feed them the emotions he wishes them to feel. That must surely be the disconcerting factor with this film. Because of the lack of structure and explanation the film is wobbly and uncoordinated, not very Hitchcock like at all. ‘It's fierce and Freudian as well as great cinematic fun, with ample fodder for the amateur psychologist following up on Hitch's tortuous involvement with his leading ladies’. Milne T., (2006) Tom Milne describes this film very succinctly. In another departure Hitchcock has a leading Lady. Strong willed, independent and aggressive in a way that Hitchcock’s actresses rarely are. Perhaps though, this is a device to enable a more complete destruction of Tippi Hedren’s character. She certainly receives the brunt of the assaults. I have often wondered how much respect Hitchcock had for women in general. They are often portrayed as vacant worriers, vacuous painted faces there to enhance their leading man. Hedren’s character is a departure from this and her sentence is handed down with vehemence and a brutality that shocks even today.

‘This masterpiece is one of Hitchcock's purest forays into cinema; it's such a complete piece that it even gets by with two mediocre actors’. Anderson J. M., (2006) Anderson writes of purest forays. He is perhaps correct when one considers the differences between this and other of his films. This lacks the Hitchcock solidity, making it a more unique experience than other of his films. It seems that Hitch took a chance here, how successfully I shall leave to his audience. However despite supernatural birds, some stiff performances and a general lack of direction this is still a striking piece of work. I dare any viewer to watch it without shooting a suspicious look skyward at our feathered friends. Perhaps this is the films greatest legacy, the confusion behind the attacks leaves a sense of unease unbroken after all these years. What made the birds attack, will they do so again?

Unit 4 Film Review: The Birds 1963. Dir., Alfred Hitchcock

Critic Bibliography Anderson J. M., (February 11, 2006). ‘Combustible Celluloid’, rottentomatoes.com Milne T., (June 24, 2006). ‘Time Out’, rottentomatoes.com Staff V., (September 21, 2007). ‘Variety’, rottentomatoes.com

Image List Poster Image: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1002448-birds/

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