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Sight and Sound (1996) - The Birds




The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock/USA 1963

"Birds don't just go around attacking people for no reason," announces Bodega Bay's stoical policeman. But neither Hitchcock nor his screenwriter Evan Hunter worry about providing explanations for the avian aggression in this adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's classic short story. Whether you regard the birds as a latterday counterpart to the Furies in Greek mythology or as a winged projection of the director's neurotic imagination, they are still terrifying. The quietness of the countryside on which they descend heightens the disturbing mood of foreboding. Unlike most horror pics, this unfolds in bright, clear daylight. It is shot in pale, pellucid style by Robert Burks. The technical wizardry, seamless matte work and ingenious sound editing is complemented by robust performances from Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren (who miraculously manages to keep her glacial cool however often she is pecked and nibbled). Look out, also, for strong character-acting from Jessica Tandy as Taylor's mother and Suzanne Pleshette as the lovelorn teacher. (MFB No. 356)

  • Retail: CIC; £10.99; Certificate 15