Week 42 – Alfred Hitchcock

Many consider Alfred Hitchcock among the best and most influential filmmakers in history. If you’d ask me, I’d say he was the best. And it all boils down to one movie: The Birds.

The Scariest Movie of all Time

I haven’t seen a lot of Hitchcock’s films. Only the most famous ones: Vertigo, Psycho, Read Window, The Birds, and potentially North by Northwest. (I’m not really sure about the last one). I saw The Birds for the first time around 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve considered it as the scariest movie of all time.

As a kid, I’ve been used to watch horror movies from a quite young age, thanks to a father who has always been obsessed with horror. Contrarily to my brother, I never caught that same horror movie obsession. Maybe this is because I’ve been exposed from a young age to the horror genre and been explained I shouldn’t be afraid because it’s not real. Thus, I find most well-known horror movies to be frankly quite boring, very cliché, predictable and mostly… NOT scary. There are a few exceptions, but they are rare.

Why I think that Hitchcock and The Birds are the Best

The Birds is one of those exceptions. Watching the movie itself is not really scary. In many ways, the movie hasn’t aged well. One could easily argue that it’s a relatively slow and boring movie, with outdated visual effects, uninteresting characters and a scenario filled with plot holes. But there’s one thing that “The Birds” does better than any other movie I’ve ever seen: it builds tension to a point where it leaves you with a fear of birds.

I only saw the movie twice. The first time 10 years ago. The second time was Friday. I’ve been so amazed by that movie the first time that I’ve always wanted to watch it again. But I’ve never managed it, until last weekend, because of the memory of the fear it left on me. Not the fear while watching it, but after. The irrational fear that flocks of birds will come attack me in my bedroom while I sleep.

What this movie achieves is creating fear out of the most ordinary and amazing animals. It’s creating fear without relying on some ugly or scary creatures. Without relying on cheap jumpscares. It’s how Hitchcock manages to express the character’s fears on the screen in a more realistic way than any other movie I’ve ever seen.

My SiPgoes53 photo

I’ve been anxious about this week since the beginning of the year. Not (only) because it meant I would have to force myself watching The Birds again, but because I knew I could never manage to express the same fear through my own pictures.

While I tried to recreate a scene inspired by the movie using my team of Elves, I can’t say I’m satisfied with it. None of the different compositions I took satisfy me. All have tiny details that annoy me. (I thought about not posting this whole blog post so I could give it another try, but it feels like I will never be happy with my result anyway… So I tried to convince myself that I’m too harsh with myself and should still post it.)

Going back to SiPgoes52

Lately, I’ve also been going back to SiPgoes52. Last year I said that coming up with a photo for each of our human values or emotions wasn’t the end of me. I wanted to make something out of my project. A year late, it feels like not much progress has been made. But in the past weeks, I’ve forced myself to revisit some of my old SiPgoes52 photos.

This week, I can’t help myself to make a connection between SiPgoes52 and SiPgoes53. One of my favorite photos from last year is the one I posted for “anger”. It’s one for which I had a lot of hesitation. While I decided to post it for anger, to me this photo is more about fear than anger. And a year later, I feel like it could be a better fit for Hitchcock than the photo I took this week, even though it doesn’t include any Elf.

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Sir Legoade
Sir Legoade
4 years ago

Wonderful read. Agree in that the movie has not aged well and that it is the suspense that builds that causes the psychological horror. Having once been attacked by a single crow in my youth, the thought of being attacked by several still distresses me to this day.

And yes, you are being harsh on yourself with regards to your picture. It is a well thought out scene depicting the sense of being alone and surrounded by something wanting to create harm. A true horror a person can face in life.

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