Monday, May 12, 2008

The Birds

200px}}Image via Wikipedia
What better title could they have come up with for this scary movie than the simple and elegant "The Birds"?

The birds, indeed. They scared me half to death. I'm sure that's why my date (my first ever!) took me to see it. He knew the fear factor would ensure that I would clutch his arm all night long. And I did.

When I saw the movie years later on television, the passage of time, the smaller screen and the fact that I was no longer on my first date with a boy made me see the film with new eyes. It was still scary, but it also had laughs I didn't see before. But I don't think the laughs were intended by Hitchcock; they came from sloppy editing and direction, not because the scriptwriter had written them in.

My favorite bit of editing strangeness came when the character of Melanie, played ably by Melanie Griffith's mother Tippi Hedren, was watching the gas station fire. I'm not sure what Hitchcock was going for, but there were several quick cuts of Hedren in states of frozen and very phony-looking terror. It looked like Hitchcock said, "okay, now look scared," and didn't tell her where to focus her eyes or what she was supposed to be looking at. The results are comical, in an uncomfortable sort of way.

But that's a niggling point, because the definitely movie succeeds at scaring. Apparently it frightened Tippi too. After shooting the final scene in which she was attacked by the birds, she said it was "the worst week of my life." I guess it must have been because they shut down the set for a week to allow her to recuperate. It's interesting and a little ironic that she's such a strong animal activist now. Maybe her experience on the film caused her to want to keep a closer eye on the animal kingdom -- just in case.


Pat said...

Hi - welcome to the LAMB.

Your blog is great. I love that you write about movies from such a personal perspective.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Lamb.

I dont' think Tippi was the greatest actress in the world ... her daughter is much better, imho.

Nice post.

Ibetolis said...

Welcome to the Lamb

Great blog. I like the kind of films you write about.

I saw the birds at the age of 8 and it haunted me for weeks. Catch it at least once a year now, can't get enough of that film.

Gina Faust said...

@ Pat: Thanks for the welcome! Sometimes I wonder if my writing is too personal; I'm glad to know my perspective is appreciated.

@ Rick: You're right about Tippi. And since we're being honest, I think Alfred Hitchcock is overrated. There, I said it!

Thanks for the welcome and for stopping by.

@ ibetolis: Thanks for the welcome. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has The Birds stuck their craw. (Sorry!) I love the movie, too, in spite of its flaws.

Memphis Mimi said...

Alfred Hitchcock was always one of my favorite TV shows. Remember that?
...and Twilight Zone. I wonder if the Birds was not an early commentary on how nature is responding to what we are doing to the environment.

I have enjoyed reading your posts Gina.

Gina Faust said...

Mimi: I'm still a big fan of The Twilight Zone!

And you're right about The Birds being social commentary. Hitchcock might not have meant it that way, but it could certainly be interpreted as such.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tony Tanti said...

Great review. I love this movie. I've only seen this one and Vertigo and I loved them both, I have no idea why I haven't gotten around to watching all of Hitchcock's movies.

Gina Faust said...

Tony: I haven't seen all of Hitchcock's movies either. Some day!