The Birds

March 28,1963

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: Ed McBan

Major Characters:

Tippi Hedron- Melanie Daniels

Rod Taylor- Mitch Breener

Suzanne Pleshette- Anne Hayworth


Mise en Scene in the broadest sense is simply everything that you see on the screen to do with visual matter, the set, positioning, symmetry, and lighting.

In this film, the female lead, Melanie Daniels is standing outside and you can see the playground behind her gradually filling up with birds.  This could be perhaps my favorite scene in movie history.  This scene is the best example of montage or Mise En Scene I could think of.  Hitchcock was extremely impressive in his dramatic techniques.  It helped to build the tension which also made this film horror and suspense.

The film in the beginning has a different feel all together as far as lighting is concerned.  Hitchcock used very bright lights and warm hues.  This movie was also considered pretty modern for its era, as a result of the new technology that was used.  The use of Technicolor added to the genre of horror.  During the beginning of the film, the lighting began as light and cheerful.  For example, Melanie and Mitch were in the bird shop, the brightness of the lighting during this scene was reflected in the characters behavior also.  During the end of the film the lighting and color create a dark and almost eerie setting.  Most of the film feature greens and blues.  Through the high key lighting, contrasted with low key lighting it creates a great mysteries impression on the audience.

The bird shop.

The bird shop.

Mr. Hitchcock was very famous for using Mise en scene to alter the appearance of things.  Think of the room where the farmer is found to be dead, it is bright but as the camera begins the revealing of the body, the lighting starts to become darker.  The shadows cover the body, only  showing us his face, with his pitch black eyes from where the birds ate them out.

The dead farmer, with no eyes.

The dead farmer, with no eyes.

This is very dramatic and symbolizes that the birds have attacked and they will attack again.  If he would have done that scene any other way, we would have not gotten the same dramatic effect, therefore losing the symbolism also.

Alfred Hitchcock uses all of these visual techniques, plus the help of camera angles to create a suspenseful horror movie.  The MacGuffin changes through out the film from cheerful love story to a much darker, sinister suspense.  By Hitchcock using MacGuffin in most of his films, he makes the audience have a much different opinion and attitude toward each appending scene.  The power of the movie is through the camera angles and lighting and the absence of a music soundtrack, concluding that the lighting and camera use made an incredibly triumphant suspense for the horror genre audience.


Clip, M. (2011, May 27). Playground-the birds(5/11). Retrieved from YouTube:

CLIP, M. (2012, January Friday, 6th). Movie Review: The BIrds (1963). Retrieved from

Fanpop. (2010). Alfred Hitchcocks-The Birds. Retrieved from Fanpop:



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