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Film Studies 101
Feature
The Birds At 50: 9 Moments Of Visual Genius
Empire pays tribute to Hitch's ornithological horror

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Discovery At The Fawcett Farm

Mitch’s mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy) pops over to Dan Fawcett's farm to have a word with him about his rubbish bird feed. There's no answer, so she lets herself in. Guessing something's up when she spots broken crockery in the kitchen, Lydia creeps slowly towards Dan's bedroom in silence, where she finds all manner of bird-based devastation. Most unsettlingly, though, she discovers Dan's body, horrifically lacking in eyeballs to the tune of two. Hitchcock takes us uncomfortably close to the sightless corpse in three quick shots, each tighter than the last. If anything, it's the quiet that's most unnerving. This is the kind of scene that would have employed shrieking violins in Psycho, but here Hitch plays it all out in terrifying silence.

Trivia titbit: Dan's hollow eye sockets are actually a combination of makeup effects and miniature matte paintings, with the blackness and surrounding blood painted in by an artist.

 

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1 Fawcett Farm Location
The Fawcett Farm is located maybe a mile or so northwest of the hamlet of Valley Ford on California State Highway1, just west of the intersection of Highway 1 with the Valley Ford-Freestone Road. It is easy to spot on Google Earth. My in-laws have a sheep and cattle ranch to the south of Valley Ford. Roads near Valley Ford were used in the filming of Bandits (2001). South of Valley Ford is Tomales, where the Presbyterian Church was the location for the church and cemetery scenes in Village of the Damned (1995). More

Posted by futhark on Saturday July 6, 2013, 05:06

2
Thank you very much for a really interesting feature. I reckon it must have been 20 years ago when I first saw the film (the first time I'd seen a Hitchcock), lured by the promise of many visual effects shot. I'd never really appreciated what wonderful things could be done with suspense until I'd seen the climbing frame scene. That ending is frustrating to watch aged 12 if you've only ever seen films with tied-up endings. Six years later, coming back from the Emmerich version of Godzilla, we just caught the tail-end of The Birds on TV, and again the sound effects when the three actors were just looking up at the ceiling was so much more effective than anything in that Emmerich film More

Posted by Schnorbitz on Friday March 29, 2013, 17:22


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