"The Birds" 1963 Alfred Hitchcock
“The Birds” is a thriller horror film that was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starred Rod Taylor, and Tippi Hedren, filmed in a coastal town in Northern California. As the film started, viewers immediately notice that the bird chirp sound effects are louder than the actors’ voices. This was most likely done to give viewers anticipation that there is something significant about birds in this movie. Once the scene was set up for the viewers, Taylor and Hedren who played as Mitch and Melanie, created a love affair. Melanie went to Mitch’s mom’s house to deliver his sister love birds. Melanie ended up staying longer than expected and started to realize something weird was happening with the birds in that town.
Alfred Hitchcock is known to create horror films with animals that are unlikely to attack in the real world, and this film stunned viewers of how unrealistic those scenarios can be where birds attack humans, break through chimneys, peck at windows or wood to break into homes, specifically Mitch’s mom’s home. In one of the last scenes, birds swarmed the home and eventually broke into the attic where they would ambush Melanie. The ambush scene was very discomforting for Hedren because she has not acted in a film before. This was one of her worst weeks of her career where she was misinformed that the birds were real when the crew filmed that attic scene. As a result of the misinformation, she ended up requiring medical attention.
Hitchcock hired Hedren by watching her on a TV commercial and then offered her a contract to play Melanie. From that point on, her initial experience with Hitchcock became toxic, where the filmmaker almost had a high obsession towards her and was often sexually harassed and abused by Hitchcock and his crew especially in the last scene when she was attacked in the attic. This shows that Hitchcock does not respect his actors and allows his emotions to get the best of him resulting in unethical behavior.
In another scene, Melanie went to the schoolhouse to pick up Mitch’s sister and noticed the birds sitting outside. When Melanie heard the teacher announced when they were going to go outside, Melanie interfered and told the teacher to evacuate the children out of the building. Surprisingly, the school building in real life was said to be haunted and the cast felt very frightened and spooked during the filming of that scene. As a result of the schoolhouse scene, viewers, and film critics state that scene offered intense emotions and fear towards the audience and that was a signature use of Hitchcock use of storyboards. This was a unique tactic for Hitchcock to use showing genuine fear to fit the mood of the film.
The ending of this film was omitted intentionally for viewers to envision their own ending because from the ending, viewers may say different things of what happened to everyone who evacuated Mitch’s mom’s house. At the end of the film, birds were trying to kill everyone in Mitch’s home and little by little, everyone was able to get away and go forward. The ending was just a shot of the car driving along the coastline with those birds chirping and eerily calm.
This film become one of Hitchcock’s controversial films because the crew mistreated Hedren for shooting the same scene for seven days where she was continuously attacked by the birds. It is unsettling to hear that the ASPCA was on site to supervise that no bird would be injured and killed, whereas Hendren was not protected by anyone and was allowed to be abused.