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

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The Drive To (And From) The Fawcett Farm

The Birds At 50: 9 Moments Of Visual Genius

This one's not easy to spot, but it's a very deliberate touch in which Hitchcock uses more than just quick cuts and screaming actresses to convey emotion. Watch carefully as Lydia's truck drives up to Dan Fawcett's farm: oblivious to the horror which awaits her, she pootles up the drive with all the speed of, well, an old lady off to natter about bird feed. Skip forward two and a half minutes, during which time both Lydia and the audience have had a trouser-troubling experience with Dan's empty eye sockets, and she races away from the farm in a near-identical shot to her approach - except that this time her truck kicks up huge clouds of dust, implying manic speed and panicked urgency. It's illogical in retrospect (why wasn't there any dust when she arrived?), but Hitchcock didn't deal in logic; he dealt in cinema.

Trivia titbit: To achieve the desired effect, Hitchcock shot the dusty exit shot first, then had the road dampened before shooting the arrival.

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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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