Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Cutting Edge Film Programme: The Birds (1963)

Figure 1: Movie Poster [Still Image]
The Birds (1963) is a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is a film that has been categorised under the suspense and horror genre.  This film is loosely based on a short story written by Daphne du Maurier. It is a story about a perfect woman from the city whose life becomes chaotic and messed up when she comes to stay in a rural seaside town. Daniels presence in Bodega Bay is simply to play a prank on a smart ass lawyer but instead, her perfect hairdo knocked into her face by a passing gull. Not long after, the birds are everywhere, occupying any available space. In their attack, the birds destroyed numerous windowpanes and continuous peck on the door could be heard. The film has an opening ending where Daniels, the Brenners and the lovebirds slowly leaving the town, heading for the hospital. Tens and thousands of birds are seen loitering around, perched. However, they stayed put and did not charge an attack.

Figure 2 : Birds Gathered At The Courtyard [Still Image]
The subject of a series of widespread and viscous birds attacking the town over the course of a few days is sudden and unexplainable. A film about of having ten and thousands of birds attacking a town may not be interesting but give this idea to Hitchcock, he made a masterpiece. As Kermode writes in her review, “The Birds is a textbook exercise in taking a simple story and creating a devastating film. These days the special effects may look shoddy and some of the complexities of character and period may be lost on younger viewers, but it's still a powerful film.” (Kermode, 2009)

Figure 3 : Birds' Point Of View As They Attack The Town [Still Image]
Just like Psycho(1960), the sounds in The Birds are brilliantly composed. An example would be how the mono track controls your hearing senses with the way the bird noises are presented and the beating of wings as the birds fill the Brenner's household. Additionally, in a scene where Melanie walks slowly as she passes the crows on the playground and making her way to Annie's house is another example of how great this audio mix sounds. No cawing from the birds except for the abundance of disturbing clicking of beaks. The mix has been able to perfectly capture and relay the discomforting sound. As Peck highlights in his review, “This mono track is quite impressive when it comes to conveying the fear and terror of deadly flocks of birds. It truly showcases the way this movie should sound." (Peck, 2012)

In addition to that, an emotion that Hitchcock tries to portray in this film is how the birds feel when they are being caged.  Their freedom has been compromised and this also restricts their movement in the confined space. Likewise, in one of the scenes, he had Daniels seek refuge in a phone booth. This left her caged in a place where she cannot leave to find help.

Figure 4 : Melanie Seeks Shelter In A Phonebooth[Still Image]
In conclusion, this film covered all aspects of a great filmography really well. Both the exceptional visuals and sounds are the contributing factors of what makes it a masterpiece. This can be supported with Smithey’s statement when he states “Endlessly watchable, "The Birds" is a masterpiece that can be read on many levels, providing insight into every aspect of modern filmmaking and dramaturgy." (Smithey, 2009)

List of Illustrations:

Figure 1 The Birds(1963) [Poster] at (Accessed on 29 January 2014)

Figure 2 Birds Gathered At The Courtyard (1963) [Still Image] at (Accessed on 29 January 2014)

Figure 3 Birds' Point Of View As They Attack The Town (1963) [Still Image] at (Accessed on 29 January 2014)

Figure 4 Melanie Seeks Shelter In A Phonebooth (1963) [Still Image] at (Accessed on 29 January 2014)

List of Bibliography:

Kermode, Jennie (2009) The Birds (1963) Film Review At: (Accessed on 29 January 2014)

Peck, Aaron (2012) Alfred Hitchcock: Masterpiece Collection - The Birds At: (Accessed on 29 January 2014)

Smithey, Cole (2009) The Birds - Classic Film Pick At (Accessed on 29 January 2014)


  1. Hi Ayunie!

    Just a couple of points really - firstly, make sure that you fully introduce the character before talking about the moment, it is a little confusing to your reader, as you refer to the leading lady just as 'Daniels' to begin with, and then later refer to her as 'Melanie'. There is no way of linking these two names together, and if you didn't know already, you might think they were two separate characters.

    Your sentence 'The film has an opening ending where Daniels, the Brenners and the lovebirds slowly leaving the town, heading for the hospital.' I think could have gone later in the text, as it is a sort of conclusion... also, 'opening ending' is a little confusing; I think you meant, 'an open ending.'

    Good discussion around the use of the phone box to give the feeling of being caged like a bird :)

    1. Hi Jackie, noted on the points given :) Will be more thorough when I Introduce the characters and sentence structure in my next review.