The premise of “The Birds” makes me wonder if Hitchcock didn’t lose a bet… It’s absurd even in the competitively ridiculous context of horror movie scenarios. But damn if I haven’t been keeping a closer eye on the seagulls and pigeons on my walk to work. Hitchcock is able to create the texture of apocalypse with a few flocks of crows. It’s the questions left unanswered and the images left outside of the brilliantly framed shots that move us to the edge of our seats.
I find myself praising how awesomely bad old trailers are yet again…This one is the Shakespeare of bad trailers.
“Blondes make the best victims,” Hitchcock famously said. “The Birds” is a film that is difficult to separate from the biography of its creator. Hitchcock was both physically and emotionally abusive to the film’s star, Tippi Hedren during the making of “The Birds.” Hitchcock’s troubling and fascinating relationships with his lead actresses are detailed in Donald Spoto’s book “Spellbound By Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies.” The new HBO film, “The Girl,” specifically explores Hitchcock and Hedron’s relationship.
Hitchcock actually had Hedren attacked by real birds in the final scene of “The Birds”, only telling her about it right before shooting. You know the scene; She goes up to the attic by herself to check on a noise and becomes trapped as she realizes that birds have filled the room. When her character is rescued she seems convincingly, almost too convincingly, traumatized. Knowing that the actress was truly attacked, abused and exhausted changes ones reading of the film. I can’t help but link the claustrophobia of the boarded up house to how trapped Hedron must have felt in her situation.
I’ve found myself struggling with the possibility of separating art from it’s creator before (I’m looking’ at you, Picasso) and I’ve come to the conclusion that troubling biography never illegitimizes a work of art, but rather complicates our reading of it. “The Birds,” becomes ripe for discourse about gender constructs, power dynamics and misogyny.
Talk amongst yourselves…