NCH Presents The Birds with Live Score
Matthew Nolan, electric guitar / synths / electronics / percussion
Seán Mac Erlaine, reeds / piano / electronics / percussion
Sharon Phelan, vocals / field recordings
Eivind Aarset, electric guitar
Hitchcock’s classic thriller featuring a new live score written and performed live by Matthew Nolan in collaboration with Seán Mac Erlaine, Sharon Phelan and Eivind Aarset.
Wealthy reformed party girl Melanie Daniels enjoys a brief flirtation with lawyer Mitch Brenner in a San Francisco pet shop and decides to follow him to his Bodega Bay home. Bearing a gift of two lovebirds, Melanie quickly strikes up a romance with Mitch while contending with his possessive mother and boarding at his ex-girlfriend's house. One day, during a birthday party for Mitch's younger sister, a flock of birds attacks the children in what seems to be a random incident. In fact, it signals the beginning of a massive and organised avian assault on the residents of the town - a mysterious spate of violence that no one can explain... and from which no one might come out alive.
The Birds is generally regarded as the last great Hitchcock movie (it was shot in 1963, when the director's reputation was at its peak). Might it also stand as the essential Hitchcock movie, the purest and most confident, a brilliant distillation of the themes that had fuelled him ever since he sent the lodger creeping to his upstairs room? Hitchcock juggles shrill B-movie histrionics with chill arthouse gloss. The formal precision of his camerawork, the deft economy of Evan Hunter's dialogue and a sense of location so sharp and assured that it feels that you’ve been there.
For all that, the most impressive thing about The Birds is not what it puts in but what it leaves out. At the age of 63, Hitchcock was secure enough to dispense with the grinding gears of narrative logic. The beautiful, bruised Notorious had its plot MacGuffin in the form of its wine bottles filled with iron ore. Electrifying, insurrectionist Psycho still felt the need to wheel on a psychiatrist to explain Norman Bates to the audience. But The Birds floats free. There is no motor driving it and nothing to hold it aloft apart from that up-draft of sensual atmosphere and existential dread.
The Birds I dir. Alfred Hitchcock I USA I Colour I 1963 I 119mins
Presented by NCH