Actually, I didn't see a Hitchcock film until college. I first saw The Birds in 1984. It played in the background as we played Trivial Pursuit and ate the last of the Halloween candy. I remember that the birds didn't seem so much scary as demented. I watched the movie until the end waiting for the loose ends to be tied up, waiting for the great reveal.
There was none. One friend suggested that's what made the film scary. The birds just started attacking people, and no one could explain why.
Of course, the birds looked so fake. Maybe that's why I didn't find it scary.
Now, of course, we have a daily news diet of nature gone berserk. These days it's not so much animals as the weather patterns we thought we could count on.
What would a Hitchcock film about global warming look like? A climate science denier trapped in rising flood waters?
I think about those birds as a metaphor for other aspects of modern life. How often are we attacked by our anxieties? We think we've allayed our fears, only to find them rising up in black masses to attack us.
Psycho gave many a woman a fear of being attacked in a strange motel. My mom told me that on her college campus, they went to the showers in teams. No it wasn't like that--they took separate showers. But no one was alone in the community bathrooms.
Sadly, we still have to deal with that fear, fear of being physically attacked, fear of being attacked in other ways. We live in a world of increasingly easy access--who has the keys to our information?
In grad school, my friend was taking a film class, so we watched a lot of Hitchcock movies with her. We spun all sorts of papers we might write, the books we might create. So far, she's written a paper or two, presented at a conference, while I have not.
We watched Rear Window, which seemed more creepy than frightening. We watched Vertigo and Strangers on a Train. We watched several more, whose names do not stick with me.
It's interesting to watch a bunch of films by the same director all together, especially when doing it for a class. It's interesting to watch the director develop. It's interesting to see similar themes and characters. Yes, I'm an English major at heart, always and forever.
It would be interesting to watch these films with a younger generation. Are they still frightening in any way?
Younger people may not understand the full impact of Hitchcock, but when you start to look around, it's impossible to avoid coming to this conclusion: we live in a Hitchcock haunted world. Hitchcock's imprint finds its way into so many aspects of 21st century life.
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