The Birds

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1963, ca.120 min. Anamorphic widescreen. Too scary for children.
The Birds

Isn't it funny that few people have not heard of The Birds, and yet fewer would vote it one of Hitchcock's best? Perhaps the reason is that more than any other Hitchcock film, The Birds leaves the viewer with the very unsettling feeling of a nightmare without end.

The basic story of a beautiful, spoiled socialite chasing after her beau to small-town (and fictitious) Bodega Bay seems insignificant to the film. Even the underlying message of the mass revolt of nature, as symbolized by birds against man, seems insignificant. In the end, it is the experience of going through the nightmarish bird attacks that will haunt us forever. Hitchcock unceremoniously throws the audience in with the unfortunate lot of the characters. We were scratched, bitten, terrorized right alongside Tippi Hedren.

With this anamorphic widescreen DVD which included a most educational "Making Of," we are finally in a position to give this cinematic masterpiece its dues. The church and schoolhouse of idyllic Bodega stills looks the same today as in the film, but everything else was sheer fabrication from post-production magic in the studio. Matte painting and other pre-CGI special effects, from Tippi Hedren sailing across Bodega Bay to the horrendous attack outside the schoolhouse, withstood the test of time magnificently. But of course the true star was the birds, seemingly thousands of them, real, mechanical, or just dummies. The electronic sound effects - among the most terrifying on film - were a giant step forward from the pioneering efforts in Forbidden Planets. The 2000 DVD mastering has a slightly grainy picture. Ease off your sharpness control and you'll be rewarded with gorgeous 60s imagery, and a film for all seasons! Highest recommendation.


The Birds was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

Posted by:
Franklin Lei
Nov 17, 2007 5:02pm
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