This week’s film is Hitchcock’s The Birds, the 1963 thriller.
Well, no introductions needed for Sir Alfred Hitchcock. The Birds is the project that the director worked on right after his most famous film, Psycho.
It is based on the 1952 story "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier and it was originally purchased for use on Alfred Hitchcock's television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
The story is set in Bodega Bay, California, where suddenly and for unexplained reasons, a series of widespread and violent bird attacks occur. Tippi Hedren stars in her first feature role, along with Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette and a young Veronica Cartwright.
Before watching the film, I figured that decades of watching horror movies with serial killers, dead Japanese girls and a whole other bunch of supernatural forces, would have made me insensible enough to watch a 1963 film where the enemy is a flock of birds. Little did I know.
Well, the film is as thrilling as it was back in the day - Hitchcock has done such a remarkable work in scaring the bejesus out of his viewers!
Adding to the suspense and the horror, the film has no musical score - just the sounds of the birds and the children singing in the school. Also, the film has no ending credits, to make the film (and the terror) non ending. Hitchcock even went more far than that: When audiences left the film's UK premiere at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London, they were greeted by the sound of screeching and flapping birds from loudspeakers hidden in the trees to scare them further. Yikes...
The film turned out to be rather terrifying not only to viewers, but also to the cast and crew. For instance, the schoolhouse, in Bodega Bay, California, has also been known to be haunted, even back during the filming. According to Tippi Hedren, the entire cast was spooked to be there. She also mentioned how she had the feeling, while there, that "the building was immensely populated... but there was nobody there." When Hitchcock was told about the schoolhouse being haunted, according to Hedren, he was even more encouraged to film there.
Also, the leading lady suffered a lot, especially during shooting of the scene of the attack in the bedroom. She was shooting that particular scene for almost a week and after finishing, she ended up in the hospital out of exhaustion and with many cuts…
Overall, the film is superb, with amazing direction, cinematography and –yes- special effects (for the time). It takes you by surprise, how easily you can get caught up in the suspense and the agony that the characters experience! No wonder why he got the title “The master of suspense”…
My Film Club
Week #4 was about a beautiful old Hollywood thriller. Week #5, will be featuring another thriller, that was actually released a year after The Birds, yet is so utterly different…
Next week’s film: Woman in the Dunes (Suna no Onna)
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....