Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Birds

The Birds; Drama/ Horror, USA, 1963; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright

The daughter of a millionaire, Melanie, is constantly bored. In a bird store, she notices lawyer Mitch and decides to follow him to Bodega Bay in her car with two "lovebirds". Their potential relationship is disrupted, however, when birds suddenly start attacking the city's inhabitants. Hundreds of birds attack during a children's party and the highlight is when the students have to run away from school while followed by aggressive crows. Mitch saves Melanie and they hide in a house. When exiting, the birds suddenly return to normal and let them pass.

"The Birds" stayed remembered as a horror though it would be much more accurate to characterize it as an experimental film about nature gone wild, and thus in compliance with that it's slightly unjust that the most famous sequence remained the one where the crows quietly, slowly gather around on the playground behind Melanie's back, instead of the more dramatic one in which Mitch jokingly talks to her abut how he read in the newspapers that she was naked in a fountain in Rome. For the whole first hour, the movie is a quiet, almost romantic drama with many stand-out moments, especially the comical one where love struck Melanie secretly places lovebirds in Mitch's house, while in the second half the attack of the birds shows up, which can be interpreted the appearance of irrational hate (war, racism, prejudice...) that wrecks the idyllic state or as a reaction to the superficial nature of the characters. Directing birds and making them seem menacing was a tough task, but Alfred Hitchcock did it with ease which is why the suspense always seems plausible and haunts the human fear of the revenge of the polluted nature. Especially amusing are the dialogues which speculate how many billions of birds live in the US alone. The story is anamorphic and has flaws, but since Hitchcock is simply a master, then "The Birds" are also a valuable film.


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