Arguably Hitchcock's most interesting and suspense filled movie of his career, the Birds is an intriguing look into the way Hitchcock views women, and how nature can be just as scary as a knife wielding psychopath. With a premise that could rival B movies from the last couple of generations and inspired the wonderfully excellent Birdemic. "The only thing dated is the special effects. The suspense holds up very well."(Nash,2010) The Birds builds suspense from the opening scene, you are left forever wondering when the onslaught will begin and are left waiting for an incredible amount of time, as Nash points out the special effects are dated, yet still manage to strike a sense of fear into audiences.
The film is incredibly simple in terms of the outlining story. Another of Hitchcock's signature Blonde bombshells (played by Tippi Hedren) meets a man in a pet shop and then proceeds to follow him across the country in order to surprise him with a gift. All seems to be going well until the Birds start to attack. From here on its a survival movie at its core. With our cast of terrified actors trying to stave off the onslaught of killer Birds.
Figure 2: Melanie Daniels
For a movie about Birds this movie does seem to take its time in getting to the scenes where you actually experience any peril. The first half of the movie is more of a romance with the main character Melanie Daniels, tracking down a man she just met in a pet store and secretly delivering a pair of Love birds to his house, unnoticed. The attitude of this character is incredibly similar to the way we see another of Hitchcock's female characters. North by Northwest's Eve Kendall is incredibly forward with the main, male lead from the outset however both eventually develop into stronger characters. Kendall being revealed to be a double agent who can easily take care of herself and Daniels being an apathetic liar who will do anything to try and one up other people. It is not until later on in the movie when the Birds start to attack that we begin to see Daniels begin to develop into a more loving character, going out of her way to try and save people and children plus becoming quite close friends with a lady she had just met.
Figure 3: Melanie and Annie Hayworth
In terms of women in the film, Daniels may be one of the strongest characters, however she assists in proving one of theories about this movie. Some theorists and analysts believe that this movie is a "resounding warning about what happens when a flirty female tries to make a joke. women (a) are all about men and (b) can't get along because they're so busy pecking and squabbling over men".(Bidisha,2010) This is what makes the film a deeper subject then just purely looking at a bunch of people running in fear from Birds. It shows the relationships between woman and how they can be incredibly defensive and protective over people they know or used to love. It could also be seen as a reflection of the way that Hitchcock views women. As a group of jealous individuals who's lives revolve around men and by acting that way and pushing each other away they ultimately get the thrashing that they deserve. In this case from a group of psycho crows.
The main part of this movie, the huge variety of birds is what makes this movie the masterpiece that so many people believe it to be. This movie frightened thousands of people upon release due to hitch-cock's ability to take some thing so innocent and turn it into what is essentially a Zombie apocalypse type scenario."Alfred Hitchcock has fashioned a major work of cinematic art"(Sarris,2013). When Daniels is sitting outside the school is one of the most suspense filled and cinematic scenes I've seen in a long time. As the camera cuts from Daniels to the climbing frame, more and more crows begin to appear, until they eventually fill the park. Whilst this brought out a more then a few chuckles from my colleagues, there is something oddly powerful about that scene. It shows the threat that these creatures can pose and how they can increase in number incredibly quickly, much like Zombie's.
Figure 4: The Birds
In short the Birds is a deep look into the views of women from the acclaimed director and succeeds in turning a small innocent creature into something of nightmare proportions.
Bidisha (2010), Whats wrong with Hitchcock's women, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/21/alfred-hitchcock-women-psycho-the-birds-bidisha, The guardian
Andrew Sarris (2013) The Birth of the Voice, Films, http://www.villagevoice.com/2005-10-18/specials/the-birth-of-the-voice-1955-1965/5/, The village voice
Scott Nash (2010), The Birds Movie Review, http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review/birds, Three Movie Buffs.
Figure 1: The Birds Movie Poster 1963
Figure 2: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kara-nesvig/2014/01/what-your-beauty-icon-says-about-you/
Figure 3: http://eric.b.olsen.tripod.com/birds.html
Figure 4: http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3280968/the-birds-remake-soaring-once-again/