Thursday, 4 February 2016

Script to Screen - The Birds

“The Birds” (1963) by Alfred Hitchcock was directed at the pinnacle of his career, gaining trust and freedom from his movie sponsors with the success of Psycho (1960). Hitchcock had free rain to produce a movie that disposed of  the formal structure that movie goers where used to seeing.  Using his misdirection trope of fooling the audience into thinking they are watching one genre of film, only for it to flip into another adding to the thrill and also leaving a unresolved ending to a movie. Why did the this happen and what was the reason? “Actually I have no idea what draws the birds and turns them bad and it seems that nobody else does either”. Melanie Daniels

The opening scene shows the flirtatious bickering between a pristine female socialite Melanie, oozing with confidence, taunting a smart mouthed lawyer Mitch, equally showing high regard for himself. Filled with sarcastic flaunts and practice jokes (Fig. 01, Fig. 02), Hitchcock starts his trickery into fooling the viewer into what seems a light-hearted and fun comedy.  However, things take a turn for the weird, Firstly with a unprovoked bird attack on Melanie to the unsettling behaviour between Mitch and his possessive widowed Mother, Lydia.  “Mitch calling Lydia “darling” and “dear” is just plain odd. It made me think that a little something more was going on between them than the typical mother/son relationship.”

(Fig. 01)                                                                   (Fig. 02)

As Melanie appears on the scene and recieves Mitches full attention, you can see the fear in Lydia and the possibility of losing her status as being the dominant female in her Sons life. (Fig. 03). This dependancy of the female attention seems to affect the attacks of the birds, Perhaps a symbolic symbol of the pecking and neediness of females in Hitchcocks life. The bird attacks seem to occur when Lydia, sees Mitch and Melanie’s emotions getting closer and thus the bird attacks grow in intensity as their relationship becomes grounded. However as the attacks grow more brutal and murderous, the crumbling of Melanies confidence seems to mirror the Mothering that Lydia presents to her and by the end of the film Lydia, protects and nutures melanie. (Fig. 04).

(Fig. 03)                                                                   (Fig. 04)

Hitchcocks use of the camera throughout the film reflects the moods and emotions that he pushes onto the viewer. The seemingly calm and playfulness at the beginning of the film, is framed with beauty shots and lighting to suit. But as we get into the guts of the film, the angles are cranked and the shadows are unforgiving even for the most photogenic of actresses and actors (Fig. 05, Fig. 06 , Fig. 07), showing their transformation of the powerful to the vulnerable. symbolistic of the birdcage at the begining of the film, with the main characters laughing and joking over the two love birds locked up in their cage - to them eventually being the ones locked up in their house as the birds are attacking unable to escape...

(Fig. 05)                                                    (Fig. 06)                                       (Fig. 07)

Brooks, X. (2012) My Favourite Hitchcock: The Birds At: Accessed on: 26/1/2016
Bovberg, J. (2013) The Birds (1963) At: Accessed on: 06/8/2013

Illustration List:
Figure 1. The Birds [Film Still] At:
Figure 2.  [Film Still] At:
Figure 3. Jealous Mother [Film Still] At:
Figure 4. Ending [Film Still] At:

Figure 5. Attack [Film Still] At:
Figure 6. Attack [Film Still] At:
Figure 7. Attack [Film Still] At:


  1. Hi Mark,

    Interesting discussion around the symbolism of the bird cage and the trapped humans at the end of the film :)

    A couple of pointers - don't forget to italicise the film name each time you use it. You have forgotten to reference the 2nd quote, and when referencing, you don't need the author's full name, just the surname and the year. Your first quote is spoken by the character Melanie in the film, I take it? This still needs to be referenced in the bibliography...see here -

    You also have a few typos in there (well, the use of the wrong word really)- 'free rain' for example, instead of 'free rein', 'where' instead of 'were'...

  2. yep, it's worth giving this another proof read, Mark - you've got some grammar stuff in there (for example, 'Mitches full attenton' should read 'Mitch's full attention) and some other tweaks to make - but your confidence in terms of putting these reviews is clearly growing, and this is your most ambitious in terms of analysis to date - so well done, but get in there and pick out some of the flies in the ointment :)