THE BIRDS

(1963)
With Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Reviewed by JL and JB

"Damn that explosion... now I've forgotten the number!"     THE BIRDS is Alfred Hitchcock's last true masterpiece, coming at the end of his greatest period of filmmaking.  But it's also a maddening and frustrating film, more noted for its technical virtuosity than any thematic or social import.  Hitchcock's determination to keep the reasons for the bird attacks vague does not necessarily open THE BIRDS to several interpretations (as he had hoped), but instead renders the film a more trivial exercise in gratuitous horror.  There's simply not enough subtext in the film to justify deep interpretation.  Yet it remains a gripping viewing experience, owing to its omnipresent suspenseful tone and the truly frightening bird-attack set pieces.  In the end, THE BIRDS remains an experiment in pure filmmaking, rather than meaningful filmmaking, but its strengths are enough that Hitchcock attains greatness by breaking all the rules. ½ - JL


     In the career of many a popular artist comes the moment when all the cries of "Genius!" goes to his or her head.  THE BIRDS is that moment for Alfred Hitchcock.  The bird attacks are as good as anything Hitchcock has ever done, but what comes in between these attacks is often flat and dull.  The decision to not spell out the reason for the attacks is one of the films weaknesses, and the ending is a supreme disappointment.  And yet THE BIRDS it is still worth watching because, yeah, Hitch is a genius.  But it will never be one of my favorites. The Birds - JB

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