Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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The Things We Don't Know About Birds

It's amazing how one sip of coffee can instantly begin to counteract two days of caffeine withdrawal. The lingering nausea in my stomach says, "No," but my brain drowns it out with a resounding, "Yes."

I'm going to go to school to-night if I don't throw up within the next couple hours. I haven't vomited since yesterday morning, but this lingering nausea has me a little worried. And the fact that I was able to sleep despite only half a potato and a single cracker for dinner. I had an entire bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, though. I went to the bank and the grocery store and I seem to be making everyone believe I'm okay, so maybe that'll create some kind of reality feedback loop.

I wanted just a nice, sweet, colour Alfred Hitchcock movie yesterday, so I watched The Birds. It amazes me how most of the screenshots I see from the movie in articles about it tend not to be some of the really gorgeous images that fill most of the film. I particularly like this shot of Melanie in her boat crossing from the left side of the screen to the right;

I can feel exactly what the weather feels like. I'm not quite sure if it's a matte painting or just a sky and landscape that happen to look like a painting, but it's beautiful in any case. And Hitchcock's movies let you appreciate their beautiful images rather than kind of obnoxiously rubbing your nose in them like a lot of modern films.

I think a lot of modern viewers probably find the first half of The Birds terribly understated, perhaps even dull. But I love the quiet, weird power play between Melanie and Mitch. This is what M. Night Shyamalan really didn't understand when he was making his Hitchcock inspired The Happening. Both films feature inexplicable acts of nature threatening their lives, but The Happening never comes together because the conflict between its protagonists is too superficial, too sitcom--Zooey Deschanel maybe cheating on Mark Wahlberg, Wahlberg . . . I don't know, I think his problem was his weirdly breathy delivery.

But the catastrophe in The Birds feeds off the character stories that dominate the first half of the film, a conflict between self-control and expression of natural needs and desires. The superstitious woman in the diner accuses Melanie of being evil, of bringing the birds--Melanie, who may have danced naked in a fountain in Rome, a sudden and shocking intruder into Mitch's family life even as he himself let the genie out of the bottle by flirting with her at the pet shop, where he pretended he thought she worked at the store. He said he was doing it because he wanted her to feel what it was like to be pranked after he'd witnessed one of her pranks on an earlier occasion. Of course this is exciting veneer for a flirtation, whether he realises it or not. She maintains a transparent fiction about loathing him, though she's clearly not deluded about it herself.

Everything becomes more serious when this game is brought to Mitch's mother's doorstep. Melanie meets Anne, Mitch's former lover whom his mother couldn't abide competing with. Not, as Anne said, because she was possessive of Mitch, but because Lydia, Mitch's mother, couldn't stand the idea of someone else providing the love for Mitch she couldn't.

It's the traumatic circumstances of the attacking birds that thaw Lydia's exterior--I would say the latter half of the film is really more concerned with her arc as the circumstances force her to resort to the basic humanity she perhaps felt she lacked.
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