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For me, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds represents one of the more enticing efforts to realize a film as if it were an unfolding well-written novel - leisurely in the first half, but also literate, elegant and even (horror of horrors) subtle in places. Much of this quality is evident in the early scenes - the ones in San Francisco where we're introduced to the two main characters (played by Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren), Melanie Daniels' (Hedren) drive towards Bodega Bay and when she becomes acquainted with the new locale. Those touches with the two little lovebirds, as they sway inside their cage with the turns of Melanie's automobile - you just don't see stuff like this in other films, not these days and not even back then. Of course, if this is a novel-as-film, it's still a horror novel - with a touch of sci-fi. When the birds attack, the tone becomes a bit more visceral.
I have the advantage of just seeing this film again. I noted that all the appearances of the birds in 'attack mode' always depend on the presence of Melanie. Hitchcock himself suggests this connection when a panicky woman screams at Melanie, opining that Melanie may be the cause of all this and calling her "evil!". Our first reaction to this scene is - 'OK, the panic-stricken woman is just looking for a weird reason and Hitchcock is playing with us;' but it does make some sense. All events seem to revolve around Melanie. As suggested by radio reports, this is not a worldwide or nationwide phenomenon; it just affects this village and a couple of nearby towns, like Santa Rosa.
Bird Trivia: there were a couple of big films made recently about the behind-the-scenes and making of this film - an HBO TV Film called The Girl (2012), the girl of the title being Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller), with Toby Jones in the role of Alfred Hitchcock, and the film Hitchcock (2012), in which the director was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins; see below for rare behind-the-scenes photos:
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