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The Birds is Coming

Click here, or on the image above, to see the trailer from The Birds.

“We seem to have a compulsion these days to bury time capsules in order to give those people living in the next century or so some idea of what we are like. I have prepared one of my own. I have placed some rather large samples of dynamite, gunpowder, and nitroglycerin. My time capsule is set to go off in the year 3000. It will show them what we are really like.”  ― Alfred Hitchcock

For a more satisfying vision of a future in which things don’t work out as planned, with nature in revolt and the horror left unresolved at fadeout, one could do worse than to rent Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 classic The Birds, in which the director’s mastery to both form and content is evident in every frame. Famously devoid of any musical score at all, other than an electronic pastiche of bird cries on the soundtrack to punctuate the action, The Birds is a master class in camera placement, editing, and the slow accumulation of suspense — scene by scene.

Tippi Hedren is self-assured and resolute in the leading role as Melanie Daniels, while Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette lend credible support, and the film itself is handsomely designed, with a sense of solidity and precision in its construction that holds up under repeated viewings. Based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story, with superb special effects by the great Ub Iwerks, The Birds stands as Hitchcock’s last really successful film, after the full-fledged triumph of Psycho.

Those who would like to know more about the film should read Hitchcock /Truffaut, perhaps the best interview book ever done on any director, in which François Truffaut spent weeks with Hitchcock going over his entire career in minute detail — first released in the late 1960s, it has never been out of print, and Truffaut was able to create a revised, expanded second edition just before his tragic death in 1984 — there’s really no better introduction to Hitchcock’s work.

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About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu. Visit him at his website wheelerwinstondixon.com.

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