Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bay afraid, Bay very afraid...

As a dear reader pointed out to me today, I am about a day overdue on my horrified reaction to this horrendous news announced yesterday in The Hollywood Reporter .

Universal has decided to remake The Birds, with Michael Bay producing with his company.

Now here’s the delayed reaction.


Not The Birds! Not another Hitchcock remake! For the love of Pete! Hasn’t anyone learned yet you just can’t remake Hitchcock? That his films will forever be inextricably linked and associated with his indelible brilliant directorial style and individual artistic watermark? Hitchcock’s films are original works of art. Would anyone think of to reinterpret a Kandinski or a Monet? No, never.

Alright Bay, it’s clear you have a thing for producing remakes. So your Chainsaw remake was pretty good, and your Amityville remake was ok, but neither of them were as good as their respective originals, and if you think that your version of The Birds will even touch the nuanced character portraits and psychological depths of The Birds, then you really are out of your gourd.

I cringe and carry on because I really do feel certain about the fate that will befall The Birds remake. It will become a gory slasher film instead of a subtle thriller. It will trade in eerie atmosphere for shock value, and the slow burn, for the shaky handheld and quick edits.

Recently, it has also been announced that Warner Brothers is remaking another of Hitchcock’s films, “Strangers on a Train” – but for some reason that one didn’t upset me as much as The Birds remake did. I guess it’s because I am so familiar with The Birds; I have seen the film many times and love so many moments and different things about it. I know there are more than a few critics who don’t believe that it is one of Hitchcock’s better works, despite the fact that it is so well known. But I think the film is a prime example of the way that he as a film maker was so effective at creating suspense. In The Birds, the film starts out in a banal, calm, and ordinary sort of way. Then slowly as though orchestrating a symphony, Hitchcock adds in moment after moment, slowly revealing the horror of what is to come so that by the end of the film there is so much panic and tension that the audience is nearly driven insane, just as the characters of the film are. Hitchcock was incredibly adroit at making the audience feel just what the people on screen were feeling. No matter the type of character, he always knew how to link into their essential humanity, so that it was as if we were living out the scenes in the films ourselves.

The remake I’m sure will have fake looking CGI birds, and will add some crazy plot twist about a mad scientist whose experiments went horribly awry, or a government military effort that got out of control, in order to “explain the birds behavior”. But that’s the thing. To me one of the most terrifying elements of The Birds is that there is simply no real reason or explanation given by science or the occult, for their behavior. The birds in Birds just are. It is a film about what people do when the inexplicable begins to occur.

No director has been assigned yet, nor a screenwriter, though it will be based on the same short story by Daphne Du Maurier as the original.

I’m still in the denial phase of my grieving process, eventually I’ll get to acceptance, and maybe even optimism, but for now all I can do is shake my head and sigh.


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