The Birds (1963) Film Review
Mitchell 'Mitch' Brenner
About the film
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
Director: Alfred Hitchock
Running time: 1 hr 59 mins
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Horror
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
About the film
This film is based on the book of the same name written by Daphne du Maurier. Melanie is a rich socialite who is in San Francisco. She is in a bird shop wanting to purchase a bird when lawyer Mitch walks in. He mistakenly thinks she's a saleswoman and tries to buy 2 love birds from her. In reality, he knows who she is. He had previously seen her in court and knows how she loves to play pranks. He's really flirting with her. She eventually gets to know Mitch and his family - she even befriends his ex girlfriend, Annie. When she spends the night round Annie's, she hears a thud and notices a seagull had killed itself flying into the front door.
It is soon after this that a flock of ravens gets into the Brenner household through the chimney. It is then the seagulls attack. The town can't understand what is going on as the gulls start attacking people and even killing them. Now that the town is flooded with seagulls and ravens, how does the townsfolk deal with these creatures? It is a mystery as to why these birds have descended on the town and starting attacking people. To add further to the mysterious arrival, crows are also amongst the birds terrifying and maiming people.
The film runs for about 45 minutes before we get to any actual horror bits. I think this is deliberate to build the suspense and get a sense of the story. How will the towns people cope with all these birds?
I've watched this film several times over the years, but still enjoy watching it. Alfred Hitchock was a genius when it comes to making films, and The Birds is by no means any exception. You can understand why people have such a fear of birds. Why the birds have come to this small, sleepy town, is bewildering. But there they are. With Melanie's arrival in the town, so did the birds it seems. One woman even blames her for the flock arriving.
There are scenes which are truly horrid to see, especially when you see the birds attacking people. Even more scary, they can, and do, kill. The way the film is shot is cleverly done with close up shots of the seagulls and all the crows sitting on the telephone wires. What I like about this film is you've got the romantic side of the story with the love interest between Melanie and Mitch. Plus the horror element with the birds, and people trying to protect themselves from these creatures. I wonder what people thought when Hitchock first came up with the idea of making a film of the book? Making a film of killer birds must have seems ridiculous at the time. But with a name like Alfred Hitchcock behind it, you can more or less guarantee that the film will be a winner.
The actors who play Melanie and Mitch work well together, and their on screen chemistry can be seen throughout the film. I like the idea of 2 people, who seem worlds apart, to grow fond of each other. As I said, for the first 45 minutes or so, there's no real horror element to the film. But once it does start, it comes in leaps and bounds. It can send chills down your spine just watching how these birds attack. There is no music as such in the film, and none is needed. With a lot of films music helps to set the scene and lure people into the dark and scary side of the film. But I think with this film, it is so well shot that just by watching it can make your hairs stand up on end.
As to why the birds suddenly descended upon the town is never revealed. But for Hitchocks 49th film, this will most certainly give people the creeps, even after all these years.
The Birds Film Trailer
© 2018 Louise Powles