Friday, July 17, 2009

Take a Chance Challenge: The Birds

the birds poster

I watched the movie and read the short story The Birds (by Daphne du Maurier) for Amy's Summer of Hitchcock; but I decided it also could satisfy the requirements for the tenth part of Jenner's Take a Chance Challenge at Find Your Next Book Here:

take a chance challenge

Movie/Book Comparison
Find a book that you haven't read that has a movie based on it that you haven't seen. Read the book and watch the movie within a few days of each other. Write about your reactions to both the book and the movie and compare the two.

I read the story by Daphne du Maurier first, online.  It was incredibly creepy and atmospheric.  It takes place in post-WWII England, in a small farming villiage.  The main character, Nat, is retired but has two young kids and works on a farm part-time. 

The short story begins with Nat's tiny cottage being attacked by birds in the middle of the night.  The next morning, he goes to the farm to see if anyone else was attacked, but they hear his story with disbelief and incredulity.  However, it soon turns out Nat wasn't the only one who was attacked.  As he hears on the radio, birds gathered and attacked all over the country, perhaps even all over the world. 

As Nat hunkers down with his family in their cottage and services start to disappear, a claustrophobic feeling invades the story.  It's not so much a horror story as it is a struggle for survival against a completely unexpected and unstoppable enemy.  Birds, which no really notices that much in their daily lives, have suddenly become kamikaze terrorists attacking anything human with no concern for their own well-being or safety.  There's also a sense that they're doing this under the control of some higher power, following the tides and grouping together to attack specific places--what that higher power might be is never said.

After reading the story, I had high expectations for the movie, but Hitchcock basically changed everything.  He kept a lot of the arresting visuals in the short story, such as the black cloud of birds rising on the horizon; but instead of post-war England, we find ourselves in 1960's San Francisco, in a... bird store?  Huh.  Basically, Tippi Hedren (aka Melanie) is some sort of hieress, and she spends the first half hour of the movie chasing down this gross lethario named Mitch to a tiny seaside town so she can give him some lovebirds he ordered for his sister's birthday.  Um, one, why; and two, if he ordered the birds for his sister, why didn't he pick them up himself or make sure he was at his apartment when they were delivered?  I mean, that is just incompetent, not to mention a painfully weak opening for a movie.  So the characters have pointless conversations for about an hour and a half (or that's how long it felt), and then finally birds attack, and I'm like, "Yay!  Finally!"

Basically, the movie was full of lulz.  It was way too long, the "plot" was ridiculous, Hedren kept lolling her head about when there were no birds around at all, and the script was just lame.  Even though I had fun with the fake birds, there were hardly any bird attacks in the movie at all until the very end.  Overall, I was pretty disappointed.

summer of hitchcock

Next week on Summer of Hitchcock, we're watching Spellbound.  So start polishing up your Dr. Freud accents, everyone!

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