The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock

“…and remember, the next scream you hear may be your own !! ” – Alfred Hitchcock.

The Birds

You might have come across the news that Kandasamy masks will be issued to the kids who come to theatre. Don’t think it’s a new n great marketing idea or a brand new publicity stunt. No. Not at all. Cinema industry had much more veterans than our Kalaipuli in the past, too. In 1963, as part of the movie promotional scheme, ‘The Birds’ promoters [ Universal studios ] issued bird masks to the public who viewed the film in theatres. Some Tamil film producers can also do the same to ask the audience to wear bird masks ‘ Come and watch the movie without brains ‘ 🙂
What do you think that can horrify the viewer ? Serial killing, Haunting Bungalow, shady looks, horror music, howling dogs or wolves ? That’s the conventional way of horrifying. Our master director Alfred Hitchcock, didn’t think conventionally and just used sparrows, crows, seagulls and their silence ! Not the animated or enlarged kind of birds. Just ‘The Birds’.
If you still wonder n ask ‘ What great damage birds can cause other than pecking or poking ?’, pls watch this movie in the late night [ strictly ]. The original form was a short story named ‘the birds’ written by Daphne maurier.
The Birds [ 1963 / Suspense ]
Produced/Directed : Alfred Hitchcock
Script : Evan Hunter
Cast : Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Sparrows, Crows, Seagulls 🙂
The story begins with young Melanie meeting a lawyer Mitch Brenner in a pet shop. Mitch looks for a pair of love birds and Melanie pretends like a sales girl in the shop. After that, Melanie buy lovebirds and decides to gift the same to Mitch; she gets his address and find his place in the island “Bodega bay”. She doesn’t meet him there and leave the birds in his home. While returning in boat, she encounters a strange attack by a seagull. Mitch helps her and takes her home, where he lives with his possessive mother Lydia and sister Cathy.
Strange incidents start to happen in the island. Swarm of birds attack the children in a birthday party; birds kill chicken farmer; birds disturb the school children etc., People from the island are extremely frightened and start leaving to SFO. Mitch, Melanie and others stay locked in the house and the birds find the new way to get into the home to attack. No one know when the birds attack and when they remain silent. What happens then is the climax.
The Bond movies always have a short action sequence before the title credits roll on and then the actual story begins. Hitchcock uses the reversal theory. His story never gets into the problem directly. Instead, he takes the time for audience to think about something else and present a different side of the story. Like, in Psycho, the story starts with a working girl stealing his boss’s money [ $ 40k ] and galloping. But the actual happening was even more worse than the audience could think of. I noticed this technique playfully and later found that there’s a term defined for this “Macguffin“. MacGuffin is something that the story line is built upon, but it has no significant purpose.
Similarly, ‘The Birds’ start with a romantic encounter of Melanie and Mitch in a pet shop. She travels to Bodega bay, finds his previous lover and his family etc., All of them are just forming a platform for the actual movie. The story travels on its own flow [ may be first 40 mins ] until Melanie first come across a bird attack in the island. What happens then cannot be explained in text. That’s the mastery of Hitchcock.
The beauty of this film is there is no background music for this suspense thriller. That’s the height of creativity/confidence, a director can hold. Instead, the role of sound is extraordinary in this film. The use of sound and sound effects consciously changes between heavy noises and dead silences. The effective usage of silence makes the audience more terrifying than the actual attack. The ultimate result was the viewer is frightened not only during the attack but even when nothing happens. The best scene is to get the local school children to come out of the school, where 100s of birds slowly gather one by one and sit on a stand outside the school [ with this school song “ristle-tee rostle-tee” in the background ]. The other intersting shot was the bird’s view of the town in chaos.
The mother character was beautifully portrayed for her possessiveness over any girlfriend of her son [ உல‌க‌ளாவிய‌ பிர‌ச்னை போலிருக்கு 🙂 ]. The psychological friction was also portrayed well.
In 2007, there was a news that somebody plans to remake this film with Naomi watts [ “The painted veil” heroine – Have you seen her in “21 grams” ?! ]. The heroine of this film [ Tippi Hedren ] asked this question in an interview, out of frustration – “Why would you do that? Why? I mean, can’t we find new stories, new things to do?”. I second and value her opinion. Some things can’t be remade again- just like Hitchcock works. This movie is the grandpa for the movies that had animal attack as the theme [ Jaws ].
Hitchcock’s films happen to be timeless wonders and they were filmed ahead of their time. I wish I could see all the Alfred Hitchcock series in Sathyam or PVR kind of theatre.

B : காக்கை குருவி எங்க‌ள் ஜாதி – நீள் கடலும் மலையும் எங்கள் கூட்டம்.
H : அங்க‌ வேண்ணா அப்ப‌டி இருக்க‌லாங்க‌. இந்த‌ ப‌ட‌ம் பார்த்திருந்தா அப்ப‌டி பாடி இருக்க‌ மாட்டீங்க‌ ஸார் !


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