Saturday, 4 March 2017

Film Review - The Birds

The Birds is a 1963 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film follows Melanie Daniels who, after meeting a lawyer that pulls a prank on her, follows him to a small town called Bodega Bay in order to prank him back, its only after she arrives that the small town begins to get attacked by birds.

Image 1, Movie Poster

Melanie Daniels is shown to be a confident woman, who comes from a rich background and is used to getting what she wants. She begins the film as someone who enjoys pulling pranks on people and as someone with a great deal of confidence in herself and her ability to attract males. She uses a pair of lovebirds in her prank, bringing them into bodega bay to give to the lawyer and then not long after the birds began to attack as if 'The entire bird world, chagrined to be the pawn in a devious woman's game, gets its revenge.' (Bidisha, 2010). Then as the film progresses Hitchcock puts her through increasingly violent situations that by the end of the film leave her a shell of her former self.

Image 2, Melanie
The reasons for the birds attacking is never explained, leaving both the viewers and the characters with no clue why the birds attack. One proposed reason for the birds attack is that of  'the hysterical woman who links the attacks to Daniels' arrival ("I think you're the cause of all of this"). This implies that the birds are a manifestation of sex, some galvanic hormonal storm that whisks sleepy Bodega Bay into a great communal lather.' (Brooks, 2012). Another theory being that of 'an eruption of rage. The film's first act, after all, is an uncomfortable buildup of tension (both sexual and social), an 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). As such the moment the birds first start attacking is the moment things begin to fall apart for Melanie as she is then placed in the midst of bird attack after bird attack until the moment she breaks.

Image 3, Melanie attacked by birds.
The film has no music, using only diegetic sounds such as the birds themselves flapping and cawing. 'Instead of relying on Herrmann’s music to heighten and embellish the drama and the horror, he uses Herrmann’s sense of dynamics to program in a constant gushing of strangely affecting diegetic sound.' (Scovell, 2014). The lack of a musical soundtrack meant the diegetic sounds of the film were much more apparent and easier to hear, as such 'the absence of a score renders the horror more immediate: Hitch's long-time composer Bernard Herrmann fashioned an eerie soundtrack from caws, strident screeches and rustling wings.' (Sooke, 1963).


Image 1, Movie Poster -

Image 2, Melanie -

Image 3, Melanie attacked by birds -


Bidisha, What's wrong with Hitchcock's Women, 2010 -

Brooks, X, My favourite Hitchcock: The Birds, 2012 -

Scovell, A, Sounds of the Birds, (2014) -

Sooke, A, The Birds, review: Disturbing, (1963) -

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