Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Birds (1963) Film Review Alfred Hitchcock

The Birds (1963) Film Review Alfred Hitchcock

Figure 1

The Birds is a suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1963. The story follows a young women as she travels to Bodega Bay in the pursuit of a man she encountered in San Francisco. As the film progresses more and more strange bird attacks are inflicted on the small fishing town. 
In the entirety of this film, Hitchcock doesn't once give an explanation for the attacks by the birds. There are many scenes of characters debating and arguing for a reason behind the attacks but we are never given a definitive answer. This perhaps was to put us in the shoes of the film characters and throw the audience into the nightmare scenario. We know as much or as little as the characters know thus making us ask the same questions as to why the birds are attacking. This therefore makes the film scarier as a large fear for the public is the fear of the unknown. Glasby explains "No explanations are offered, though critics theorise that the spoiled, sexually forward Melanie is somehow to blame." (Glasby, 2013). After watching the film, the audience are then left theorizing about an explanation for the film. Many believe that the attacks represent the jealousy and competition between the lead female characters for the strong confident male. 

Figure 2

Another method Hitchcock used to put the audience into the scenario of the film is to have no soundtrack.  "The film's non-existent musical score is replaced by an electronic soundtrack...Hitchcock introduced a fascinating new personality for the film" (Unknown, s.d.). The reason why this puts into the scenario of the film is that life doesn't come with a musical soundtrack, only natural sounds. So by not including a musical score in the film the flapping and fluttering and the squawks of the birds become ever more intensified. The intensity of the bird sounds can especially be seen in the opening credits of the film. We find ourselves watching and hearing around 2 minutes of constant fluttering of birds and very soon this sound makes even watching the start of the film very uncomfortable and on edge.  

Figure 3

Once again Hitchcock creates another tension filled suspense film as wait constantly for the next attack on an unsuspecting victim. One scene in particular that masters this suspense is one showing Melanie, our female lead, quietly and peacefully having a cigarette whilst a a flock of large crows slowly builds up on a climbing frame behind her. "The suspense of not knowing if or when they will attack is the really scary part.  A single crow isn't scary, but a flock of thousands all around you, watching your every move, can be terrifying." (Nash, 2010). This suspense is created by including no dialogue and constinually cutting between shots of Melanie and the ever growing flock. Hitchcock then tortures the audience by not giving the attack the they were waiting for for so long. You find yourself becoming ever more like you're watching a pantomime, constantly wanting to shout "It's behind you!". 

Figure 4


Glasby, M (2013) Hitch establishes a new pecking order… http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/blu-ray/the-birds-50th-anniversary-edition  (Accessed on 04/02/14) 

Nash, S (2010) The Birds Film Review http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review/birds (Accessed on 04/02/14) 

Unknown, (s.d.) The Birds (1963) Film Review http://www.filmsite.org/bird.html (Accessed on 04/02/14) 


Figure 1, The Birds (1963) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Poster] USA, Universal Pictures, http://coreyholms.com/portfolio/72/the_birds.jpg (Accessed on 04/02/14) 

Figure 2, The Birds (1963) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Universal Pictures, http://www.fact.co.uk/media/3623555/The%20Birds%202.jpg (Accessed on 04/02/14) 

Figure 3, The Birds (1963) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Universal Pictures, http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02105/the-birds_2105331i.jpg (Accessed on 04/02/14) 

Figure 4, The Birds (1963) Alfred Hitchcock [Film Still] USA, Universal Pictures, http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KpES1o8Foxc/TzsXHJcb6_I/AAAAAAAAAZA/pzkQqNMGs8A/s1600/birds_shot4l.jpg (Accessed on 04/02/14)  


1 comment:

  1. Hi Will,

    Just a couple of points regarding this review...firstly, make sure that you remember to italicise the film name - especially important when the name is also a noun, as it is in the title. Otherwise you can end up with some very odd-sounding sentences! :)

    Make sure that you refer to your images within the text, and that they are relevant to your discussion...so for example, you could have said
    '... Melanie, our female lead, quietly and peacefully having a cigarette whilst a flock of large crows slowly builds up on a climbing frame behind her (Fig 4).'

    Figure 2 seems a bit random; what were you trying to show with this image?

    In your bibliography, be careful of using sources where you do not know any of the author's information or the date, as these can tend to be unreliable and/or unacademic. In this case however, a quick look at your reference shows me that Filmsite is written and edited by Tim Dirks, so that would have been the name to use there :)