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Psycho/Birds comparison shows method to Hitchcock’s shower/bird attack madness

Janet Leigh is a nascent embezzler taking a shower at a past-its-prime roadside motel in Arizona. Tippi Hedren is a playgirl and socialite taking refuge at a house in Bodega Bay, CA. Both are assailed in nasty yet seemingly different ways—Leigh by a cross-dressing Tony Perkins, Hedren by a flock of inexplicably-pissed-off birds. Yet both of these scenes directed by the Master Of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, look remarkably similar in terms of timing and shot composition when shown side-by-side. That’s the insight of Pablo Fernandez Eyre, the filmmaker and editor who recently created a macabre urban symphony from the sound effects of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. In a new video simply entitled “Psycho Vs The Birds,” Fernandez Eyre contrasts the infamous shower murder from 1960’s Psycho with one of the bird attacks from 1963’s The Birds. Both films were originally edited by Hitchcock’s long-time cutter, George Tomasini, who also worked on Vertigo, Rear Window, and North By Northwest, among others.

Putting blonds in peril was, of course, a career-long obsession for Alfred Hitchcock. Hedren and Leigh were merely two late-arriving additions to this already-bustling menagerie. Still, the parallels between the sequences in Psycho and The Birds are difficult to ignore. Notice, for instance, how the unnaturally bright light fixture in the Bates Motel bathroom corresponds to the unnaturally bright flashlight wielded by Hedren in The Birds. Notice, too, the nightmarish flurry of closeups: legs, hands, faces. During their respective attacks, both Hedren and Leigh are pinned up against walls, unable to escape from their shadowy assailants. Fernandez Eyre’s video ends with both bloodied, blonde heroines slumping to their respective floors, defeated. In a way, watching “Psycho Vs. The Birds” is like seeing how a magic trick is accomplished.


[via Laughing Squid]

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