Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $5.00 shipping
The Birds (BFI Film Classics) Paperback – January 22, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
BFI Film Classics are a treasure, featuring some of the most imaginative recent writing on movies and the film industry. In each little book of the series, an important essayist explores the planning, production, and meaning of a single classic film. We've already been treated to Laura Mulvey on Citizen Kane, David Thomson on The Big Sleep, and Salman Rushdie on The Wizard of Oz. Camille Paglia on The Birds seems like the next, natural step!
Paglia brings her characteristic blend of autobiography, psychoanalysis, kinky vampirism, 1960s radicalism, and contempt for scholarly jargon to her discussion of The Birds, Hitchcock's vision of Mother Nature's vengeance on the humans who have desecrated her. Paglia says she has loved the movie since it first flew into theaters in 1963: "Overwhelmed by the film when I saw it as an impressionable teenager, I view it as a perverse ode to women's sexual glamour, which Hitchcock shows in all its seductive phases, from brittle artifice to melting vulnerability.... In this film, as in so many others, Hitchcock finds woman captivating but dangerous. She allures by nature, but she is the chief artificer in civilization, a magic fabricator of persona whose very smile is an arc of deception."
As enthusiastic about the film as Mrs. Bundy (the movie's amateur ornithologist) is about birds, Paglia is somewhat birdlike herself in her observations. As you read the scene-by-scene analysis of the movie, you can feel her perched on your shoulder, watching it with you, chirping loquaciously--and sometimes ironically: "The birds ... soar up from behind the schoolhouse like a cloud of bats. Academe breeds nightmares." And, "After the first flash of real horror, I generally settle down to laughing and applauding the crows, whom I regard as Coleridgean emissaries vandalizing sentimental Wordsworthian notions of childhood." Of the heroine, the overly curious socialite Melanie Daniels, Paglia remarks, "She is living up to her name--a Daniels who enters the lion's den."
Paglia augments her observations with quotations from Hitchcock, his collaborators, and some of the most important essays written about the film. She also adds an appendix summarizing the film's gory plot under the heading "Melanie Daniels' Social Calendar." Full production credits and a helpful bibliography round out the volume. No fan of Hitchcock, Paglia, or The Birds will want to miss this unique and evocative discussion of a film classic. --Raphael Shargel
"Magnificently cantankerous." -- J.G. Ballard
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
My only beef with the book is Paglia's hysterical hatred of the Cathy Brenner character. One suspects the young Veronica Cartwright's resemblance to some junior high tormentor of Ms. Paglia's is inducing PTSD, causing her to project her painful memories onto this fictional character. Setting aside that irrational bias, and this is a terrific book.
* Marnie is grossly under-appreciated, but not quite up to "great" status.
Paglia has high praise for the coldly seductive Tippi Hedren and gives the reader a scene by scene description of what is going on screen and what symbolism is employed by Hitchcock and his outstanding team of movie magicians,
Paglia draws on her wide knowledge of world literature, horror films and music to add fascinating insights.
Of all the laudable BFI (British Film Institute) guides I hav e so far read this is the best because:
a. Paglia writes in an easy to comprehend style.
b. The rewatching of the film for the reader will be enhanced once this concise book has been mastered.
c. Paglia provides a retelling of the story rich in allusion and symoblism.
After seeing Paglia on a recent Author In-Depth Interview I had to search out her writings. This made for a very good introduction to her, Hitchcock's The Birds while buttressing my joy in the BFI guides.
Dust off the DVD and watch the movie as you peruse the pages of Paglia! Have fun!
Yet this is a superb piece of criticism taking in every apsect of the production of Hitchcock's masterwork. Paglia is very good at the sexual and oedipal politics that pervade Hitchock's work.
It shows that film criticism needs not be dense writing aimed solely at obscuring meaning.
Her discussion on the ending of the Birds certainly opened my eyes to a flaw of the film. As great as the film is, the ending does not work. The original ending would have provided a great climax to a masterwork, yet it was not chosen. Anyone interested in the Birds or hitchcock should read this book.
The book covers a lot of ground and is immensely readable. The best of the series which has shown good marketing sense, but really not a lot of good criticism.