, Research Paper
There are many aspects of a movie that relate the feeling and emotion to the viewer. Music, or lack there of, is one of the more prominent. In the film The Birds, different bird sounds and silence are used to illustrate the action, suspense, and anxiety of the scenes. This rare technique allows the viewer to be drawn into the intensity of the birds and their attacks. The Birds, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, uses a sequence of silence and bird clamor to create an extravagant feeling of uncertainty and suspense.
In The Birds, the order in which the degree of discord and silence are arranged evokes specific emotions that relate to the scene. During periods of tranquil scenes the viewer hears soft peaceful chirping of birds, mimicking soft background music. In sequence, next there would be a duration of silence, building up the tension and anticipation of an attack. At the time of an attack, the battering of wings and loud squawks sound. On account of the lack of music, and the only audible sounds, besides the characters’ dialogue, are of the birds, the viewer is not distracted and becomes completely immersed in the birds and their persistent occurrence.
A major scene in which the absence of a musical score is extremely affective, is when Melanie is waiting outside the school for Cathy. As Melanie sits on the bench outside, the children sing from inside the school and soft, infrequent bird chirping can be heard. At this time, the birds are gathering in a large flock behind Melanie, and once the singing stops there is a startling silence. This lack of sound leaves the viewer confused as to what will happen and creates an extreme feeling of anticipation. After the period of silence there is an attack on the students, and we hear the birds savage squawking and their wings thrashing against the children. If there had been music, a fluency from the students singing to the attack would have been created and the feeling of suspense would have been destroyed.
In the final scenes of The Birds, another significant sequence of sounds and silence portray the anticipation and tension of the film. As Mitch and his family, including Melanie, enter the car to leave Bodaga Bay, the birds that surround them are lightly chirping. Once again, mimicking background music and signifying a calm moment. While they drive into the distance, the birds go silent, and the viewer is left in anticipation as to what will happen to the family. The addition of music to this final scene would ruin the suspense and would either indicate the termination of Mitch and his family, or their successful escape from the birds. Again, the lack of music and sound creates a more suspenseful and tense scene then if it had been scored.
Seldomly do we see a film as such, that does not have a musical score. The Birds is a triumphant display of how a musical soundtrack can be replaced by alternative sound and silence and arouse such strong feelings of suspense and anticipation. The sequence in which the bird clamor and silence is grouped accents the tension and anxiety of the movie.