The Birds, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1963 is widely appreciated in the thriller world. Hitchcock’s genius allows for a topic such as everyday birds to become a new found fear among the public of the 60s and beyond. Every element of the film pushes the idea of fearing the unexpected. Although plentiful, the film to the untrained eye would not appear to have any tactics to create suspense, making the audience feel as if they are creating the fear themselves- by extension taking it away into their everyday lives.
The acting is naturalistic. It is naturalistic to the extent that it reflects the awkwardness of real life conversations. Characters talk over and interrupt each other almost as if the film were not scripted at all. Beyond this you also witness characters having awkward silences allowing you to reflect on how the characters interact, and the rivalry between the women. This is summed up nicely by Philly Brophy;- “The soundtrack of THE BIRDS is literally that: voices, sounds, atmospheres. No violins. It rejects all musical coding traditionally employed to inform us of how we should care/think/feel/project at any point in the film. The absence of music is a specific 'sound of silence' which greatly enhances the THE BIRDS' peculiarly perverse dramatic tone.” (Brophy, 1999)
The film has no un naturalistic sound effects, again reflecting real life. The sound is not what brings the suspense in The Birds; it’s the not knowing when the birds are going to attack again. There are many scenes where pure silence is used to build suspense. Hitchcock is king of making his audiences wait.
Beyond a warning about birds, the film seems to serve as a message of the power of mass and unity. The more women in a scene at one time, the more trouble seems to ensue. When working together, the women in the film, as well as the small town community, manage to convince themselves that Melanie (an outsider) is responsible for the possession of the birds. The Guardian notes “The entire bird world, chagrined to be the pawn in a devious woman's game, gets its revenge. Thereafter, it's women on the verge of a feathery freak-out, all the way” (Bidisha, 2010). The two lovebirds seem to serve as a metaphor for Melanie and Mitch. Two people happily trying to live their life while all around them is madness. This is easy to see when you compare the scene in which all the women are stood in the diner. Standing, waiting, not too dissimilar to the famous school frame scene with the birds flocking onto the climbing frame. (fig 1) (fig 2)
Brophy, P, 1999, The Birds: The Triumph of Sound at http://www.philipbrophy.com/projects/sncnm/Birds.html
Bidisha, 2010, What’s wrong with Hitchcock’s woman (The Guardian) at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/21/alfred-hitchcock-women-psycho-the-birds-bidisha