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Alfred Hitchcock’s the Birds, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The true theme of Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds (1963) is the sense of loneliness and alienation that pervades modern human life. Although the film, on the surface appears to be the story of a bizarre ecological disaster where the birds of the world turn aggressive toward humanity, the underlying character development and conflicts that  drive the narrative are actually signs that the bird-attacks are related to the tension and disharmony that exists between people. The commentary that is made by the film is that nature is responsive to human emotion an d when people fall out of the ‘flow” with nature, the natural world becomes a threatening, potentially lethal place. This theme and meaning is show throughout the film, but it is shown most clearly in the scenes that relate directly to rupture sin human communication, such as the scene when the birds attack the children at the birthday party just after Mitch and Melanie have a disturbing conversation about their respective childhoods, each of which shows tragic overtones. the same can be said about the scene where the birds attack the school and manage to kill Annie. The sub-text of Annie’s death is that it is her loneliness and isolation (from Mitch) that actually killed her and that the birds are simply a manifestation of her inner-turmoil and strife.

2. Hitchcock uses many elements of film to express the themes describes above. The most obvious way that the theme is expressed is through the structure of the film’s narrative. the story lays the groundwork for the interpersonal hardships and broken relationships that relate emotionally to the bird-attacks. The film uses narrative to show the prevalence of loneliness among human-beings. This same theme is expressed through the use of acting in the film due tot he fact that all of the characters are portrayed through subdued or restrained acting performances, which serves to heighten the tension. The actors also use understated performances to give a feeling of introspection. A lot is accomplished through gesture and facial expression due to the spare use of dialogue in the film.  Obviously, the cinematography of the film also contributes tot he theme of isolation and fragmented relationships. The camera moves, throughout the film, as a detached observer, very voyeuristically — as though from a “bird’s eye.”  In this way, the viewer is allowed to experience the film as though “spying” on the actors. A closely related aspect to the cinematography of the film is the editing that was used. For example, in the scene which follows the first bird-attack on the Brenner house, there is a cut away to a scene of wood in the fireplace collapsing into a split heap, as though to symbolize the emotional rift between Mitch and is parents. Similarly, the cut to an ariel viewpoint  during the large-scale attack on the town shifts the emphasis of the story from the plight of the characters to the actions of nature. Finally, the art direction and design of the film are used to present to contrasting pictures: one of a composed an orderly society, highly fashionable, modern and attractive; the other is stark, bleak, and shadowy, based on the  inner moods of the characters projected into nature.

3. There are many scenes in the film that exemplify Hitchcock’s directing style. Among the most significant or obvious is the scene of Melanie being attacked by birds due to its conflation of sex and violence, a quintessential Hitchcock trait.  Another signature scene is the attack on the town where Hitchcock used cutting-edge special effects to create the scenes on film. This scene is very representative  of Hitchcock’s style because it  shows how he was able to weld a multitude of complicated shots into a seamless sequence. The movie is probably the most “signature” of all of Hitchcock’s films due to its sophisticated and sustained use of visual metaphor.

4. My personal reaction to the film is that it is one of the most highly-accomplished visual and narrative masterpieces ever made. While it would be reasonable to suggest that non of the characters in the film are particularly sympathetic, it is precisely this fact that gives the  film so much philosophical depth. i enjoyed the fact that Hitchcock was able to generate a suspense story that also carried a lot of thematic weight. Also interesting was Hitchcock’s ability to bring an entire town to life in the film while still focusing tightly on a handful of characters. I loved the film both aesthetically and  in terms of story. I believe that The Birds not only ranks as one of Hitchcock’s most brilliant and important films, but as one of the greatest films of all time.

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