(1963)4Brendon HanleyThe Birds features a classic Alfred Hitchcock setup: average people placed in circumstances turned upside down. And of course, there are the requisite dark insinuations and strange psychological underpinnings. Though we're never sure why the birds are rising up, their behavior seems to be a response to humankind's complacency and arrogance. It's a frightening yet sportive vision of Judgment Day. As in Psycho, Hitchcock's previous film, the normalcy of the setting is allowed to set in before the audience is thrown into the perverse drama. When the bird violence comes, Hitchcock pulls out all the stops to make it as realistic as one could imagine. There are 371 trick shots in the film. Some have dated, but for the most part the effects are still effective. The last shots are especially memorable. And the movie features a unique soundtrack from frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann: no music, only bird sounds organized as if they were music, for maximum creepy impact. The Birds stands as the end of an unprecedented period when Hitchcock could no wrong; he made only five more features, with decidedly mixed artistic and financial results.