Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Birds: Review

The Birds

[1]The Birds, (1963)

"The Birds" is a Horror/Thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Rod Taylor (as Mitch Brenner), Tippi Hedren (as Melanie Daniels) and Jessica Tandy (as Lydia Brenner)

[2]Mitch Brenner surrounded by birds, (1963)

The Birds is, for the most part, quite a horrific film. Trying to imagine one self in the same position Brenner and his family are in, having to live through the same experience and suffer the same consequences with no warning at all, is quite horrendous. By looking at the film in a different light however, similar to the way Scheib describes, it can become quite hilarious. The fact that this girl called Melanie Daniels has come to town unexpectedly, and now suddenly the place has been taken over by birds of different kinds is amusing. The amusement is born from the confusion everyone (including the audience) is facing. The most important thing overall is that this puzzling story with crazy birds is what makes The Birds what it is, without the bird factor there is no conflict, and without conflict there would potentially be no film because everyone will just live happily ever after (which doesnt happen in the majority of horrors).

[3]Melanie at the bar, (1963)

As well as a puzzling story, the film also has a lot of prolonged scenes of people just looking at eachother or something in the distance. Now, there is a difference between it being a reasonably prolonged shot, and when the shot is just noticably too long for no apparent reason (which woud be classed as unprofessional nowadays). An example of a shot "over done" would be when the teacher (Annie Hayworth) is shutting the doors at the birthday party after getting all the children inside; 2 kids poke their heads around each of Hayworths thighs and stare into the sky for a good 5-7 seconds. There is no justification for this as it doesnt lead us anywhere and the children dont even have any lines at that point, the scene just simply fades out into the next.

Another oddity of this film is the birds sometime-ish behaviour. From early on we see that the birds of Bodega Bay are more ferocious then in other areas, starting with a seagull's solo attack on Melanie to get the ball rolling (and to act as a warning) followed by bigger more planned attacks by gangs of birds as the film goes on. On the odd occasion however, the birds will just sit and watch as Melanie just walks right by. This is evidently done to build suspense, because Hitchcock has cleverly decided to show some mercy in the scenes the audience is more likely to expect an attack to occur, but at the same time it makes the film a bit silly. Yes seagull's, crows and raven's all have minds of their own, but surely they are more likely to strike their prey when its out in the open and not barricaded inside a house with layers of wood nailed to each and every opening...come on now!

[4]Mitch barricading door, (1963)

In terms of the actual story I agree with Warren's statement, and feel the emphasis of the birds overshadow the story of Melanie Daniels. The film is good, but not that good compared to Hitchcock's other films like Psycho for instance. The fact that Daniels indeed isn't likable also puts towards the point that its hard to make a connection with her as an audience. The detrimental effect of this is that we do not grasp the whole concept of why this havoc is taking place as well as we should. However, the film isn't all that bad and is worth a watch.

Illustration List:

[1] Alfred Hitchcock (1963), The Birds [electronic print] Available at:

[2] Alfred Hitchcock (1963), Mitch Brenner surrounded by birds [electronic print] Available at:

[3] Alfred Hitchcock (1963), Melanie at the bar [electronic print] Available at:

[4] Alfred Hitchcock (1963), Mitch barricading door [electronic print] Available at:


[1] Scheib, Richard (1999-2011), The Birds In: [online] Available at:

[2] Scheib, Richard (1999-2011), The Birds In: [online] Available at:

[3] Sponseller, Brandt (2001), The Birds (1963) In: [online] Available at:

[4] Warren, Bill (March 28, 2000), Birds, The (Collector's Edition) In: Audio Video Revolution [online] Available at:

No comments:

Post a Comment