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 Birds is my 2nd favorite Hitchcock next to Psycho. Contrary to the question I do sense a slight "horror apocalypse" foreshadowing in the opening scene mixed with dark and romantic comedy elements. Maybe that is because I first saw this movie at age 6 and was really creeped out by it. I have never been a big birds fan when it came to nature or pets. As a child, there was a a large jungle jim near in the elementary school park. One October it was cloudy and I remember the black crows gathering in packs nearly 40 of them... it was so reminiscent of the schoolhouse scene from the movie that I couldn't even go outside to play. I remember even "not wanting" to go to school because of the the Birds. In addition I currently live in a beautiful historical area of Long Beach, CA with many palm trees. At certain times of the year, 100s of wild green parrots from Mexico fly into the palms in front of my condo. In fact I have a panoramic glass window view of these palms. Some mornings I'm waken up to the cacophony of parrot chirping that is so unsettling and then there is the retaliation of bird **** all over the cars that are forced to park on the street because many condos, and buildings in the old historic district I live in have no garages. I also once was driving on PCH in Huntington Beach and a gull actually did crash into my car! So though I doubt a bird apocolypse is possible, I do believe that smaller bird attacks and bizarre bird incidents are! I also had crows that bit through telephone wires on my roof disconnecting my phone on 3 occasions. I had to change to cell phone only. Crazy huh? Do like birds? (NO NO NO). I also have 2 friends who have parrots. I can't stand the grating noise they make, the molting feathers and the smell. UGG. so freaky.
Ok sorry now to the movie: I always loved San Fran, and of course TIppi is the typical Hitchcock blonde, graceful and beautiful. I find it interesting that she is dressed in black business outfit which foreshadows danger. The one shot of the black birds in the sky... freak me out!!! Where others might not think about it.... I remember the first time I saw that .. was like Oh god time to move out of SF LOL. When Tipppi (Melanie) enteres the shop... I'm easily as unsettled ... all those birds flapping their wings in cages to me is unsettling.
Rod Taylor is in my opinion a pretty sexy actor. I love him in this movie. I love how he mistakens Tippi (Melanie) for the shop girl. The flirtation is funny but the talk of birds foreshadow events to come. Esp.. talking about birds being locked up.. It sets up the bird attacks so perfectly. Even though I found the dark comedy/romantic elements sexy and fun.. I 'm always thinking.. what is one of those damn birds gets out of the cage and plucks Tippi's eye out.
I like how Hitch uses social class in development of characters.. Tippi (Melanie) is rich and expects to ALWAYS gets what she wants. She is cross with the shop girl. "Where are my birds" they are so suppose to be here. Have them delivered to my penthouse etc. This theme will lead her on her obsessive chase to get Rod Taylor (Mitch) into bed and romance (I don't blame her LOL). The banter of Mitch buying love birds for his baby sis, and not wanting birds too "demonstrative" is funny to me. I love Hitchcock's humor in this movie which is what makes The Birds so bizarre when the attacks start. BIRDS is just plain bizarre and creepy which is why I love it.
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?
Bernard Herrmann's sound design is brilliant. The sound of birds to me is always unnsettleing. Crazy. Again in the store all the background cacophony of birds creates tension. That is what I sense in the opening scene. Tensions of traffic, and mobs of people in a big city like SF, tensions of the birds in cages and the flock of birds in the sky, sexual tension between Mitch and Melanie, the tension the shop girl feels that Melanie's order is not ready. The background track ads to the tension and I love how Herrmann's bird tracks build and build through the movie It just gets more crazy till the bird war. Creepy as hell.
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 always love Hitch's cameos. We always see the use of duality in Hitch's movies; good and evil, sexual and passive, black and white, etc. I think the duo of Hitch's pet dogs forshadlow that all relationships can go randomly from compatible to feuding. Many 2s (2 love birds) Mitch/Melanie, etc. I think the 2 dogs also subliminally say "Mans best friends" aka safety in numbers... that Melanie and Mitch will be forced to come together to save themselves and others from the birds. Notice how many birds we see in the opening scene. The only other animals are the brief glimpse of Hitch's dogs.