Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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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 sun is shinning. It’s a beautiful day. Certainly too nice for the world to come to an end. Hitchcock let’s most of us know she is in San Francisco with the cable car but for those who do not, he supplied a big poster that says where we are. Melanie has a very pleasant disposition, even stops and turns and smiles at the men who whistle at her. (I find this extremely unrealistic. She must get whistled at often and I doubt she pays any interest to it anymore. It annoyed me. I would think Hitch would have known better tan that or someone should have mentioned it.)

 

 

This opening reminds me of the dining car scene from N X NW because of her overt flirting and sexual connotations. The flustered pet shop woman provides the comedy in the film, as does Melanie pretending she works in the shop when Mitch asks for her help. But she has an ulterior motive. She is immediately attracted to him and begins her undisguised flirting. The pen becomes more than a writing utensil. She must be single and looking for a relationship. We can’t tell as of yet if he notices her flirtation. (If he doesn’t, we learn Mitch must have some sort of visual disorder!! :) ) There are quite a few sexual innuendoes dropped here “molting?” “Love birds.”

 

Melanie gives him wrong information about a bird and she doesn’t seem flustered when he corrects her. Nor does he get angry. Hitch wants us to see the beginnings of their attraction to each other, and we see her’s.

 

We have learned she is a well to do business woman in a hurry. From the buildings around her, she either works in a wealthy part of San Francisco or lives near there. Minor Birds were expensive back then.

 

 

We don’t learn as much about Mitch. He is dressed like a businessman. He seems to be playful, patient and thoughtful. We know he has a younger sister. Quite an age difference! It seems odd that he wants to buy birds for a gift when he thinks it cruel to keep them locked up in cages. (A verbal foreshadow.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 hear the “clang of the trolley” which is almost completely covered by the sounds of the huge flock of birds (seagulls as we learn later). The sight of so many birds, circling tightly is unsettling. Melanie thinks so too. They seem to be upset about something. Hitch makes certain we hear every sound on that city street, including the sound of her high heels. The birds in the pet shop are restless as well but their chirps sound different than the ominous sound of the gulls outside.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Hitchcock walks out of the pet shop with his *two* dogs. He could have easily chosen to have one dog but the number two is meaningful to him. It implies duality, as we’ve seen early on e.g. “The Lodger” then “more recently” in “Vertigo” and “Psycho,” We also know, for Hitchcock, “seeing double” is a very abnormal state. These typical bird like personas are changing. Is their DNA reverting to their prehistoric ancestors? They begin to show a darker side. They are not burring this anymore.

 

But the three of them, Hitch and his two puppies, appear oblivious to the birds and everything else around them. Life is so much better for them right now because ignorance is bliss.

 

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Daily Dose #18

Daily Dose #18: Love Birds 

Opening Scene from Psycho (1960)

 

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?

 

I think that the romantic comedic nature of the scene is clearer when Melanie gets in the pet shop and the character of Mitch appeares. The entire interaction between them when she pretends to be a seller has a comedic tone showed in the dialogue and its content.  Also, the lighting of the scene in that moment (absence of sharp shadows and darkness) and the change in the sound score inside the store (outside there is a worrying sense that I woud talk about in the next question) are more in tune with the rom com genre than with the horror of the apocalypse. Finally, the presence of the woman and man flirting is related to that as well.

 

In the case of the characters, we learn that Melanie is very confident with herself in the way she behaves in front of Mitch, she is funny and has the courage to make fun of herself and invent that she has knowledge on bird species. Because of the way she looks, it is possible to conclude that she has a comfortable life. At the same time, we can vtell that Mitch knows that she is lying, so the fact that he continues with the game is because he has interest in her or due to his enjoyment in flirting and th control he feels he has on the situation (he knows that she is lying, but she doesn't know he does). Besides that, it is revealed that he has a eleven-year-old sister, that her birthday is soon and he is fond of 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?

 

In my opinion, Hitchcock mainly uses the sound design to create a certain contrast between the street and the pet shop as the normal state and the romantic interaction betweeh Melanie and Mitch and at the same time he evokes what is going to happen later in the movie. In the first place, when Melanie is walking to the store, we can hear seagulls sounds with a sorto of echo that makes them a little bit disturbing as if something was wrong (that is increased by the image of a lot of birds flying around in the sky). Along with that, we can hear the noise of cars passing. Moreover, I would like to point out that the whistle to Melanie works in two senses: on the one hand is a reminder of her beauty and on the other hand, it could be connected with the birds which makes it evocative and funny too (the dark comedy in Hitchcock is present here as well).

 

In opposition, when Melanis is inside the shop, the bird songs are audible but because of the amount of them, the sound feels confusing in some way (probably alluding to the future chaos created by these animals), but this changes when Mitch appeares. The volume decreases and the rom com tone is highlighted. 

 

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.

 

Personally, I love this cameo and I think it can have more than one reading. It can be just connected to the pet shop due to the presence of the dogs. Similarly, we can see that Hitch seems unaware of the sound of the seagulls and the flock of birds that is flying in the sky, therefore, it is another representation of the ignorance of the people about what is going to happen with this animals. Other possibility is that as it is located in the street which is a pretty common and public place (a constant part of Hitch's opening sequences) where the people is walking as part of their daily lives and this is the kind of place and context when it is hard to believe that something like that is going to occur. Even when the birds attack is placed in Bodega Bay, this idea of something bad happening in a quiet or improbable location is maintained.

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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?

a.     The movie begins with a light, comedic mood set by the humorous gesticulations of the shopkeeper, and the flirty banter of Melanie and Mitch, who show themselves to be urbane, fun-loving  players in a romantic sketch.

 

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?

a.     The squeaky, scratchy, squawking of the birds is an unsettling counterpoint to the casual, lackadaisical actions of the humans, who show little attention to contradictory moods. (*See below.)

 

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.

a.     Hitch is a canine-lover, who is handling TWO dogs, which represent…NO, JUST KIDDING – I don’t see any particular meaning, other than it is a cool cameo.

 

**Here is a modern version of the ElectroAcoustic Trautonium - Something Hitchcock would have surely loved! 

That was a terrific video. I got scared just listening to it. Thanks for sharing.

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The real shop clerk is a clear comedic figure. She seems to be a bit scatterbrained and has a silly element. She reminds me in some ways of the kind of character Edward Everett Horton played in many 1930s films.

 

I also noticed that the birds are all upstairs in the pet shop. Hedren's character has to climb a staircase to get there--another classic Hitchcock element. Also the birds are above the rest of the pet store animals and we are getting a bird's eye view almost immediately. It's plain that the birds are not ground animals. There are also lots of birds in that shop and they are shown grouped together. Is this already a portent of the birds ganging up on the humans? I suspect so.

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

Please pardon this horrific pun here, but as is the case in almost any romantic comedy, the male and female interests play a "cat-and-mouse" game involving witty banter and innuendo.  I believe we see exactly that happening in the opening scene between Mitch and Melanie (which means "black" or "dark," I believe?)  When Mitch enters the pet shop--already knowing who Melanie is and joking about returning her to her gilded cage--they discuss several aspects of birds: the various species, which Melanie cannot name or distinguish; the cruelty of caging them; and protecting them, especially during molting season (two themes that are developed throughout the film).  Melanie says molting birds have a "hangdog" look on their faces.  It seems that Mitch has a similar look on his face, adding to the light romantic banter and tension between Melanie and him.  Also, Melanie is there to pick up a Myna bird for her aunt, a bird that is hard to catch according to the shop keeper.  Melanie says they might have to deliver him to her and the bird she is receiving will be full grown, but she will have to teach him (not it) to talk (her colorful words she is learning in a college class).  In some romantic comedies the conflict arises between the love interests because they don't "speak the same language."  Immediately, Mitch (her myna bird?) enters, and the banter begins.  This banter continues later in the film in a scene that reminds me a bit of the scene from North by Northwest.  In the diner scene from The Birds, Melanie tells Mitch, "I loath you," perhaps knocking him down a notch, comparable to Eva Marie Saint standing her ground with Cary Grant?  So, overall, at this point things are light and carefree between them.  The standard formula for a romantic comedy is for the romantic interests to engage in playful banter, then encounter a problem, and according to one definition of comedy overcome the problem and end up together.  Ah, but therein lies the rub in this film.  We do have the give-and-take; we do have a problem; the couple does end up together.  But at what cost in The Birds.  And has Melanie ("dark") brought "darkness" to Bodega Bay, as some characters speculate?

 

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 love the basic, stripped down, simplified score for this film, with all due respect to Herrmann's concerns about that.  Birds can be harbingers of many things, some good, some bad.  They can announce the coming of spring and the coming of winter (as was the case, I believe, in the original story?).  They can also presage death, especially all of the black birds that gather around Melanie while she sits outside the school.  As the film begins, nothing really foretells any danger.  As Melanie crosses the street, all we can really hear, aside from traffic, are the birds.  The first indication that something might be amiss is the number of birds hovering above the water.  However, the shop keeper logically explains that they are probably there because of a storm at sea.  As an interesting side note, interesting to me anyway, I like how when the young boy whistles at Tippi Hedren, it sounds just like a bird.  Another note from the opening exterior shot: I noticed several billboards for airline companies.  Does this help to establish the major theme of this film: the idea that animals have finally revolted against man because man has imposed himself on nature?  With airplanes, men have tried to simulate flight and imitate birds.  Only one reason the birds don't like us?  The film doesn't need an elaborate musical score to accompany the sounds of the birds.  The bird sounds are more horrifying on their own.  I remember first seeing this film as a child and being traumatized then.  I re-watched it today, and thought it was still frightening, without using the cheap, over-the-top gimmicks that film makers use today to shock an audience.  A "bird in the hand" of Hitchcock beats two Human Centipede films any day.

 

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 already began to address what I see as one of the major themes in this film in response number two: animals, more specifically birds, revolt against man who has invaded upon nature for too long.  Man tries to tame and domesticate animals that thrive better in a more natural habitat.  Perhaps dogs do not like to be put on leashes.  For in doing so, if those dogs were ever left to fend for themselves later, they might not survive unless they regain their natural instincts.  I could be wrong.  It could just be Hitchcock establishing the notion of couples: two dogs, two love birds, Mitch and Melanie, Mitch and the teacher, even Mitch and his mother?  However, other details and events in the film also suggest that Hitchcock is establishing a theme of revolt and how man is at the mercy of forces beyond his control or how we must pay the price for our previous selfish actions (as indicated in the notes for today: The Birds as horror of the apocalypse).  Man, by his nature, tends to impose himself and his will on other entities.  The farmers till the soil (nature); they raise animals (nature); we kill animals for food (three chicken dinners at the diner in one scene).  Man is conscious of his actions; animals react more instinctively to defend themselves.  Mitch is a lawyer who talks about putting men behind bars.  Animals should not be caged.  I realize I am digressing from the question, but I think in some way these ideas do relate to Hitchcock walking his own two dogs on leashes.  And one final note about the birds in the pet shop:  Mitch and Melanie mention canaries at one point.  Canaries have been used as harbingers of danger, with miners taking them into coal mines.  Man should heed warnings from nature and learn from his past mistakes?

 

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Actually despite the flirty nature between the two characters, I still find this opening scene ominous. The only thing that is light and cute is the little boy first whistling at Melanie. As Melanie enters the pet store and walked up the steps, the birds sound very agitated by her presence. I think I am overcome by the singing birds. That is to say that is why I never felt the feeling of a romantic comedy unfolding. Of course the movie is called "the birds". So I may have already made up my mind. But I do remember the first time I saw this movie. I felt an ominous presence from the birds. By the way I really love birds. So I have no preconceived issue.

Again the only cute bird sound of me was when the little boy bird whistled at Melanie. Other than that I just always felt and unease from the birds songs. As far as our two characters we learn a lot about oh shoot what's the name rod Taylor's character but we learn nothing about Melanie. Except she wants a talking bird and she's having fun playing with Taylor.

As far as Hitchcock's cameo, that feels lighthearted. It feels like he's leaving the scene of the impending crime. He gets out before the horror begins. Other than that I'm of no use to anyone today LOL have a wonderful day

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Daily Dose #18: Love Birds 

Opening Scene from Psycho (1960)

 

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 starts on what seems to be a very beautiful day. As Melanie is walking to the store, a little boy whistles at her which brings a smile to her face. Although she sees a huge flock of birds flying around and making a fuss, she still thinks that her day will go well as she proceeds to pick up her order. In the store she meets Mitch who mistakes her for the shop keeper. Melanie seemly, flirts with him playing along with his innocence of who she is. Mitch is looking for "love birds". These scenes are definitely romantic comedy and not a horror of the apocalypse.

 

What we learn about Melanie and Mitch in this first take, is that they seem to be quite opposite. Melanie knows nothing about birds as seen with the shop keeper as well as when she encounters Mitch. Mitch just assumes that the beautiful blonde he sees when he looks up the stairs is the shop keeper. Mitch knows more about birds and provides enough information to the audience that he does - while Melanie attempts to try to make him aware that she knows about them.

 

 

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?

 

Hitchcock uses sound design in this opening sequence by creating a perfect city atmosphere by the sea (San Francisco sign) - with birds flying high and chirping - the bustle of the the people walking, cars passing and the streetcar (trolley) going by all seem to create a serene yet busy atmosphere. Even the little boy who whistles at Melanie seems to be imitating the birds.

 

 

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 famous Hitchcock cameo was when Hitchcock himself came out of the Pet Shop with two dogs on a leash passing Melanie as she entered the store.

 

After viewing the cameo, I was convinced that the Hitchcock cameo had a particular meaning in relation to this scene only because he walked out of the Davidson's Pet Shop (shops sign) with two dogs. And then I realized that this is his touch that he created for each of his movies and that they really have no meaning. Only to him- I read that he started doing this to get next to his crew and that they started making it harder and harder for him to do. He stated that he had to do it after that.

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Daily Dose #18  "The Birds" 1963

 

This movie is another of my Hitchcock favorites...I have been to Bodega Bay...we drove up from San Francisco & the only reason we were there is because of this movie..."The Birds". I would love to go  there again. I agree that there is little on the way except scenery & then the salt flats. It was three years ago we were there. That area of California has mossy trees that remind me of the Deep South.

 

:Shadow of a Doubt" was filmed in California &  also "Vertigo": in San Francisco...a city I love.

 

I too love to visit iconic film locations!  This is how the "Bodgea Bay School House" looked in 2012 as a private residence.

 

IMG_4635_zpsy9v67rmp.jpg

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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?

 

If I were unfamiliar with this film and saw this scene out of context, it's not out of the question that I'd assume I'm about to watch a romantic comedy of some sort for sure. To start with the obvious, the opening scene focuses on the meet-cute between the two main characters and it's flirtatious right from the get-go. Their banter is also lighthearted and really quite humorous. You get the impression the movie will largely be about the progression of the relationship between these two characters and in many ways, it is. Also, right before Melanie enters the store, she smiles at a wolf whistle she receives, hinting that we're about to watch something that deals with not only raw attraction, but also with the way different individuals might react to it. 

 

The colors, lighting, energy, and general treatment in this entire scene seem more like what I'd expect to see in a romantic comedy as well. Unlike the openings of Psycho and numerous other Hitch films, nothing feels ominous or dark at all. The atmosphere isn't heavy or pensive, but is instead punctuated by tweeting birds -- something I usually associate with happy times and sunny days that are going well. Pet shops are also settings I associate with families and playfulness in general -- another ordinary Hitch setting where you wouldn't expect anything bad to be brewing. 

 

As far as what we find out about these characters, we learn that both Melanie and Mitch are witty, smart, and quick -- the type of people that are good at thinking fast and improvising. This is demonstrated by their entertaining banter as Melanie pretends to work in the pet store and Mitch pretends not to know she doesn't. We learn Mitch has a younger sister who's having a birthday soon and the way he speaks about her makes me think he might almost play a sort of surrogate parent role in her life. 

 

We also learn that Melanie doesn't embarrass easily, as she recovers quickly when Mitch points out she misinformed him about the different species of birds. Melanie doesn't let her obvious lack of knowledge about birds stop her from feeling totally comfortable pretending to sell them for a living either, so we know she's good in situations that put her way outside of her wheelhouse as well. If I were stuck in the middle of an apocalyptic situation, Melanie is totally the type of person I'd want in my corner helping me think my way through it. I'd gladly take Mitch too.

 

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?

 

As I mentioned above, the tweets and calls of birds are sounds I strongly associate with happiness, good times, and peaceful settings in general. The prevalence of those sounds in this scene is part of what lends it the feel of a much more lighthearted type of film. However, I also couldn't help but notice that the volume of the tweeting and bird noises combined with the sheer number of birds in the shop is also a little overwhelming. Not overwhelming enough to irritate me or distract me from what's going on in the scene, but definitely enough that I noticed it and couldn't help but think: "Dang, that's a lot of birds. How many freakin' birds does one pet shop need?"

 

When you put so many different species together like that and have to listen to them all calling and chirping at once, it further makes something that would normally be cheering and comforting sound eerily unnatural. Even Mitch asks Melanie questions about different bird species and why they don't mix as if Hitch wants to make sure you notice, at least subconsciously. The overall effect leaves me feeling mildly unsettled for reasons it's hard to put a finger on. If I were unfamiliar with the film and hadn't been asked to think about it, I wouldn't have the vaguest idea what about that scene made me feel that way, because it wouldn't make sense to think it was something as harmless or seemingly inconsequential as the birds in the shop -- definitely a foreshadowing of the events to come.

 

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 thing that sticks out the most to me as far as the Hitch cameo here is that he's leaving the store with two dogs. We enter the store to see two people flirting and talking as they play with the idea of pairing up. Mitch is in the store in the first place because he's looking for two lovebirds. He specifies wanting a pair that gets along well together, but not too well -- a pair that behaves in a balanced, manageable way (much like the pair of dogs on the leash). There's also the way the conversation veers into the topics of different bird species and whether or not they mix.

 

Yes, some of it seems like just an excuse for innuendo (or possibly a nod toward the concept of romance and "pairing up" in general), but I think it's more than that. The Birds is all about how natural it is for like creatures to come together, as well as how unnatural that same phenomenon becomes when it occurs past a certain threshold. Two lovebirds together, a couple together, or a family with lots in common together are the sweetest, "rightest" things in the world. Overwhelming numbers of birds or even people that would normally never come together doing exactly that adds up to a mindless, dangerous mob (i.e. zombie hordes) -- something very wrong.

 

Maybe I'm overthinking it, but Hitch coming out of the pet store in the beginning with two dogs seems to underscore these themes a little bit. They are not just random dogs either. They are his dogs -- part of Hitch's real household and family. Also, while he has two of them, they are the same type of dog just like Mitch is buying two birds, but the same species. There's something orderly and normal about the way that looks and feels, unlike the chaotic sight and sound of all the different birds inside the shop Hitch is walking away from.

 

That said, I can't help but recall the fact that Mitch's lovebirds for his sister don't ever seem to "catch" the mania all the other birds have. They remain normal and tame throughout the film and are even taken with the family at the end, almost seeming to underscore the way there are both natural and unnatural ways for living things to come together and remain together. Hitch enjoys placing his films neatly between bookends and it's possible he's doing that with The Birds as well. The film both begins and ends with someone leaving a chaotic scene taking only two of the same kind of animal with them -- kind of like Noah and family did.

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This scene is more appropriate for a romantic comedy as there is lots of flirting, and smiling going on and joking around. It is tongue and cheek, very proper, not risqué. The leading characters are introduced to one another and seem suitable. It is a believable match and we are led to want to see what will happen with the two of them down the road. It piques one's curiosity. They both are at the store looking for the same thing, love birds and he thinks she works  at the pet store

as she plays along while waiting for love birds. They too will become coupled up like 'love birds'.

 

At first, we hear the birds as they are in the flying around or perching in the sky. Then as Melanie approaches the store, she looks at the sky and observes the birds making louder chirping sounds and it becomes quite loud and somewhat of a warning, or signal to reflect dark times. They are grouping together in large formation in the sky. 

Once inside the store, there is nothing but bird chirping and activity surrounding the couple suggests their relationship could be entangled with love birds and birds in general. Here the bird chirping is not so unusual. The store clerk suggests there are so many gulls outside making noise, etc. due to a storm coming. Again, this is a foreshadowing reference of a literal storm of birds.

 

The cameo is great as here you have Hitchcock leaving a pet store with two dogs. Melanie is there to pick up two love birds, so there is the focus on duality, and the couple meeting as well. 

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  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 unique conversation about what type of birds that Mitch would love to buy from the store. Then there's that moment where she forgets the name of the Strawberry Finches and she calls them Red Birds. It has elements of boy meets girl scenario as well as the awkward first meeting of mistaken identity and getting the idea of what birds are doing in a cage than just be free and about. We learn that Mitch is a bird lover and that Melanie is just working at the bird store. And the fact that they represent the upper-class persona in 1960's America.

     

  2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? He creates the ambient tension, that something foreboding is awaiting our main characters in the city of San Francisco. In the sequence where Melanie is in the pet shop and Mitch is shopping for the love birds, the birds in the store create a loud and chaotic environment that makes it discerning for the audience and the characters in the store. 

 

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 the director walking his two terriers outside of the store. I think what the scene symbolizes is that he is the puppet master behind our two characters that will have an encounter in the store later on in this sequence.

 

Edited by BLACHEFAN

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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 light hearted banter and flirting between Mitch and Melanie. There is a instant chemistry between the two, a playfulness. Both know the other is flirting and both continue to encourage it by using the discussion of the birds as a ruse.

 

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 sounds are very apparent, enough to make Melanie stop and take notice. It creates a surreal atmosphere, one where you begin to expect something is not quite right..and something odd is about to happen. Melanie going into the shop, her birds being late. Mitch coming in, thinking she works there. The opening score sets the events that follow in an interesting way.

 

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 think in a subtle way it does. Dogs on a leash....leading to a discussion of birds in a cage. Both instances show man's desire to harness or domesticate creatures who were born to roam free and unbridled. The cameo lays the foundation for the insuring discussion between Mitch and Melanie

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"Love Birds".  You know, after studying these Hitchcock film years I have come to the conclusion that Alfred Hitchcock loved making movies with sexuality.  And so, in this THE BIRDS -- twosomes. Though horror, how could he have his signature horror without his signature romance, or sex.  All his films in some way deal with sex or sexuality, either underlying or not so underlying.  And it seems Hitchcock was pretty riske in that regard with his filmmaking, especially for that time period. He ventured where many dared not go, and he got away with it, and it worked, and he kept on going, he was genius in the way he put it all together.

This opening scene may seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a horror in that right from the start the minute Melanie looks up and sets eyes on Mitch she decides to play with him letting him think she works there; she's enjoying it.  So what we learn about Melanie and Mitch through their interaction in this scene is (1) they look good together, (2) Melanie likes him, (3) Melanie is flirting with him, and (4) he begins to recognize Melanie, and he likes her, and that (5) they will be a romantic focus in the story, the substory to The Birds story.  

I think Hitchcock uses sound design in this opening sequence to put us the audience at the edge of our seats with the sounds of birds -- and the set of birds.  

Yes, the sounds of birds are used to create the mood and atmosphere of a bird horror story we are about to see.  They sound like something we all never wish to hear from the birds that surround us each and every day -- that ferocious sound and who knows what they will do.

Hitchcock's cameo in this opening scene is cute.  His two dogs, I guess male and female.  And so it probably does have particular meaning in relation to the scene as we then see Mitch asking for love birds -- "two" birds, and then we see Melanie and Mitch and we just know from that encounter that a romantic storm is about to brew between them.

 

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

 

Emphasizes typical Hollywood “cute” boy meets girl combined with references mirroring romantic meet of Grant and Saint in North By Northwest:

Roger not aware that Eve knows who he is vs. Melanie not aware Mitch knows her identity

Roger attempts to hide his identity vs. Melanie pretends to be a sales clerk

Eve makes clear she desires Roger vs. Melanie being only annoyed by Mitch

Eve reveals Rogers true identity vs. Mitch revealing who Melanie really is

 

1b. What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

 

They are alike in that they enjoy playing a prank of deception. Melanie is willing to enter a situation on a whim, feeling confident she can bluff her way through, especially with someone like Mitch. Mitch is thorough, leading Melanie on in the manner of an attorney, which of course he is.

 

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 of the birds outside the pet shop is used to give a brief hint of ominous things to come. They are loud enough to be more prominent than the street traffic, Melanie’s footsteps and almost obscure the admiring whistle of boy passing by. Once the action moves into the pet shop the sounds take the audience in the opposite direction, seeming to be nothing more what one would hear in a pet shop. The initial volume is lower than that of the gulls outside, plus it rises and falls in accordance with the spoken dialog allowing the characters lines to stand out.   

 

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.

 

Hitchcock’s placed his cameo in the beginning of his movies to avoid the audience being distracted from the plot by constantly waiting for it’s appearance later in the movie. Also references North By Northwest cameo featuring Hitchcock entering from frame left only to be stopped by doors closing in his face vs. his passing thru doorway to exit frame left in The Birds.

 

Some classmates have stated he uses the cameo to emphasize a note of anxiety by leaving the pet shop in a hurry. One even mentioned a dog looking upwards as if to point to the birds above. I can’t see either. Hitchcock seems to be walking at a normal pace, for a man that has two dogs tugging at him; and the one dog on the right appears to almost break the fourth wall by glancing at the camera or someone on the set. 

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The opening scene contains the "boy meets girl" quality in romantic comedies. Melanie and Mitch has a playfulness quality to them. They both are charming and good looking. The birds are louder than the traffic and the sound of the city. Melanie is concerned and scared when she sees the birds flying around, hearing them. When she goes in the pet shop, the volume of the birds are lowered. Once the characters are having a conversation, the volume of the birds gets louder again. Hitchcock's cameo has been a game to the audience. When he comes out of the pet shop with the two dogs, it seems like a normal day.

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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) through their interactions in this scene?

 

Melanie, if I may say, resembles an exotic bird herself. She likes the looks of Mitch when he enters the pet shop so she playfully pretends to work there, offering to help him pick out a pair of love birds. It quickly becomes clear to Mitch she knows nothing about birds but he goes along with her charade because he's attracted to her as well. Cute couple being cute.

 

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 gulls are restless. They're massing in the western sky and carrying on quite a conversation via the trautonium. The birds are ominous shadows on a bright sunny afternoon.

 

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.

 

As Melanie turns from watching the gulls to enter the pet store, Hitchcock and his brace of terriers exit the store. One of the dogs pauses and appears to notice the birds gathering as well. The cameo means nothing. Or perhaps it symbolizes mankind's uneasy relationship with nature by his futile attempt to leash it.

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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?

 

As the scene unfolds, we see that there is subtle flirting taking place. However, it is a little embarrassing because it's clear that Melanie has no particular knowledge of birds, and that Mitch seems like a better candidate to work in the bird shop than she does. She pretends to know all about birds, especially to defend herself when he puts her on the spot. 

 

We learn that Melanie isn't easily stifled, where she obvious has had experience with men and knows how to deal with them. She knows how to defend herself, well mostly when it's needed. Mitch is the type of man who knows what he wants, and how to be on a woman's level. The lovebirds refers to not only the birds that Mitch wants to get for his sister, but they also describe the beginning relationship between Melanie and Mitch. At first there a dislike between them, but as we all know the overall story, they'll eventually fall in love. It's only just a matter of time.

 

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?

 

I think the sound design is used to express the point that something may be amiss with birds. This is apparent when Melanie is going to the bird store, where she looks up and sees birds flying. She notices that maybe something is wrong. At first, the sounds of the birds are normal and even pitched, but as we follow Melanie in the store, they seem to get louder and more erratic. It's like they notice something about her that they don't like, but it's never explained. When it comes to the sounds; the louder they become, the more unnerved the audience gets. They're not exactly sounds that we usually hear from birds. 

 

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.

 

Although I've seen the film so many times, I never really think about the meaning behind Hitch's cameo in it. I just thought that it was a fun but and Hitch being Hitch. However, now that I think about it, the two dogs does seem to represent a pattern of 'doubles', such as the lovebirds; Melanie and Mitch; Annie and Melanie; Cathy and Melanie; Cathy and Lydia; Lydia and Melanie; Mitch and Lydia. There are many scenes where there are only two characters in them. Except for the lovebirds, we see how characters interact and play off each other. I may be wrong, but this is only my analysis. 

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"Sure The Birds was a fantasy." - Hitchcock
"But it had such a tremendous air of reality to it, nevertheless." - Interviewer
"Ah, but so do nightmares." - Hitchcock
 
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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 scene is completely a romantic comedy. We have the beautiful girl Melanie crossing the street in high heels. We have a cat call from a passerby, she even stops to turn around and give a smile. Once Mitch comes into the store, Melanie immediately pretends to be a worker and begins to flirt with him. He returns the flirty banter as they talk about love birds and molting.
 
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 really like the risk that Hitchcock took here. Coming of so many great opening sequences with the title designs of Saul Bass and the iconic music of Bernard Herrmann, it was a big call to decide not to utilize them. But, it works. Having the sound of the birds outside right off the bat sets the tone for the film. Then the birds inside the store, although initially a bit too loud because it's a bit hard to hear over them, still works well. I don't think a musical score would have ruined the film, but I like how out of the box Hitch was still thinking from a creative standpoint at this point in his career. 
 
There's also something subconsciously eerie about only hearing the birds. Watching a film, our minds are typically used to hearing a score. Right off the bat something is awry, something is unsettling and not right. We may not even notice it right away. It's brilliant.
 
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.
 
To me the meaning aside from his love of "doubles" is that it signifies the duality of the upcoming themes. We have the male and female meet cute coming up. I'm thinking the dogs in the cameo could represent a male and female. Or at least a couple. The duality of the "free" seagulls outside vs. the birds used as pets that are caged inside. Mitch also brings up the question about having these birds in cages. Perhaps a reference of how he views females. Also, an interesting point here in the same vain would be to ask about dogs on leashes. Are they free? 

Then you think about how eventually the birds begin to attack and terrorize humans for no known reason. Are they tired of being lower on the food chain? Will they continue to attack? Will other animals, pets such as Hitchcock's dogs eventually start to attack also in this apocalyptic scenario?
 
giphy.gif
 
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This opening scene certainly feels more like a romantic comedy or screwball comedy opening than a horror film opening. We have a meet-cute between our two conventionally attractive leading actors. There's a classic case of mistaken identity that often leads to hilarity and romance. Other than the obnoxious bird chirping, there's nothing in this scene to indicate it won't be a lighthearted tale of the hijinks of falling in love.

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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?

 

It is very romantic and comical in that she is mistaken for a clerk in the store and actually goes along with the facade to flirt with the man. The reference to "love birds" is also funny. At one point she asks, " what are you looking for?", as she casually flirts.

We learn that Melanie is classy, probably upper middle class judging by her appearance and dress. We learn she is wanting a particular kind of bird and seems knowledgeable about birds in general. She is very even tempered as she doesn't get visibly upset when she finds out her bird didn't come in. She argues only a little, but in the end, compromises with the owner by giving her address for delivery. We learn that Mitch is also very knowledgeable about birds. I would say even more than she is because he used authentic vocabulary and she just used general terms. He is also upper middle class, judging by his dress and actions.

 

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 birds are the only sound you hear on a busy street. It's so eerie. Then she enters a store, where even more chaotic bird noises are heard. It gives you a foreshadowing as to the role the birds will play, since they are so prevalent. There is no music, just bird noises.

 

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 seen walking his dogs out of the store. It is odd because who walks dogs into a bird store, so you think it's a pet store on first glance , but then it becomes something else, giving us the illusion that things aren't always as they seem. We assumed a pet store, it wasn't. We assume birds are sweet, but they aren't. We assume birds make beautiful songs, but not always. Even Melanie asks why the birds are so upset, and she is told there is a storm at sea. Is there really? Or are things not as they appear to be because of sinister reasons. At the end of the cameo, one dog appears to look up at the birds, to acknowledge them, or look into the camera, as if to say his master is fooling us, so we had better pay attention.

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1.    Evan Hunter’s dialogue for the opening scene of The Birds does indeed recall romantic comedies, particularly of the 1930s & ‘40s. In screwball comedies, women were often quite adept at pretending on the spot (think Midnight or The Lady Eve), as Melanie does here when she thinks Mitch has mistaken her for a pet shop employee. If Don Ameche and Jean Arthur performed this scene, it would delightfully lead us into the story of a spoiled liar and the man who’s onto (and into) her. But Rod Taylor is no Don Ameche and boy is Tippi Hedren no Jean Arthur. Her Melanie is short on charm and Mitch’s attraction must be based in her beauty and the fact that she is a “challenge” (this same coolness later kept Hedren’s Marnie from being sympathetic). The scene is written as a “meet cute” from a rom-com, its dialogue not suggesting the progressively apocalyptic nature of the rest of the film.

2.    From the opening moments of the film, the cacophony of bird sounds seems intense, something supported when we get Melanie’s first POV shot: a San Francisco sky full of birds. The layered electronic bird sounds seem unnatural and worrisome, a premonition of how bad things will get later in the film.

3.    In his cameo, Hitchcock walks quickly out of the pet shop with his dogs. Other than that they’re pets and it’s a pet shop, I don’t associate a great deal of meaning to the larger film. I know he wanted to get his cameos out of the way in his more serious films so as not to disturb the atmosphere he created.

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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? Melanie and Mitch “meet cute” when she plays along with his misconception that she is a sales person at the pet shop. Her own misconceptions about birds tip him off that something is up, but he plays it with a light flirtation. Melanie is obviously a very poised and confident young woman, used to getting her own way. Consider how she doesn’t want to wait a few minutes to get her mynah bird (which she didn’t realize would not come already talking) and informs the sales lady that she can just deliver it.


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 hear the sounds of the sea gulls along with sounds of traffic. The birds become louder and Melanie pauses to look at the sky, which is full of them flying around. The scene isn’t especially ominous, but it IS jarring.


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 don’t read too much into it. Hitch loved his two little dogs, and the pet store scene offered a perfect opportunity to put them in front of the camera. He plays it slightly befuddled as he manages the two leashes.


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1. I have to say how excited to see Tippi/Melanie walked across San Francisco's Union Square (my hometown) gave me such goosebumps. She crossed Geary and Powell Streets where the fabled cable cars clanked its way to the stars was like a scene from a frothy romantic-comedies of that era. Think Doris Day/Rock Hudson. As she approaches the Davidson's Pet Shop, As she climbed the stairs and banter with the lady behind the counter, Mitch came in. Dashing, well-dressed and groomed, a younger version of Cary Grant (not as tall) caught the eye of Melanie. From there the scene takes on a light, comedic nuances as the two very attractive leads do the mating dance. What is noticeable is the fact Mitch and Melanie are definitely interested in each other. Mitch is aware of Melanie's blatant lies about her knowledge of birds. He is an expert and knows how to gage a lie as he is a lawyer. As a romantic ploy, it played against what is to come and a backstory of boy meets girl, girl do boy wrong, and girl wants boy back. 

 

2. The sound of birds in the opening scene screeching is to provide the audience a clue to what to come and subconsciously embed into our psyche to enhance the suspense. The various birds chirping throughout the opening scene without a score is truly experimental. We hear it as the film unfolds to its final dramatic ending. It is so scary and frightening as the whole film is only accompanied by the sound of birds.

 

3. Hitchcock is a master of self-promotion and here he does it early on in the reels. While we come to expect his infamous cameos, we anxiously look for him and often is distracting from the story on the screen. The Birds is an exception. He made his cameo and disappeared from the duration of the film. Therefore we are free from the stress and able to concentrate on the remaining story plots.

 

Hitch certainly loves the number 2. Two dogs, both the leads are seeking two birds are so part of the Hitchcockian world. Double is his game. 

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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 audience knows that Melanie is not an employee of the pet store; and although we do not know at this time who the man is, we get the feeling by the questions he asks that he is being somewhat teasing Melanie. We can feel the chemistry between them already from their body language, especially when Melanie replies to his request. We can assume that their repartee will continue and will lead to a romantic relationship. There are no indications that some thing “bad” is on the horizon.  Of course, we know that the birds are circling the city.


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?


As Melanie is walking toward the pet shop, she stops after being whistled at by a passing stranger.  She stops and smiles at the stranger, but then she hears the birds and looks up to see a large flock of seagulls flying around and squawking. There are quite a few birds, and they are not singing but making a horrific squawking that is more of a cacophony of sound rather than a melody.  Her smile fades into a look that cannot be called a frown but gives the audience the feeling that her reaction is filled with wonder, concern, and even apprehension. However, she shrugs it off and goes into the shop.


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.


Hitchcock is leaving the store as Melanie is entering it.  As we can see he is being led by the two dogs, again the suggestion of doubles. In addition, instead of walking them, they are walking him. To me it suggests that the animals will lead in this film and will take on the “lead” role instead of the actors. 


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1.  Opening scene more appropriate to a romantic comedy...

 

Throughout the scene, Mitch and Melanie play a sort of cat and mouse game flirting with each other.  When she first sees him, it's obvious she's interested in him and goes along with his mistaking her for an employee of the pet shop.  He's on to her rather quickly and tries to trip her up repeatedly.  Both  Mitch and Melanie are well dressed, attractive young people, intelligent and with style.  We also learn a bit about Mitch having a bit of a softer side as he is shopping for his younger sister's birthday - getting her something special for her birthday.  As we learn later in the film, Mitch's close-knit family is in stark contrast to Melanie's family support system.

 

2.  Sound design in the opening sequence.

 

The only sound you really hear are birds.  The background noises of traffic and the cable car are heard but they are somewhat muted.  The bird sounds are louder than you would expect and as Melanie looks up at the sky and sees the birds in the sky, it is a larger of group of birds flying than what you would expect.  She had been smiling until she spotted the birds and her concern is conveyed to the pet shop owner/manager.  Also as she enters the pet shop, the predominant sound is again-birds.  The loud sound of birds outside coupled with the amount of birds in the sky - the sight of which wipes the smile from the face of Melanie, adds a bit of concern to the audience I feel.  The viewer knows the film is about 'The Birds' and you're left wondering what all these noisy birds will be up to in the film!

 

3.  Famous Hitchcock cameo

 

I don't think the cameo has any particular meaning in relation to the scene except for that fact that Hitchcock fans and viewers of his films in general have come to expect it. To me it's 'the cherry on top' to his films and I'm always looking for the cameo.  The real meaning to me is that upon spotting him in such an easy to spot cameo, I can now concentrate on enjoying the movie!

 

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