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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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The Final Shot

The Birds

A thing of apocalyptic beauty, The Birds' last shot is also a technical marvel for its time. Hitchcock said it was the most complex shot of the film and, indeed, his entire career: unsurprising when you consider that it called for 32 separate exposures. Although it looks like thousands of birds watching Melanie and the Brenners abandoning home and heading for the faint light of a more hopeful place, in fact it's the same small group of birds shot several times. Set against a doomy, gloomy matte painting by visual effects artist Albert Whitlock (who painted many of the film's most memorable landscapes), the ambiguous ending is one of cinema's greatest.

Trivia titbit: Other endings were mooted: Evan Hunter wrote one which had the car attacked by birds once more, while Hitchcock contemplated another which included a final shot of the Golden Gate Bridge covered in feathered bastards. We presume he abandoned that one because he didn't want to have to scrub millions of gallons of bird shit off the bridge.

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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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