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The Birds
Sunday, March 22, 2009

This film - which we watched a week or so ago - was the last of the Hitch movies under discussion. I have always been fascinated by this film - not allowed to see it as a child - watched many times since - and written about in poetic form. I love birds, and don't find them at all scary except in majestic sense when it comes to the great birds of prey - eagles, buzzards, ospreys, owls. I've been swooped on by them in the Farne Islands during breeding and it seemed quite easy to politely step aside. So it isn't the birds attacking that I find frightening about this movie but what happens to Melanie - how she is given her comeuppance in a cruel and what seems personal way. I hadn't read anything about the making of the movie until quite recently and am not at all surprised to read (in Donald Spoto's Spellbound by Beauty) that Hitch was totally obssessed by Tipi Hedren and made her life hell during the making of this film, in a way which we assume just could not happen today. The absolute power of the director and his manipulation of the actors, especially the women. Hitch kept TH isolated from other members of the crew and exploited her lack of experience in horrible ways. Something of that sadism comes through in the attic scene, where Melanie is attacked repeatedly by the birds which were tied to her. I'm not sure I'll be able to watch this film again, even though I am also reading Camille Paglia's take on the movie, which is brilliantly perverse (to me anyway). But then she's a woman for whom no means yes - I'm sure she and Hitch would have got on great.
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