Watch out for the birds! — 2 years ago
The Birds is a classic Alfred Hitchcock film, released in 1963 and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Daphne du Maurier (Hitchcock had also adapted Rebecca and Jamaica Inn by the same author). It was also inspired by a story Hitchcock read in a Santa Cruz newspaper: “Seabird Invasion Hits Coastal Homes”.
The film tells the story of Melanie Daniels (played by Tippi Hedren, who went on to star in Marnie) who follows a man she’s just met (Rod Taylor) to his home in Bodega Bay, a coastal town – quite a forward thing to do at that time, I thought! During her stay, she gets rather more than she bargained for as the town is repeatedly attacked by birds, seemingly for no reason at all…
The film opens in a very lighthearted way, with Melanie browsing in a pet store that sells small birds, in a sunny city that reminded me of the opening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The sweet little birds foreshadow the rather more frightening birds that appear later on! The film develops slowly, with minor bird dramas developing into full-blown attacks including the famous scene with rows of birds silently gathering on the climbing frame outside the school. The bird attacks are cleverly done and the special effects impressive for the time, although it is certainly possible to tell that some of them are fake.
The film as a whole is tense and eerie, particularly the moments of silence in between attacks that make you think the birds are planning and plotting. Hitchcock wasn’t known as the ‘Master of Suspense’ for nothing and the film is genuinely frightening and builds up the tension very well. What is even more chilling is that the events described happen in such an ordinary town – if it could happen there it could happen anywhere!
The ending is very memorable although rather abrupt – with my DVD (part of the 15-disc Hitchcock Collection) a storyboarded alternative ending is included which in my opinion would probably have been better, offering a slightly greater sense of closure.
The film is rated 15, which is understandable as there are a couple of gory bits, however these are nothing compared to today’s films given a 15 certificate and I’m sure slightly younger teens and children would be fine with the film.
Overall The Birds is a great film and a Hitchcock classic, well worth a watch (and the du Maurier short story is pretty good too!).