The Birds: Creation of Suspense

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The short story “The Birds” by Daphne du Maurier and the film The Birds directed by Alfred Hitchcock created an event in which birds attacked people for unknown reasons. Although the characters and setting are vastly different, both creators conveyed a similar mood of fear and suspense. Both the author and director used effective methods of creating suspense, even though the techniques themselves varied. In the short story, Daphne du Maurier uses weather imagery to create suspense. For example, at one point in the text Nat says, “This is a black winter, not a white one.” This creates a dark mood, because black, which represents death, is being contrasted to white, which symbolizes purity. Also, this statement is very blunt; the short, to-the-point sentence very obviously states the something will go wrong. This technique is shown again through out the story when the wind is constantly described as “[cutting]” and “biting.” The sharp and bitter notations of these adjectives make the reader uncomfortable. When the wind is described with such words as “whipping,” the audience assumes that brutal events will accompany the unfortunate weather. In the film, Alfred Hitchcock uses camera angles to invoke suspense. An example of this is when Lydia walks down the hallway at Dan Fawcett’s house. In this scene, the camera trails behind Lydia as she sneaks upstairs and stops, leaving her to continue alone. The angle used creates suspense by portraying Lydia’s isolation as she is left to progress by herself. The suspenseful camera angles are used again when Melanie is attacked by the gulls in a phone booth. This shot has multiple angles that shift often, some of which are very awkward. One angle is shot from above Melanie’s head, while another is taken from her perspective. The random angles create a sense of frantic and urgency, making the audience uneasy and disoriented.
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