6.04.2008

The Birds


Went to "Movies in the Park" at Centennial Park tonight with Nate, Mark and Hilary. I do love that movie. Such a classic. The filming is fantastic for the time and the cast is perfect. I love the slight accent and the way in which people interacted back then. So classy. Even when the characters are pissed at each other, the retorts are curt yet sophisticated. I love it.

At the end of the movie my friends and the folks around me were baffled, "I don't get it, did it have to do with the love birds?" In my head it all makes perfect sense. It's totally gender-based. I can't help picking apart the movie. Granted, while I took Gothic and Horror Lit in college 4 years ago, and slept through a good portion of the class, I still can't watch horror films without trying to pinpoint the "other."

The "Bird War" begins when Melanie visits Bodega Bay. She goes completely against the grain of what the typical female role is expected to be at the time. She is single, successful and jumps naked into fountains in Rome. Even the locals take notice. At the diner, post-gas-station explosion, the paranoid, hysterical mother points to Melanie and states that it all started when she came to town. Goes so far as to point at Melanie and exclaim: "Why are they [the birds] doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from! I think you're evil. EVIL! "

Other female characters in the film are motherly. You have Annie Hayworth, Mitch's old flame who moved to Bodega Bay for her love for Mitch and never left, just so she could be close to him. She becomes the local school-marme which is essentially a motherly role. Lydia, Mitch's mother, is by default the standard mother both literally and figuratively. She makes it a point to bring up Melanie's reckless behavior and tells about how she still wakes up in the morning ready to prepare breakfast for her deceased husband. Her life revolves around her past husband and holding on to Mitch. As you can see, Mitch's role is the patriarch, the alpha male which every female looks to for support, Annie, Lydia, even his little sister, Cathy. All of the females except Melanie. Initially anyway.

While she does follow him to Bodega Bay, at the onset Melanie isn't swooning or drooling over Mitch. In fact, she is the one that makes the effort to "court" him in a sense. Bringing him lovebirds for his little sister, following him out to the country. She is the one doing the "hunting." Very much a role reversal. She is somewhat adamant on leaving yet Mitch persuades her to stay. As the movie progresses she comes to rely heavily on Mitch and becomes more motherly toward Bethany, which is quite the contrast of her character at the beginning. In the end, you see the issue of the Birds is "solved" as they drive away and Melanie is being held by Lydia, she is giving in and letting Lydia "mother" her and thus finally regards her as Mitch's better-half, or daughter-in-law. Melanie gives in to the ways of the "proper" woman, the daughter, the "wife" and "mother" figure to Cathy. And at this point the case is closed, story over.

Yes, the storyline of The Birds is overly creepy and chilling.. especially in the scene with the man with the gouged-out eyes. And on the playground as flocks upon flocks of birds gather on the jungle-gym. That just in itself is unnatural and unsettling, but I can't resist picking apart the underlying Gothic theme. I could be totally off and geeking out beyond all reason, but it makes sense to me. And was fun to think about.

Dang I miss Professor Herr's Honors Gothic and Horror Lit class.

1 comment:

rachel vanoven photography said...

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Thanks Tay :)

Rach