The Birds (1963)

DVD Cover (Universal)
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Overall Rating 79%
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Ranked #818
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Genres / Traits: Horror Natural Horror Birds

Connections: The Birds

A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 29, 2007
What happens when a critically acclaimed director goes Hollywood? We've seen it time and time again - a director primarily known as a critical favorite decides to do a big budget picture and everything goes to hell. Recently, it happened with Neil LaBute. Primarily known for his status as a very controversial writer/director, he took on a remake of "The Wicker Man" and the experience was utterly miserable. However, with Hitchcock, it couldn't work the same way. Why? Because Hitchcock's films, though more artsy than others, were always mainstream. Everything he did was available to mass audiences. "The Birds", though his most mainstream film and certainly his most ambitious, just happened to be the film that cemented him as an icon.

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) travels to the small coastal town of Bodega Bay to track down a man named Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), a man she met in San Francisco. When she arrives, however, for some strange reason - birds begin attacking humans, and for no apparent reason. The entire town is thrust into chaos as everyone fight for survival. Mitch's mother, Lydia (Jessica Tandy) has a bizarre and complex dislike of Melanie, and the two women are at odds for a chunk of the piece. "The Birds" is probably Hitch's most adventurous film and it's difficult to bill it as a simple horror film when there's so much more at work here, as with most of his films. But, for all practical purposes, the plot line you need is: birds start attacking humans.

What makes "The Birds" uniquely Hitchcockian is both the character development and the filming style. There are so many relationships on display here, in classic Hitchcock style. The tension between Melanie and Lydia is visceral. The relationship between Melanie and her mother, once revealed, has great impact on she and her relationship with Mitch's daughter (Veronica Cartwright). Even Melanie and Mitch are an odd pair, considering the circumstances. There are echoes of some of his other films in those relationship, most recently "Psycho". As for the filming style, no one can create a mood and a sequence quite like Hitchcock. The most memorable here would have to be the schoolhouse sequence, with the jungle gym littered with birds as the teacher and children slowly head outside to seek more appropriate shelter. The sequence that follows is a perfect blend of Hitchcock's sense of horror and shock, and modern day special effects of the time.

When most people think of Hitchcock's best film, "Psycho" and "Vertigo" and "Rear Window" comes to mind. When most people think of his most entertaining, it's hard not to immediately think of "The Birds". It's a classic story of man versus nature, where nature seems to attack for no apparent reason. We're never really given a logical explanation for the birds to attack. We just known what we are seeing and we know they're a hell of a lot more powerful in numbers. "The Birds", sadly, was also Hitchcock's last mainstream success. He followed with five more films before his death, but each of the five seemed to be missing the same kind of spark that had made him such an icon for the twenty years previous. "The Birds" marks the end of an era. 10/10.
Chad #1: Chad - added 05/29/2007, 10:51 AM
Excellent movie, no doubts about it. Also, I'm probably one of the few people who really wishes that the "sequel" (actually more of a remake) would hit DVD sometime soon. Granted, it was nothing compared to the original, but it was still cheesy fun.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 05/29/2007, 10:22 PM
OK...yeah..."The Birds II: Land's End" was abysmal. It pissed all over the original. It's basically the same fucking movie, and they were actually trying to make a sequel. A made-for-television sequel to one of the greatest horror films ever made...that's a smart idea. Yes, you are the ONLY person waiting on this.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 05/29/2007, 10:38 PM
I dunno, if I saw it on the dish, I would definitely watch it. It's great to see an awful sequel to a great movie. Back to this one, great movie. One of my favourite Hitchcock films. 10/10
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