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Daily Dose #18: Love Birds (Opening Scene of The Birds)


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#1 Reegstar

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 07:12 PM

1.  In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

 

This opening scene does seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy because of the "cute" way Mitch and Melanie meet up in the pet store.  There is the playful banter between them about the love birds, and Melanie pretending to be a sales clerk, with Mitch making fun of her ignorance.

 

We know that Melanie is glamorous and sophisticated by her mode of dress and educated way of speaking.  She's clearly intrigued by Mitch and shamelessly flirts with him.  I really like her in this scene, but later in the movie is another story.  I really don't care much about her as the movie progresses.  She seems very arrogant, yet stupid at the same time.

 

Mitch is a sympathetic character right off because he's buying a gift for his (MUCH younger) sister.  He also seems down to earth and humorous.  He kind of falls into the Cary Grant mold, but a just a little rougher around the edges.  I think he would be like that, a little rougher, because he doesn't live in the city, even though he's wealthy and smart.  He has a little of the Northern California air about him.

 

2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

 

Until I studied this opening scene for the class, I didn't realize how the bird sounds are layered into the scene.  The screeching of the gulls over Union Square as Melanie is walking to the pet store is jarring.  It produces a mild feeling of anxiety.

 

3.  The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.

  

The cameo is of Hitchcock walking his two Scottish Terriers out of the pet shop as Melanie walks in.  Unlike other comments on this subject, I, frankly, don't see any hidden or obvious meaning in this appearance.



#2 dsanders

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 05:15 PM

Daily Dose #18: Love Birds? Opening Scene from The Birds (1963)

 

I have to say that The Birds is another favorite of mine, often viewed, going back to my childhood, when it was very scary, and then later on when it became more interesting for its film-making aspects, and the apocalyptic theme, which makes it stand out from his other works. Like Dr. Edwards, and Dr. Gehring, I too know Rod Taylor from The Time Machine, which we got to see at a school assembly, as a reward. I think Taylor does an remarkable job here, starting in this opening scene, where he is ‘dressed as Cary Grant,’ but continuing on later in the film, where he dons workman’s clothes and becomes an anchor of stability in the film, balancing the four strong women in his life, including another strange Hitchcock mother, who becomes more humanized for once.

 

I notice in this scene how Tippi Hedrin crosses in the street, back now to San Francisco again. Her hair is tightly done up, Kim Novak style, but missing the signature whirlpool curl. The birds flocking in San Francisco are not unusual, and even present the same kind of picture today, creating a commotion late in a Giants game, for example. But if you listen to the sound track here, even though you assume it is a normal sound for the scene, the actual sound in isolation is artificial, strange, and unnerving. Then amidst the gulls, there is a catcall at Tippi, as she turns the corner and walks to the pet shop, which she acknowledges, good-naturedly. I had never noticed this before, because even though I have seen the film many times, I am easily distracted when a film begins. I had to play this section over a couple of times to see that it is coming from a young boy, she passes on the street, immediately before Hitchcock emerges from the store, dragged by his two dogs. I immediately thought of the dog in Rear Window, who gets buried in the garden, and the kittens directly opposite in the store window, like the cat crossing the path in the opening scene of Rear Window. Cats and dogs, men and women. One way to see the two dogs might be as the actors Taylor and Hedrin leashed to director Hitchcock.

 

Melanie proceeds to have a flirtation scene with Mitch in the pet store, reminiscent of the scene we just discussed between Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant. As usual, as Hitchcock adapts his techniques to new situations, a little twist ensues. This time, Mitch holds all the cards, though Melanie does a remarkable job fencing with him, trying to make up knowledge she doesn’t have, as he goads her along, malevolently amused. He is just playing with her, knowing she is not the shop clerk, while he pretends to be someone he isn’t, an innocent, while actually withholding much more knowledge about her then he lets on. This will spark her competitive nature to the next plot action, delivering the lovebirds to Mitch’s island-like home in Bodega Bay.

I love the setting of this movie, and the outdoor shots. Hitchcock has moved beyond San Francisco, again, as in Psycho, to the more pastoral setting of Northern California.

 

I listened to an audio version of Daphne du Maurier’s short story, and though it is in a different setting, great Britain, and a different time, Hitchcock updates the story, but retains a lot of the creepiness, nature-in-revolt, apocalyptic feeling of the original story.

 

I liked the response in the Hitchcock interview at the end of the lecture video. We often see an interviewer making a statement, which Hitchcock then contradicts, or corrects. Here he finally has an interviewer  who is a willing student to what he is saying, and gets it, in regard to North By Northwest.

 

“But it had a tremendous air of reality to it…”

 

“Ahhhh!” Hitchcock says…”and so do nightmares.”



#3 Rejana Raj

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 03:13 PM

1.) At a glance, one may think that the opening scene has a romantic feel, but don't be fooled by it because the real events are yet to take place. In this particular scene, Miss Hedren playfully acts as a salesgirl to the character of Rod Taylor. It seems to me that they were flirting.

 

2.) Yes, I should agree now that why this film is named "The Birds". Before, the heroine enters the pet shop, she notices the birds of omen circling around the city. Then, she enters the shop where one could hear the loud chirping of caged birds. I got the message that something apocalyptic will happen in the next few hours of this film.

 

3.) In the beginning of all Hitchcock films, One could expect a cameo appearance by Hitchcock and that was one best cameo by him. But, I didn't understand if there was any underlying meaning about his appearance with a pair of leashed dogs. Maybe, it must be a different take as he must have thought not to bore his audience with lots and lots of birds in it.

 

http://24.media.tumb...eenmqo3_500.gif



#4 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 03:06 PM

 

The cameo with Hitchcock and his dogs is a great set up for the Birds.  This wonderful cameo showing domesticated and obedient pet dogs is a great contrast to the random and brutal attacks of normally peaceful birds later in the film.  The opening seen establishes the status quo in which animals (such as pet dogs and birds) are subject to control and imprisonment to humans (either by leash or cage), but soon this established norm will be over turned.  I can't help but view the leash as fetish object in a Hitchcockian sense given the extensive use of handcuffs and ropes as motifs throughout many of his films.   Finally, as this is a film depicting the apocalypse, the cameo has an oddly Biblical feeling to it showing the dogs paired much as animal entering Noah's arch prior to the flood.  Their are several other couples in the film (a pair of love birds, and Melanie/Mitch) mirroring Hitchcock's pair of pet dogs.  Interestingly Annie Hayworth who has no partner to pair with does not survive the apocalypse.

 

Wow!!  You got a lot out of the pair of dogs leaving the pet store with Hitch.  Great reflections!



#5 Bgeorgeteacher

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 03:05 PM

I've watched The Birds several times, and I always felt like there was something a bit off....and now I realize it's the lack of background music.  It's the constant chirping of birds!!  When the gulls are flying around outside, paired with their bird sounds, it all seems very dark and mysterious.  Once Melanie enters the pet store, however, the mood changes, and the bird sounds become light and friendly.  You seem to shed the air of mystery once you are inside the pet store.  And then, when Mitch enters the scene, you get even more of the lightness of a romantic comedy...the delicate bird calls in the background play right into that scene.  



#6 Suj

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 07:25 PM

1. Yes, it is a light-hearted scene with a background of threatening bird sounds. Rod Taylor mistakes Tippi for a sales lady in the Pet shop and although he catches her out when she tells him about the "red birds" and he asks her "Aren't they strawberry finches?" she carries on regardless as she finds him attractive and doesn't reveal that she is not the sales lady. He too seems to not realise that she is not the sales lady in spite of her lack of knowledge.

 

2. The sound design is very different from his other films. No music just bird sounds as Tippi walks along Union Square and into the Pet Shop. At one stage she turns around to look up at the birds in the sky before she enters the shop making us notice the bird sounds even more. As she enters the store, we hear the birds tweeting quite loudly and the sales lady explains it's because of a storm at sea. Throughout their conversation the bird sounds seem to almost prevent us from hearing the conversation between the 2 ladies.

 

3. Hitch's cameo. Didn't really see any strong significance apart from it being a regular Hitchcock feature in all his films but you could argue that he walks out of the store with a pair of dogs and we will be introduced to Rod who will become a pair when he meets Tippi and that he asks her for a pair of love birds for his sister. It also adds a comedic touch to the scene.



#7 MagdaK83

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 06:04 PM

The sound of the birds is emphasized a lot and there's something peculiar about it that is not so romantic as it might seem. The birds have taken on the sky, our female protagonist can "hear" the birds. they are there in the background.....mystery is there....



#8 iceiceblondie

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 01:33 AM

It definitely feels like a romantic comedy with the meeting of Melanie and Mitch. They're both very flirty, and it doesn't feel like something terrible is going to happen. It feels light-hearted.

 

The lack of a musical score to me sounds very eerie and foreboding. You'd think music would help make it feel this way, but you know what's coming with the birds, so it adds to the feeling that there's something wrong.



#9 AmyV

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 11:07 PM

1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film?

In many ways, the opening seems very light, peppy, with touches of humor, such as the pet store proprietress with her profuse apologies over the late delivery of Melanie's birds.  Then, there is the male lead (Mitch) entering the store, soon mistakes Melanie for a store employee, she plays along, and they have a whole discussion of types of bird, molting, etc.

What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

They both have an interest in pet birds.  She is either a playful type person or immediately has an interest in him, or both, to play along as though she does work there.  He seems quite knowledgeable about birds himself, types, whether they are molting or not, etc.

 

2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

We can hear birds in the background from the very beginning of the scene; then, there is the kid who whistles at Melanie, which sort of mimics the sound of a bird, then she particularly notices the swarming gulls in the sky - and we hear and see those. The sounds they make, especially in a film of this sort, seems sinister.  But, the birds sounds in the shop, conversely, seem more innocent and again, maybe even contribute to that feel of it starting out more like a romantic comedy/drama than a horror film.

 

3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.

I really like the cameo, personally.  It is simply Hitchcock walking out of the pet store with his two terriers on leashes, as Melanie walks in.  I didn't think about the fact that it is one of those examples of doubles in a Hitchcock film, but clearly, it is.  I appreciate the analysis I read from some of the other students on this.

 

 



#10 kchriste

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 09:11 PM

The cameo with Hitchcock and his dogs is a great set up for the Birds.  This wonderful cameo showing domesticated and obedient pet dogs is a great contrast to the random and brutal attacks of normally peaceful birds later in the film.  The opening seen establishes the status quo in which animals (such as pet dogs and birds) are subject to control and imprisonment to humans (either by leash or cage), but soon this established norm will be over turned.  I can't help but view the leash as fetish object in a Hitchcockian sense given the extensive use of handcuffs and ropes as motifs throughout many of his films.   Finally, as this is a film depicting the apocalypse, the cameo has an oddly Biblical feeling to it showing the dogs paired much as animal entering Noah's arch prior to the flood.  Their are several other couples in the film (a pair of love birds, and Melanie/Mitch) mirroring Hitchcock's pair of pet dogs.  Interestingly Annie Hayworth who has no partner to pair with does not survive the apocalypse.

 


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#11 pumatamer

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 01:10 PM

  1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? There is the subtle but cheesy flirtation between Hedren and Taylor. The improbable and also absurd way in which they meet and which Hedren's character decides to bring him loves birds...just adds to the romantic comedy feel of this scene. 
  2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? The excessive amount of bird noise that almost drown out the traffic and bustling city, gives you a sense of foreboding that the birds are panicked and we are about to get a glimpse of this. 
  3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. I just love him with the two dogs. I don't know what it really means but it is so random and yet funny. 


#12 roblevy

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:16 PM

In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

 

There is very much a light feel to the opening of the film. it is tricky beucase the audience feels like they are seeing a duple that is very much comfortable in their relationship. Until it all goes bonkers.

 

How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? I think he uses the pitch and sound level of the birds to convey both their proximity and their growing numbers,. The sound also escalates in volume so that the viewer feels there are more than what we see.

 

 

The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.

 

I dnt think  the cameo has any real actual meaning other than to be cover and maybe distract the viewer, allowing for a bit of a break before things get messy.



#13 brooke.fenton

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 09:44 PM

 1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? The opening is definitely misleading that this will be a horror film. It's a nice, light opening. The only slightly ominous thing are the swarm of birds flying overhead, but nothing else would lead the audience to believe that anything is wrong. The scenery is bright. Melanie wears a light colored dress. People talk on the streets, boys play as they pass her. We learn that Melanie is somewhat of a spoiled girl used to getting her way. She is playful and somewhat manipulative. Mitch is her match though. He plays along, but also isn't afraid to confront her. 

 

2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? The sound is interesting, because we really don't hear the birds too much until we see them on the screen. 

 

3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. It's very subtle. Hitchcock passes Melanie as he comes out of the pet store while she walks in. He has his two dogs. 



#14 dan_quiterio

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 09:39 PM

I agree with Prof. Edwards's assessment that the opening scene of The Birds feels more like a rom-com than a horror film. The chance meeting of a man and a woman under false pretenses, the casual flirting between the two, the on-the-nose symbolism of love birds, the lightness to the interaction between Melanie and the pet shop employee--they all lend themselves to a light, fun film. In this scene, we learn that Melanie has a sense of humor. She decides to play along when Mitch mistakes her for an employee. She's quite smitten with him and is curious to see how far she can go. Mitch doesn't seem to believe her--she's clearly no expert in birds--but he keeps the charade going because something about her intrigues him. In truth, Melanie knows that Mitch knows she's lying, but they let the encounter play out. It's their way of flirting.

 

The sound design in the scene is composed of various bird calls. We immediately hear seagulls, which transports us to a city by the water. So now we know the place. With the cloud of birds flying overhead and the numerous caged birds in the store, it's quite apparent that their importance cannot be understated (and, well, the movie is called The Birds).

 

In Hitch's cameo, he is scene walking out of the pet store with his two dogs. The pair is of particular note, as we're soon introduced to two love birds--literally and figuratively.


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#15 Jerry Stinson

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 07:55 PM

In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? Mistaking Hedren for an employee and her playfully manipulating the moment, allows Hitchcock to establish her character's traits. She is strong, flirtatious, non-helpless, and "knows what she wants" woman. She also shows that no matter what, she will get her way. The first scene plays like a RC with its playful banter but, I've always found it rather a demonstration of Hedren controlling behavior. In a way it's a roll reversal for this time. She being the typical male character who see what she wants and goes after it, he being the victim of a joke and plays along waiting for her to make the first move. Yes, this could be a RC but, I've always walked away feeling she is a spoiled child who was never told "no".

How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sound of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? From the street, there is no music, only sounds of life, a trolley bell or the birds sound from above. By allowing the sounds of the street instead of a musical soundtrack to follow her to the shop, Hitchcock establish where she is. She is in San Francisco as we can see by the poster on the wall and by the trolley going by but, it is more effective with the seagulls as we are reminded that the sea is near. In a way, you can almost smell the city as the bird sound reminds you of that you are very close to the ocean. That seagull sound is only missing the sound of the tide coming in. It also, makes you think all is well until, Hedren looks up and see more birds than expected. When Hedren asks about the swarm, she is quickly dismissed by the expert because after all birds are harmless.

The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. Hitchcock is coming out of the pet shop with his two dogs. In the opening scene, two is a theme. We see two dogs followed by two love birds, concluding with the main character's flirting making a couple. The cameo to me just represent the possible of a romantic relationship for this scene. It sets up the scene that follows of the romantic banter.

I don't agree that the Hedren character, Melanie Daniels, is a woman in control of the situation during the opening scene. It's Mitch Daniels who is in control: He knows within seconds that she doesn't know the first thing about birds, because her answers are consistently wrong, even absurdly wrong. We can tell by his smirks that he isn't fooled by her pretending to be an employee of the store. (Actually, we learn later that he knows who she actually is, but even in today's clip it's clear that he is onto her game.) Melanie thinks she is in control, that she's fooling him, but since it's the other way around, she seems all the more foolish.



#16 karenod1

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 05:49 PM

Daily Dose # 18 The Birds opening scene

 

Although I have feel that I have seen "The Birds" multiple times....I do not recall this opening scene so it seems that i tune in when I notice that the film is on tv but have never really watched it from start to finish.

 

1.  The feel of the opening scenes from seeing Melanie smile when she gets whistled at to the romantic game that Mitch and Melanie participate in with each other is that this is a nice romantic comedy. Two people, he mistakes her for a store clerk, she takes him on in a playful way and goes along with the joke. He quickly realizes his mistake but enjoys the give and take of the conversation.....lots of double entendres. We find that she is a bit meticulous perhaps, doesn't like to wait, and has a sense of humor or a bit of feistiness to her. He seems like a nice guy, buying a present for his sister, perhaps a bit of a prude when he says he doesn't want the birds to be too demonstrative in front of her since she's only 11 or perhaps he's just really thoughtful!

 

2.  I am annoyed by the sound of the birds especially in the very first part of the scene....the cawing of the gulls is distracting and lends a sense of unease to the scene...it is at odds with the romantic comedy setup....the noise of the birds in the shop is realistic but after a while gets annoying as well...you want it to stop...a harbinger of what is in store.

 

3. Hitchcock makes his cameo appearance at the top of the scene, he is walking out of the pet shop and passes Tippi Hedron....he is walking two dogs....I was reminded for some reason of the story of Noah's Ark with this cameo....something terrible is going to happen and he is taking his dogs two by two away from the danger to protect them....of course I'm not supposed to know that something terrible is going to happen but that is the feeling I get when I see that cameo. 

 

 


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#17 Master Bates

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 11:32 AM

 
1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a "horror of the apocalypse" film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?
 
------
 
AN UPSCALE, WELL-LIT pet shop is antithetical to the typical horror film setting. It isn't a fog-shrouded castle in Transylvania, or some mad scientist's laboratory. But it's typical of Hitchcock to open in a public place--in this case, a pet shop with many well-heeled patrons; and, on the second floor, LOTS of birds. It's here that our two stars--'Tippi' Hedren and Rod Taylor--"meet cute", not unlike Tracy and Hepburn in their romantic comedies, or other players in screwball comedies.
 
(But literally hovering ominously over this cute first encounter is that large flock of various species of birds that we see even before "Melanie" enters the pet shop. Hitchcock plants the hint that something is amiss in Nature even before "Melanie" begins her flirtatious "mating dance" in the store.)
 
When "Mitch" (Rod Taylor) mistakes "Melanie" ('Tippi' Hedren) for a clerk, she finds him attractive and plays along, as she tries to sound knowledgeable when answering his questions about various species.
He wants to buy a pair of love birds for his sister's 11th birthday. When he says he wouldn't want them to be "too aloof," he's really commenting on his first impression of "Melanie" herself. Another of Hitchcock's "cool, icy blondes," Hedren is the most exotic thing in the pet shop. (Hitchcock irony here: in the pet store, the birds are caged and "Mitch" is looking for love birds, while just outside the store, birds are free--free to fly, to soar...and, eventually, attack.)
Fine-boned, with bird legs, Hedren gives the impression that, like a bird, if startled she might just fly away. Hedren's finely groomed hands are featured in many shots of the opening scene. Bony-fingered with blood-red nails, her hands are not unlike a bird's claws. There's something off-putting about the way she's dressed. Although her attire is stylish, she's dressed in an armor-like, tight-fitting suit--solid black--and almost fetishistically groomed.
 
Before she enters the pet store, someone on the sidewalk gives her an off-screen wolf whistle. She stops and accepts the whistle with a beaming smile. But once she's in the store she never really smiles. At moments, she almost smiles. But, like a bird, her face remains almost constantly in repose, frozen, expressionless, like that of a bloodless store mannequin. She seems cold, icy--almost frigid. Even when she's obviously attracted to "Mitch," she plays it cool, never giving him a smile, big or small.
 
Other than a small amount of white blouse showing at her neck and slightly beyond the jacket sleeves, she's all in black. In light of Hitchcock's meticulous attention to detail, this isn't by accident.
The barest amount of visible white could signify at least some capacity for "good" beneath "Melanie's" black, icy and blonde (!) exterior.
Hedren's black-over-white is a reversal of Kim Novak's white coat over black sweater in VERTIGO when she delivers a note to "Scotty's" apartment, thanking him for pulling her out of San Francisco Bay. In that film, the attire is a manifestation of something dark beneath the façade--the act--that Judy, as "Madeleine", is trying to project to "Scotty."
Another example of black vs. white appears in separate scenes of the first twelve minutes of PSYCHO. In the opening scene, when we discover Janet Leigh and John Gavin in their adulterous affair, Leigh is wearing a white slip. Although she's committing adultery, Hitchcock in this scene elicits our sympathy for her. Not only is she wearing white, Hitchcock increasingly uses tighter shots of Leigh over Gavin, making it obvious she is going to be the main player in the story. The color white also denotes that her love for "Sam" is pure. Later, after her boss gives her $40,000 to deposit over the weekend, we discover her at home, packing a suitcase. In this scene, she's now wearing a black slip and bra. Hitchcock is letting her exterior clothing tell us about her interior, immoral decision to steal the money.
 
In THE BIRDS, when we meet "Melanie," there's something mysterious about her, even ominous--perhaps as ominous as that dark, agitated cloud of birds swarming and swooping above her before she enters the store on her fast-footed, bird legs. Despite her freedoms as the spoiled daughter of a rich man, she's as "caged" as those pet store birds--caged in Daddy's money. She's overly groomed, artificial. But this veneer, by movie's end, will be stripped--or, rather, painstakingly pecked--away.
 
In that opening scene, are the birds swarming with "Melanie" as their intended target?
 
As the story unfolds, we will learn that she's the daughter of a San Francisco newspaper publisher, a "playgirl" with nothing to do except...play. And get in trouble.
 
By movie's end, she will be a changed person, having (barely) survived her "baptism by fire"--the near-apocalyptic attacks by the birds. Nature's force will have sparked in her a maternal protectiveness over "Mitch's" little sister and a mature and growing relationship with "Mitch." Of course, to reach this point, she will first be attacked by a seagull while crossing Bodega Bay in an outboard motor boat; a large flock will gather on the schoolyard jungle gym, as if waiting for her, then attack her as she tries to hustle the children to safety; they again attack when she seeks refuge in a phone booth. In the film's climax, the birds will seem to be waiting for her in the attic. In what amounts to a virtual rape scene, "Melanie"--and Hedren, who reportedly had to be hospitalized after shooting the scene--is driven into shock when the birds come close to pecking her to death, tearing her clothes-- her polished (phony?) exterior--to shreds.
 
In contrast to "Melanie" in the opening scene, "Mitch" is serious and no-nonsense, apparently successful in his own right. Dressed for success in a suit, he's also obviously kind as he's taking the time to buy his little sister a special birthday gift. Above all, he's savvy. Although he at first mistakes "Melanie" for a clerk, he rather quickly picks up on the fact that when it comes to birds, she's a bird-brain, apparently knowing nothing at all about things ornithological. And yet, he's intrigued by her play-acting, her cool flirtatiousness. From his point of view, she may be a little wacky--and she may appear more than a little unobtainable-- but he's attracted.
 
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2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?
 
WHEN THE CAMERA picks up "Melanie" crossing the intersection beneath a cloud of swarming birds, Hitchcock emphasizes the visual with the loud crowing and cawing of the birds. As if to ensure we "get it," the sound of the birds seems to be amplified, as if emanating from an echo chamber, giving the effect that Nature is always surrounding us and is, ultimately, dominant.
This sound effect must be the result, as pointed out in the lecture notes, of the electroacoustic Trautonium, invented by Dr. Friedrich Trautwein, something Hitchcock had heard on the radio way back in the 1920s. Once again, we see Hitchcock experimenting with (in this case, old) technology, but using it in a new way--in film.
In short, in 1963, when THE BIRDS was released, Hitchcock, at age 63, was not above trying new things.
 
Meanwhile, Hitchcock's masterful composer Bernard Herrmann, while on staff for THE BIRDS, wasn't exactly composing another memorable movie score, but instead was working with the electronic composer to create a soundtrack composed completely of actual and electronic bird sounds.
 
Was this Hitchcock's way of pulling rank on Herrmann, getting back at the composer for having had so much to do with the success of VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST and PSYCHO? What a pity that after MARNIE, Hitchcock fired Herrmann when the latter's score for TORN CURTAIN wasn't the jazz-inflected score that Hitchcock had requested.
 
I must say that as much as I admire Hitchcock's genius, his greatest, most popular films--VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, PSYCHO--would not be what they are--would not stick in the mind as they do--without Herrmann's music. It's exactly how I feel about the films of Steven Spielberg. They needed John Williams's scores to be the iconic films that they've become.
 
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3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.
 
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HITCHCOCK'S CAMEO in THE BIRDS has him coming out of the pet store just as "Melanie" is entering it. His two white Sealyham terriers--Stanley and Geoffrey--are on leashes and are leading him out of the store onto the sidewalk. His real-life lookalike dogs are yet another example of his favored motif of "doubles." We saw it in SHADOW OF A DOUBT ("Uncle Charlie" and his favored niece "Charlie"); in THE WRONG MAN, when "Manny" is falsely accused of armed robbery simply because of the doppelgänger effect: he bears a striking resemblance to the actual criminal); in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN ("Guy's" wife "Miriam" and her lookalike, "Anne's" younger sister, "Barbara"); in VERTIGO ("Judy" as "Madeleine" and "Judy" as herself); in PSYCHO (the "doubles" of a split personality: "Norman" and "Mrs. Bates").
 
In the opening scene of THE BIRDS, "Melanie" seems to be a double of herself. As stated earlier, we've seen her give a big smile to a total stranger on the street and yet, when she meets "Mitch" and seems interested in him, she withholds such a smile and plays it cool. Is this the two sides---Good Girl vs. Bad Girl--of her personality. I do believe because Hitchcock introduces "Melanie" with this seeming duality, she's a mystery magnet that pulls us into the movie and makes us want to know more. Like, "What IS it with this woman?! What's her story?"
 
I've wondered why Hitchcock was so intrigued by this idea of doubles. Was it merely the juxtaposition and filmic possibilities of "black vs. white," "good vs. evil", "yin vs. yang"? Or was it something else? One thing's for sure: it certainly gave him numerous opportunities to show "surface," then startle--and sometimes shock--us with the "underneath."

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#18 FilmFan39

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 08:01 PM

1. The opening scene of The Birds setups a meet cute between Melanie and Mitch. Mitch is attracted to Melanie who is thinks is works in the pet store. After asking a few questions he realizes that Melanie dosen't know a lot about birds but continues the conversation.

 

2. At first you have the noise of the seagulls that are swarming in from the sea as Melanie heads towards the Pet Shop. As she enters the shop the bird sounds intensify until that is almost all you can hear drowning out any human interaction.

 

 

 

3. Hitchcock is seen leaving Davidson's Pet Shop with two small terriers a pair if you will that mirrors the two love birds that Mitch comes in looking for in contrast to Melanie's lone Mina Bird.


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#19 melissasimock

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 06:06 PM

In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

 

We see the symbolism of 'couples', and reference to love birds.  We witness the flirtation between to people who just met, and are attracted to one another.  Other than not being able to escape the bird sounds, the scene has a lighter feel to it.  

Melanie is looking for a companion.  Mitch has a sister who is much younger than he is, and he cares for her.  Mitch is also knowledgable of birds, and is well aware Melanie doesn't know what she's talking about, but sort of goes along with it anyway.

 

 

How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

 

The bird sounds are very loud, especially when they are in the store.  They are louder than the humans.  The birds outside are loud too, and get your attention.  You can't escape the bird sounds here.  It's a sound that is usually relaxing and enjoyable.  But here it becomes unnerving.  

 

 

The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.

 

In relation to the scene, it's not an accident that Hitch walks out of the store with two dogs, a couple. And not just two dogs, but two of the dame kind of dog.  Mitch has come to the store for a pair of lover birds, a couple.  Melanie comes into the store to get a single bird, who talks, to be her companion, but meets a human companion.  This is where Melanie and Mitch meet for the first time, and start to couple up.

 


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#20 Jennifer Anne

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Posted 01 August 2017 - 02:48 PM

1. The opening sequence is lighthearted; I expected to hear playful or even mischievous music as I watched Hedren crossing the street and entering the pet shop. Hedren and Taylor's relationship begins with a standard romantic comedy "meet cute", complete with a mistaken identity and playful dialogue. The location of the scene--a pet store in San Francisco--plus the seemingly benign errand both stars are engaging in--purchasing birds--is also charming.

We learn that Melanie has purchased a rare exotic bird, yet seems to know nothing about birds in general; she finds Mitch attractive and flirts with him, pretending to be a store clerk. Rod Taylor, on the other hand, is fairly knowledgeable about birds, buying lovebirds for his sister, and while initially mistaking Melanie for a clerk, plays along with her game as he begins to realize his error. As in a romantic comedy, both stars find each other attractive and intriguing.

2. The sound design creates a seemingly calm atmosphere with a slightly eerie or anxious undertone. Bird calls normally indicate a pastoral setting; you do not expect to hear them so loudly during the day within the centre of a city like San Francisco. When Hedren is walking outside, the sky is slightly overcast and the sound of the birds feels like an approaching storm (the pet shop proprietor vocalizes the possibility). Once in the pet shop, the sound is a cacophony--definitely louder and more frantic than you would expect in your typical pet store. We are not seeing anything unusual in this beginning sequence, but we are hearing something that is unexpected and a little unsettling.

3. Hitchcock, in a dark suit, is exiting Davidson's pet shop with two white schnauzers (?) and brushes by Hedren as she enters. The cameo occurs right after Hedren notices the flock of seagulls circling in the sky. My guess is that Hitchcock did not want to be a distraction from the suspense-building later in the film, so he inserts himself at the beginning. It's a humorous cameo, what with the title of the film being "The Birds", the only sounds we hear are birds, Hedren is whistled at (another bird-like sound), and the circling seagulls, but we see Hitchcock with two dogs.




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