Monday, September 2, 2013

Alfred Hitchcock, Birds, and Terrorism

Did Hitchcock offer a primer on terrorism in his classic film about birds attacking a small town? First, with all due respect to that incomparable director, The Birds proves contrived from start to finish. 

Yesterday, while watching the fliers swoop in from all directions on the screen, this movie-fan enjoyed the freaky experience of knowing the birds have been swarming in Dunkirk, NY, for a week now, chirping and screeching in whole choruses as they leap from flickering tree to flickering tree. Occupied trees bobble with their movement, but the birds are clever enough to carry on their political conventions behind leaves until they wish to be seen.

When they gathered right outside this writer's residence, the area became a sound chamber, exaggerating sound effects as each chirper's song multiplied and echoed the identical contributions of his winged relatives, friends, and colleagues in the equivalent of music festivals held regularly across the country. 

When barred owls practice this habitual behavior in West Virginia, they appear to be holding their very own hoot-nannies—so loud that their wing-flapping functions as both applause and intimidation. Bird-lovers know, however, that barred owls are the most loquacious members of their tribes, maximizing the experience summarized in the film Beyond the Sea with those immortal words: "We see what we hear."

So, this blogger entered another world as the birds' clamor for God-knows-what reason—scientists still cannot fully explain why the impulse to swarm sets birds to chattering and singing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—echoed all around her. Inside her dwelling, the movie The Birds was unrolling its devilish plot, while outside the local birds were swarming closer and closer to her porch. 

She leaned over the railing, as if she might interview these chirpers, and discover at last their perspective on human and avian interaction. Politics, too, was much on her mind as the birds' clamor increased to extraordinary decibel levels. This experiment in psychology and cinematic techniques suddenly ended more swiftly than it had begun.

With a single bark, the writer's dog ended that political gathering. As soon as that dog opened his mouth, the birds vanished—as if the writer herself had decided: Begone, you loud-mouthed bickering oracles of deviltry! The dog then resumed his faithful position at the writer's feet, his mouth placed on the floor between his feet, satisfied that he had dispersed the latest menace to peace and safety in the small town of Dunkirk, NY. 

Peering through the porch screens, though, the cats were NOT satisfied. They had just missed their golden opportunity to demonstrate what cats will do with birds and cuisine and happy landings. So, Hitchcock's impressive classic owes a little debt to a critical omission: Get those cats on the case, and the birds will discover their very own Cinema Realite. 

No comments:

Post a Comment