Monday, July 13, 2009

The Birds Discussion: Summer of Hitchcock

Summer of Hitchcock

The Birds Movie PosterThe Birds is loosely based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier, of the same title. If you haven't read the short story, I highly recommend it, it's absolutely fantastic. Much more terrifying than the film. The only things the short story and film seem to have in common is the basic idea that the birds have gone crazy, gathered in huge amounts, and are attacking the humans.

Now the short story is exactly that....short. So I suspect when writing a screenplay they felt it necessary to add some of the usual suspects, a love story, a new set of characters we were meant to feel for. Unfortunately, at least for those of us who tweeted through the movie on Friday, we didn't feel anything for the characters and the set-up felt unrealistic and almost annoying.

I've been thinking about this and I think part of the problem is that the movie is very long...two hours. And with the added dimension of these characters there's just not enough tension. In the short story, there's almost no relief from the constant feeling of the birds pecking and the swishing of wings. Their attack feels constant, terrifying, unavoidable. It's everywhere and has affected the entire nation, maybe even world, as opposed to just one small town.

In any case, I have to admit to feeling bored during the film. This movie really scared me when I was little, especially the scene when they find the old man with his eyes pecked out, but I'm not sure this one has withstood the test of time quite as well. I had a hard time feeling sympathy for the characters.

I've long been hearing there will be a remake of The Birds, but I have no idea if it's moved forward. I would be interested in a version of the film that goes back to the source material and tries to recreate that incredible feeling tension and fear. Skip the love story that doesn't make sense!

Perhaps if you loved the movie a bit more than me, and are looking for that extra special gift you might give this Barbie doll more thought....

The Birds Barbie Doll

What are your thoughts?



Sandy Nawrot said...

It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, but I've always felt that the idea of the movie is the draw more than the plot. I know alot of people that have bird phobias because of this movie (my mom included), and I think that because of this, the movie gets more attention than it deserves.

Ruth said...

THis is one of my least favorite Hitchcock films...but I love that Barbie doll, I cannot lie about that! LOL! I think you hit the nail on the head talking about character issues...they just fall flat and I don't really care about them at all. I'll have to check out the short story. I'm planning on rejoining the Summer of Hitchcock blog posts with Spellbound (I think that's next...?). My "Summer of Hitchcock" is more an excuse to watch the movies I have on DVD again, LOL!).

Chris said...

I rewatched this last year with my husband who had never seen it. We were both bored at the beginning. He said, "Why does everyone sound like they're reading out of a book?" There was a lot of talking and smoking.

Finally though, it got better with the crazy bird attacks. They freakiest part for me was when she was at the playground and the kids were singing that weird song over and over while the crows gathered behind her.

Louise said...

I haven't read the book, but agree with you on the movie. I remember being terrified watching it when I was way younger than I am now, and then re-watching last year. Wasn't overly terrifying at all. Much had to do with the special fx I think - the birds really didn't look like natural birds and things like that.

Anyway, it was fun to visit Bodega Bay in California in 2007, where some of the scenes were filmed. I actually was quite captivated by that little town, and found it very pretty and wonderful.

Sierra Rix said...

Uh..That doll is over the top.
I don't like the movie. The visuals leave too little to the imagination and I agree with you on the drawn out quality. Its kind of exhausting.
Creepy short stories (Turn of the screw, Du Mauriers version of Birds & My Cousin Rachel, etc) really create a palette for your mind without handwalking you through each incident. They are scary because you are forced to draw your own mental picture, not have one thrown at you.

Lori L said...

I guess I'm sitting all alone on that playground bench. When I first saw it, The birds scared me more than Psycho. I still find it creepy because you see flocks of birds gathering all the time - and who is to say when they will go bad?
While the special effects are lacking by todays standards I continue to think that any remake will focus even more on the blood and gore and it will lose that delicious tension Hitchcock created.
I'll agree on the love story, though. Who cares, especially with all those birds flying around.

Literate Housewife said...

I have some wonderful memories of this movie. Before Emma arrived, Danny and I used to go to the Virginia Film Festival - it just so happened to take place around our anniversary. The last year we went, we attended a Shot by Shot class with Roger Ebert featuring The Birds. This was before he got really sick and it was a wonderful experience. In prep, we watched it at home and then again on the big screen before the class began. There was so much to see and learn from this film and that is why I love it. We went over the themes, touched upon Hitchcock's obsession with blondes wearing buns, and other facts about the filming. It really was a shot by shot classes that lasted two afternoons. I left there feeling that I'd learned so much. Danny recently bought me the Tippi Hedren Birds Barbie and I will forever treasure it. I also unintentionally flinch whenever I see more than a couple of crows together. :)

I was so conscious of watching the movie and picking out potential questions that I was never bored by the movie. I asked Danny what he thought and he said that Hitchcock unfolded his stories slowly, so that could be why this one didn't work for you as well.

I'm sorry that I haven't been able to participate in this fun program you're doing, Amy. I've just been so burned out and over committed that everything feels like a chore. Hopefully that will continue to improve. I took Friday and Monday off so things should feel better from here on out. This is such a great idea. I hope that you're having fun with it.

ibeeeg said...

OMGosh...This movie was one of my all-time scary movies when I was kid. It scared the crud out of me. Even to this day I reference the bird attack scenes when something scary weird pops up into my head. Remember nothing else of the movie except for those darn birds attacking and killing! And boy do I still remember.

Interesting to note that you view the movie differently now than when you were a kid.

Nicole said...

I don't think that The Birds scared me as a kid. I thought it was more interesting to see the birds go after the people. I want to google around and see what the reviews were at the time and if people were terrified or enjoyed this movie. I know he was under pressure to do something big after Psycho, but this just falls way short of Psycho in my opinion.

I think at the time bird or mutant creatures taking over the planet were like the y2k of their time. People were a little obsessed and there were movies about giant ants and other bugs so maybe this would have been more menacing back then. I was little meh on the short story, but after seeing the movie, I think it's a masterpiece, lol.

I guess I should save some of my ramblings for my post, so stopping now.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I guess the critics at the time weren't too impressed with it either, but compare it to say, The Happening by M. Night Shyamalan. There you also have "nature" turning against people, but I thought The Happening was just laughable. I think The Birds seems dated, but still a little more plausable or scary than The Happening. I was also impressed by the special effects that they could use even that long ago.

Matthew said...

The doll is so funny!

heidenkind said...

I love that doll!

Yeah, I was comically disappointed in the movie. Psycho was good, and the short story was so good, that I thought fer shore this was going to be the scariest movie ever. But if I hadn't been twittering during it, I prolly would have fallen asleep. -_-

Debi said...

I loved that movie when I was a kid...and it seemed scary then. Now it's more fun for a laugh. But I couldn't agree with you more about the short story...definitely much more terrifying! Of course, I love all of her short stories! (Well, all the ones I've read anyway.)

And that doll...too funny!

SuziQoregon said...

Love the doll! I don't think this one has held up as well as some of his others. Like others have said - didn't really care about the characters much at all.

Jenn M. said...

I love Barbie there. :)

I have only seen the movie, never read the short story, but it's good to know the short story was good because I wasn't head-over-heels about the movie. I have a HUGE phobia of birds, but not because of this movie.

I had my own "Birds" moment on Sunday when i was trying to clean out the barn and I heard little chick noises. I went to investigate, when out from the rafters comes this attack chicken. It swooped down squaking and flapping and like a little girl I dropped everything and ran for it. The darn thing actually chased me. I still can't get into the barn. Gives me a good reason not to clean it.

Stupid Chicken.

Rebecca :) said...

This is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen! And that Barbie totally freaks me out! *shivers*

heidenkind said...

It looks like the Mr. Linky has disappeared. :( But here's the link to my post on the Birds (sorry it's so late)

Trish said...

Once upon a time when I was little I saw a portion of The Birds in 3D (at Universal Studios). It scared the crud out of me and I've never wanted to watch the full version. Just imagine hundreds of birds flying right at you! Anyway, didn't realize it was based on a du Maurier story, but that makes me really curious. It's amazing how much punch can be packed into a little short story, huh?

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