Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Birds

Some days are duck soup, and some days you get nibbled to death by ducks. Thanks to D. for suggesting this film.

What a strange film this is - it could almost be called "Tippi Hedren's hair gets mussed", as the state of her coiffure is a recurring plot point, and her ultimate loss of poise the most dramatic incident in the film. The shrieking seagulls sound as if bags full of cats are being shaken around. The mother of the well-chinned hero looks just like Tippi, except in grey instead of green (get it?). There is no particular relief of tension at the end - the outline's of Stephen King's story the Mist is visible in this film, the idea of monsters visited on ordinary daylight life.

Of course, Stephen King is concerned with monsters, where Hitchcock seems to be about anxiety - people being trapped by their fears or lack of understanding. Any thoughts about this film?


Photo taken at Oakland's Lake Merritt

17 comments:

Gene said...

We just drove through Bodega Bay where most of that was filmed, and Bodega where the schoolhouse is on our way back from camping at Salt Point SP.

rlbourges said...

sorry for being so trivial but I really thought this Hitchcock was for the birds (I apologized, didn't I?)

The 1:40 version sums it up very well and your version is much scarier given the relative size of the protagonist and her attackers.

cheers, Susan.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Give me monsters any day, at least you can fight the f****rs,anxiety is a lingering turmoil of death.Great pic again,love the shadow.

ArtSparker said...

RLB -

Here's the thing. I want to dismiss it (the leads are complete cyphers, the birds are a bit unconvincing as attackers, it is an extreme version of Hitchcock at his most sadistic, on the level of repeatedly plunging a Barbie doll into a mud puddle. And yet there is something unsettling about it for me, where even as I feel irritated with its absurdity, I can't dismiss it.

ArtSparker said...

OOps, forgot a )

ArtSparker said...

TFE -

I'll go you one further, I believe that while Stephen King would be a delightful person to sit down and have a beer with, Sir Alfred, were he still with us, would SO not be.

notmassproduced said...

u r getting very brave!

ArtSparker said...

NMP-
Thank you, they weren't actually as big as they look.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

the most frightening film of my childhood! afterward my (so-called big) brother and his rowdy friends chased me home from the theater pretending to be birds and attack me -- I don't know what was (and still is) worse. I was 9 at the time, how odd that I am still haunted by this memory. I've never been able to watch the movie again, and don't really like scary movies. fortunately the event never prevented me from being a bird lover -- however, although I love my brother, I probably have never forgiven him - ha ha

swiss said...

i am very taken with these.

i agree about anxiety tho it seems, form my perspective anyway, very muc about the anxieties of its time and place. if it was amde where i live wouldn;t make any sense at all!

or it would look like shaun of the dead. with birds....

thnaks for stopping by.

Candace said...

I saw this again recently and really noticed that near-Oedipal weirdness between Jessica Tandy (Mother, who could do nothing) and Rod Taylor (Mitch)... I mean, uh ... having read some bios about Hitchcock and seeing a couple of interviews with Hedren about him, he was a type monster his own self.

Having been chased and "flogged" by a really angry rooster, I will take a Stephen King monster any old day.
Your work is really superb, and I am enjoying playing catch up.

Get more of what you love.
Candace in Athens.

femminismo said...

Oh, this Tippi is great! I love the skirt at exactly the right length, mid-knee, and the ducks. Her hair did play a big role, didn't it? And anxiety is terrible. I've endured it and know! When we came out of the theater from seeing "The Birds" it was dark and it had rained big drops, leaving marks on the pavement. We all looked up nervously, laughing at ourselves, but hurrying to the car. Whew!

Rick said...

I wonder if Du Maurier's story (which I confess I've never read) could shed some light on the "meaning" of the movie? I saw it on TV recently, and I still like it. I suspect that the birds are strongly connected to the female characters somehow, but I'm at a loss to explain this clearly.

King's "The Mist" seems clearly to have been influenced by "The Birds" (the movie). I might disagree in a general way that "King is concerned with monsters." In his very good exposition on horror, "Danse Macabre," King pretty much lays out his own blueprint: the monsters are merely manifestations of the real horrors we all face every day: paying the bills, is my wife/husband cheating?, etc.

Off topic, but in the same book King makes, I think, a very compelling argument for "horror" as a genre being the modern equivalent of classical "tragedy."

Rick said...

I should have mentioned this: what about "Cloverfield" re: "The Birds"? Forget about the Godzilla stuff for a moment...

ArtSparker said...

Rick -
Thank you for that extensive response. I have indeed been thinking about reading the DuMaurier story (you can tell that the ornithologist who happens into the diner has been lifted from ther original.

Actually, there was quite an interesting critical take I saw on the web comparing "The Birds" to a Greek tragedy. The writer also said that the birds were possibly a representation of Lydia's maternal driving away of the interloper.

I read Danse Macabre some years ago and enjoyed it very much. There is something about the way King presents the most horrific things in a way that is not disturbing, which is not the case with Hitchcock. I have a feeling very close to resentment about The Birds, and also about Vertigo, as if he is contemptuously showing us exactly how his tricks work even as he gets us to fall for them once again.

lettuce said...

ha. i like your alternate title.
the book (or is it a short story) I remember as much scarier.

Gene said...

And in a case of life imitating art, Joggers hurt in buzzard attacks.