Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Birds, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1963

This review is analysing the uniqueness of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie – “The Birds”. Just like in all other of his movies Hitchcock surprises with his own style of film making. This review is based on Bill Thompson’s review from “Bill's Movie Emporium”, Brian Webster’s review from “Apollo Movie Guides” and Emma Hutchings’s review from


The Birds is a 1963 suspense horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock based on the 1952 novella The Birds by Daphne du Maurier. It depicts Bodega Bay, California which is, suddenly and for unexplained reasons, the subject of a series of widespread and violent bird attacks over the course of a few days. Like Psycho, The Birds has a lengthy preamble, where Hitchcock involves one in the unrelated day-to-day happenings of its characters before switching tracks to the main story. One is drawn into the silly, petty prank that Tippi Hedren plays on Rod Taylor and her sudden desire to follow him to Bodega Bay – another of Hitchcock’s characteristic long pursuit sequences – but, as in Psycho and the long preamble involving Janet Leigh’s theft of the money and flight to the motel, this is only extended prologue to the main story. Hitchcock was actually playing with audience’s expectations on this film. As Bill Thompson once has said: “The Birds functions as a standard horror film, so that leaves the audience looking for more, because it is Hitchcock after all”. (March 21, 2009, Bill’s Movie Emporium) The casting of Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor is an admirable pairing – both play off each other with a sly, mocking charm.


“The Birds is an effective horror movie, although in typical Hitchcock style, there is far more scary anticipation than actual gore” – states Brian Webster in the “Apollo Movie Guides” (date of publishing is unknown). In fact there is not a single scene which makes audience to think about horrible situations that main characters gets into. The bird attacks are mounted with superb artistry in the same clipped, droll and immaculately staged style we have come to know from Hitchcock. There is a terrifying sequence with Tippi Hedren trapped inside a phone-booth where Hitchcock places the camera inside the booth sharing the claustrophobia of the assault. The same claustrophobic feeling is easily noticed in the scene when they are trapped in they’re own house. Playing with that kind of fear is especially well done in those parts.


All in all Hitchcock described the message of “The Birds” as “too much complacency in the world: that people are unaware that catastrophe surrounds us all”. Its everyday scenario scared audiences then and is still effective today. This is another “must to see movie” and Emma Hutchings just proves that by saying: “The interactions between the characters, the moments of tension and terror, the ominous atmosphere and the threat of something ordinary suddenly becoming something sinister, all add up to make this a classic film”. (28 October 2010,


1.Bill Thompson

2. Brian Webster

3. Emma Hutchings


Figure1 - The last tension scene
Figure2 - The phone-booth scene
Figure3 - Hitchcock and "The Birds"

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