This pack contains a photocopiable Student's Guide and a Teacher's Commentary

In the Student's Guide the film is segmented into units of 10-15 minutes duration. This facilitates work in the normal class period. There is a series of questions for each sequence that guides the viewing of the students and encourage them to keep a personal Response Journal.

The Teacher's Commentary is a well researched separate booklet which covers issues raised in the guide.

Each pack is priced @ € 35.00, postage free. Titles are shipped on receipt of payment. Delivery is by Standard Post: next-day delivery in Ireland, and 2-10 days for international orders.

 

 

Extract from Teacher's Commentary: 

SEQUENCE 1
Mitch and Melanie Meet
Let the film roll until Melanie says "That would be just fine"

We first hear the cries of the birds and then they appear to peck and claw at the film’s titles.

The bird calls carry over into the opening scene - a typical city scene with a trolley, traffic, lights, high-rise buildings, hoardings and pedestrians. Melanie Daniels crosses the street in a chic, black two piece and elaborate coiffure. Everything about her says ‘elegance’. She passes a shelter with the Golden Gate, and the words ‘San Francisco’ depicted on it. She looks up at the sky crowded with screaming gulls. The skyline is filled with buildings and hoardings that read ‘Jet B.O.A.C.’, and ‘Air France Paris’. This is the start of a major motif that will run through the film: role reversal. Humans want to fly, children will sing endlessly like chirping birds, birds will be freed from cages and humans will be locked up. Immediately after this, a boy whistles at Melanie and she stops and smiles, pleased with the attention. One might ask what species uses a whistle to communicate!

Hitchcock walks out of a store with his two Sealyham terriers.

Inside the pet shop, the air is filled with birdsong and gilded cages hold countless birds. Unlike those outside, these birds have lost their freedom. They exist at the whim of humans. Mrs McGruder, the shop assistant, offers the suggestion that a storm at sea must have driven all the gulls inland. This is one of many theories offered in the course of the film that try to explain the behaviour of birds. Some hold water, others are rejected out of hand.

Melanie has a mynah bird on order. She wants to train it to talk, so she can teach it ‘new four-letter words’ that she is researching in Berkeley College one day a week. This indicates her flippant personality. She is not a bad person, but she has to learn that life is not one long practical joke. This is the journey that she embarks on when she decides to go to Bodega Bay.

As Mitch enters the store, he is cocksure of himself and bounds confidently up the stairs. He has much in common with Melanie. They are both of an age. Both dress well. And when they interact, both are articulate and quick-witted.

Melanie is writing her address for Mrs McGruder and Mitch mistakes her, at first, for a shop assistant. He wants love birds for his eleven year old sister. He wants a pair that will interact without being too demonstrative. Like Melanie, he sees birds as something that exists for the gratification of the human race.

Mitch adopts a sceptical view of what Melanie has to say and trips her up as she shows him around the shop. Both of them enjoy a practical joke. He shows his haughty nature by forcing Melanie to take a canary out of its cage even though it’s obvious she has no inkling of tending birds.

(There is a typical Hitchcockian joke when Melanie tells Mitch that birds develop a certain ‘hang-dog expression’ when they’re moulting: she moves past a portrait of the two terriers, that accompanied Hitchcock earlier, which is hanging on the wall!) There is a certain smugness in Mitch’s behaviour that is not very attractive. He cares little for the birds or Melanie. As he puts the canary back, he says "Back in your gilded cage, Melanie Daniels", and it becomes obvious to her that he has been leading her on. We realise that he feels she should be taken down a peg or two because of one of her practical jokes. His opinion is "The judge should have put you behind bars." This notion of crime and punishment becomes central to the plot of the film. Court room interrogation, cross-examination and the delivery of the verdict will be a recurring motif in the film’s metaphoric order.

Melanie is furious of Mitch’s treatment of her. His parting jab is "See you in court!" If we read the restaurant scene later as a metaphorical court scene, then these words become prophetic, and ironic. He strongly believes that judgement should be visited upon Melanie. When this happens through the agency of the birds, he is all concern for her. He too must learn to treat people and nature with due seriousness.

Not to be outdone Melanie, quick-witted as she is, gets Mitch’s number and puts pressure on an employee of her father’s to get his name from the registry of motor vehicles. She is a woman who is used to getting her own way.

Extract from Student's Guide: 

SEQUENCE 1
Mitch and Melanie Meet
Let the film roll until Melanie says "That would be just fine"

This film is called 'The Birds'. How are birds introduced to us? What do you make of the credit sequence?

What sounds do you hear as the first scene fades in? Give an objective description of the lady crossing the street. What indication do we get that the film is set in San Francisco? Would you describe this as a typical city scene?

Why does the lady, Melanie Daniels, stop outside the petshop? Why does she look upwards?

What sounds do you hear as Melanie climbs the stairs? What is the difference between the scene inside and the scene outside the store? What is the shop assistant's theory about the number of gulls outside?

Freeze the frame after Melanie looks up and describe the scene in as much detail as you can.

Why has Melanie come into the store? Why does she want a mynah bird?

Describe Mitch Brenner as he enters the store. What kind of a man would you say he is? What is Melanie doing when he calls her? What impression of her does Mitch get? What is Mitch doing in the store?

What have Mitch and Melanie got in common at this point in the story?

How would you describe the look on Mitch's face as Melanie says "Now then ... let me see?" Does Melanie know or care much about birds?

What does Mitch mean by "Doesn't this make you feel awful?" Does Melanie realise that he knows she's not well informed? What do you think of his treatment of Melanie? Why does he reach out his hand for the canary? What is his attitude to Melanie? ... to the birds? How does Melanie react to his gesture? Why does she react in this way?