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Birds Minus Birds
April 12, 2008 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Give Us Today Our Daily Terror is an exact copy of Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds from which all the birds have been removed. Video: 1-2-3 Stills
posted by vronsky (47 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:06 PM on April 12, 2008


Very cool. I was just enjoying Garfield Minus Garfield, and it's interesting how awareness of removed content seems to guarantee an uncanny bereftness, across media! My favorite film in that vein has to be Naomi Uman's Removed, where the female bodies in a series of 70's porn clips are eradicated by hand from the stock by scratching or bleach. The imperfect animation effect creates wavering borders of the ghost-bodies that have a preternatural sensuality which conflicts evocatively with the violence of their absence, as a very perplexing gendered sexuality study. This piece has fewer traces of the removal that's been done, but that's apt: for terror, birds have nothing on total obliteration.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:08 PM on April 12, 2008 [8 favorites]


INVISIBLE BIRDS
posted by Poolio at 5:10 PM on April 12, 2008


Pretty ingenious. Wonder what the old master would have to say about this.
posted by blucevalo at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2008


See also.
posted by fire&wings at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2008


fire&wings, I remember that movie scared the shit out of me when I was kid. One of Hitchcock's forgotten jewels. It's weird that it wasn't until he used the same technique in The Birds that anyone took notice. Well, even the greats have to find their footing.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:28 PM on April 12, 2008


Also see also. I stand by this.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:29 PM on April 12, 2008


I find the birds to be nearly unwatchable. It's just silly.
posted by empath at 5:39 PM on April 12, 2008


I think if their point was to show people menaced by an invisible something, they should have also excised the birds screeching, too.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:39 PM on April 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I kind of like the screeching. I also enjoy the little ripples of movement where the birds once were, like the characters are being attacked by screaming twitches of air.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:46 PM on April 12, 2008


I saw at least one bird.
posted by parmanparman at 5:51 PM on April 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why do invisible birds sound exactly like strangled cats?
posted by DU at 5:54 PM on April 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


If only there were a program with which we could excise your screeching Dave Faris. Now that would be progress.

(jk;)

Yo Poolio, where you been man? Long time no see.


Flying birds. excellent birds. watch them fly. there they go. falling snow. excellent snow. here it comes. watch it fall.
posted by vronsky at 5:55 PM on April 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, I'm not creeped out. The result seen here is rather obvious, and not at all "seamless". First I have to suspend my disbelief that a woman would go out in a boat in a fur coat and high heels, then I have to ignore the obvious early 60's matte shots, and now I have to pretend I didn't see the psychedelic motion blur where the bird hit her head.

At points the videos seemed to exhibit weird frame-drop compression artifacts; is this a product of compression for Internet broadcast, or normal outcome of this technique?
posted by Tube at 5:55 PM on April 12, 2008


Conceptually, this version of Hitchcock's The Birds is amazing, making clear the primordial nature of the threat represented by the birds and Melanie Daniels's arrival in Bodega Bay.

I agree with Dave Faris that this would be more effective (by several orders of psychoanalytic exponent) without the sound of the birds either screeching or flapping.

In terms of execution, the artifacts are distracting, but the job done so far is superb.

OT: I wonder if the meta mods would have removed this post if I had included a rickroll, or maybe even this post simply for mentioning such.
posted by mistersquid at 6:26 PM on April 12, 2008


Birds are evil but invisible birds are even more evil.

Also, I had forgotten what a babe Susan Pleshette was.
posted by hojoki at 6:39 PM on April 12, 2008


Other potential candidates for this technique include:

Pauly Shore movies without Pauly Shore
The Actor's Studio without James Lipton
ALF without ALF
Steven Seagal movies with everything edited out except for Steven Seagal
Dancing With the Stars without a sense of intense self loathing from all involved
posted by bwerdmuller at 6:42 PM on April 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Watching it on mute, I had the sensation that it was some 60's film about the Soviets invading.
posted by Atreides at 6:44 PM on April 12, 2008


My first impression Tube was that it wasn't meant to creep you out, quiet the opposite. Instead I saw it as a commentary on the government's use of "terror" -- be it birds, bombs or burkhas -- to confuse and control the masses.
posted by vronsky at 6:44 PM on April 12, 2008


quite
posted by vronsky at 6:44 PM on April 12, 2008


Steven Seagal movies with everything edited out except for Steven Seagal

That's how Steven Segal movies already are.
posted by DU at 6:47 PM on April 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll probably agree with 99% of the Steven Segal haters out there, but Under Siege 2: Dark Territory may be the best B action movie ever made. If I'm up late flipping channels and come across it, I have to watch. You can throw all the rest of his films to the bottom of the sea (along with his ponytail), but that one deserves a little love.
posted by vronsky at 7:08 PM on April 12, 2008


The awesome thing about Steven Segal movies is that he generally ends up fighting people with no martial arts experience at all. It's rarely a fair fight. He just walks into a bar and mops the floor with some poor sap who's moving his fists around like he's boxing.

Also, great post.
posted by brundlefly at 7:24 PM on April 12, 2008


Somehow I'm reminded of Jennifer and Kevin McCoy's work. In particular "Every Anvil", a self-contained video database (including screen and player) cataloging every moment in every Looney Tunes cartoon when a character gets clobbered with an anvil. It's about violence and media and childhood and such. They made three of them. I want one very badly indeed.
posted by The Bellman at 7:27 PM on April 12, 2008


I never saw the movie, but the original short story by Daphne du Maurier creeped the hell out of me as a kid.

Also, there's going to be a remake, apparently, in 2009.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:53 PM on April 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else find the phrasing 'exact copy of Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds from which all the birds have been removed' incredibly awkward, given that it actually is just Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds from which all the birds have been removed?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:11 PM on April 12, 2008


Other potential candidates for this technique include:

I've thought before that a great project would be L'avventura with all the actors removed. Just those amazing backgrounds that already hulk over the tiny people...
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:30 PM on April 12, 2008


Neat. For invisible menaces, however, I really prefer those found in Forbidden Planet.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:30 PM on April 12, 2008


Not going to watch it, but assuming the description of it is accurate:

Errrr...

Doesn't the fact that the assumedly nonexistent birds actually draw blood kind of defeat the entire purpose of this?
posted by Flunkie at 8:45 PM on April 12, 2008


Blair Witch had an invisible menace. And invisible plot and invisible acting. I think we should Alfred's birds in that and you might have something to keep me awake.
posted by tkchrist at 9:25 PM on April 12, 2008


Doesn't the fact that the assumedly nonexistent birds actually draw blood kind of defeat the entire purpose of this?

That and the fact that there's constant bird noise, people discussing the birds' attacks, dialog like this:
Townsperson: What happened?
Mitch: A gull attacked her.
makes it less than effective. Not to mention the incredibly poorly-clone-tooled artifacts all over every shot whenever a bird has been erased.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:25 PM on April 12, 2008


shakespeherian: "Does anyone else find the phrasing 'exact copy of Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds from which all the birds have been removed' incredibly awkward, given that it actually is just Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds from which all the birds have been removed?"

I don't get your meaning. What's awkward about describing a movie as what "it actually is"?

If you're talking about the "exact copy" part, that's just to differentiate their project from a series of collated scenes, or a reenactment. They're emphasizing that every part of their movie is a full-length, unedited copy of the original... just without the birds.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:33 PM on April 12, 2008


This movie creeped me out as well as many other Daphne de Maurier stories. The eyeball scene will be imbedded in my memory forever. I got a little scared just watching the 3 minute scene with no birds visible.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:30 AM on April 13, 2008


Under Siege 2: Dark Territory may be the best B action movie ever made.

Not a patch on Commando.

also: one for flapjax.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:38 AM on April 13, 2008


Haha! That was great, Ubu! Shane was in pretty good form for that one, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:17 AM on April 13, 2008


Well if the original negative were available one could do almost the same thing since in most scenes the birds were rotoscoped in. Aside from a few trained birds and a few mechanical birds, the actors were, well Acting!
posted by Gungho at 5:51 AM on April 13, 2008


Exactly, Gungho. If I were asked to take all the birds out of that film I'd ask for the original negative first. If they couldn't find it I'd have to take a pass on that job.
posted by podwarrior at 7:27 AM on April 13, 2008


This project is excellent if only for the opportunity it presents:

Once they're done, I'm going to take their work and then put the birds back in, and release it as a comment on comments on current events and social idiosyncrasies using classic works and a defense of art for art's sake, pulling off a focused, super-anti-propaganda

And then I will unlock the Metafilter 360 "Double Meta" achievement and unlock the Mathowie alternate costume!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:24 AM on April 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


Very cool. I was just enjoying Garfield Minus Garfield, and it's interesting how awareness of removed content seems to guarantee an uncanny bereftness

I don't think it really works here. Garfield worked because the original aimed for a sense of familiarity and simple silly comfortable humor. Removing Garfield (and some other manipulation) was a bizarre recontextualization that made the whole thing dark, weird, and almost beautifully funny; it made the main character seem depressed and angst-ridden and fucked up in a kind of hilarious way. The whole tone of the comic was altered and yet the simple silly lines of the drawing were exactly the same, so it produced this great oscillation between two worlds.

But here, Hitchcock had already given us the weirdness, the oscillation between the bright pretty ultra-normal townspeople and the unreasoning unforgiving creatures of flight, individuals at first, eventually a swarm, that invade. Removing them doesn't change the tone or cast a whole new light on anything. It may make you reflect a little bit more than you might have before or something, but I really don't think this offers a serious shift of perspective.
posted by mdn at 11:14 AM on April 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


mdn, I think it's more functional that you argue, because of the very unbelieveability Tube cited. The professed and native weirdness of Hitchcock's films is weighed down heavily by their style and primacy as referents for kitsch for viewers today, for many of his works, arguably The Birds above all. I think it's within this patently unrealistic and stilted diegesis that the work of Give Us Today Our Daily Terror performs. I won't say there's a serious shift in perspective formed by the removal of the birds in this work, but an effect that feels to me like incorrigible manipulation - marionette-string pulling of the flatly and unsympathetically emotional figures represented. It's pointing to the ludicrousness of their enactments of fear, laughing at their inauthenticity and unreality as "people." Their mocked hysteria then contrasts with the sterility of their matte diegetic/social environment to coldy re-enact the vertiginous upset and pointlessness of psychoanalysis. But your POV works too.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:15 PM on April 13, 2008


Remember on the Addam's Family tv show what would happen when Morticia would speak French to Gomez? I get those same feelings when AV gets all grad school.

Kiss me you fool!
posted by vronsky at 2:08 PM on April 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


The professed and native weirdness of Hitchcock's films is weighed down heavily by their style and primacy as referents for kitsch for viewers today, for many of his works, arguably The Birds above all.

"is weighed down heavily"? How could they have that "native weirdness" without the stylistic choices? If you read reviews, it's not as if people were unaware of those choices. Hitchcock was considered a master of melodrama or "psychodrama". The birds in The Birds were nothing to begin with! They never had a purpose or a reason for attacking...

The imperfect animation effect creates wavering borders of the ghost-bodies that have a preternatural sensuality which conflicts evocatively with the violence of their absence, as a very perplexing gendered sexuality study.

You don't need "ghost bodies" to create that sense of fluttering sensuality, though! That's why they're birds to begin with. Remember what women were called in the 60's? All through the movie there are references to the contrast between the unbelievably perfect "birds" with their coiffed hair and flawless make-up vs the irrational ephemeral evil birds that dart out of the sky as if from nowhere.

There is a sort of hypnotic emptiness to this version, as it seems static, no potentiality for one to become many, for a moment to become an overwhelming swarm, and that is a sort of interesting thought, but I certainly wouldn't bother watching the entire version, and I think people are seriously underestimating the original if they think this reveals something significant that wasn't already there.
posted by mdn at 4:23 PM on April 13, 2008


Well, my view of Hitchcock is marked by resistance to what I would call his modern psychological incoherence, which is the potent motivation behind his genius mise-en-scene, but which is weirded more and more as our paranoias are relocated over time. So, coeval reviews of The Birds are only relevant for my critique in contrast to new ones. I read this removal as an attempt at an underscore to the ironic detachment unique to a 2008 post-whatever reading of The Birds, which is for most viewers going to be highly influenced by the contrast of deliberate as well as accidental flat affect with the inexplicable hysteria in the original. It's no disrespect to The Birds or detourn it and see what new perspectives arise in reception. Art is subject to context!

You don't need "ghost bodies" to create that sense of fluttering sensuality, though!

If you're comparing sexuality in Removed and The Birds, I'm not sure what your intented point is.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:07 PM on April 13, 2008


I'm calling "shenanigans!" here.

AV's opening paragraph above is clearly Markov-generated.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:15 PM on April 13, 2008


Yeah, I think I just markoved into my underwear a little bit.
posted by vronsky at 6:23 PM on April 13, 2008


If you're comparing sexuality in Removed and The Birds, I'm not sure what your intented point is.

oh sorry, I got confused there - somehow thought you were talking about the "ghost bodies" left by the poorly rendered removal of the birds in these videos - I guess I thought you were going back to talking about the post after one reference to that other film, not that your whole post was about the other film. My mistake, should have read more carefully. (But it's inaccurate to say it's "total obliteration" when it does have the leftover moving imprint of poor animation, which is what I originally thought you were commenting on)

but which is weirded more and more as our paranoias are relocated over time.

yeah, to me it often seems like people just become less aware of their own psychology and deny metaphorical representations of it because they flatly reject notions of its complexity. Contemporary movies seem to have become extremely literal, so that symbolism has to be fully explained and double-layered (ie, it has to work literally, and then have a symbolic overtone, not just represent or reveal something about human nature)

Art is subject to context!

eh, as a fan of a lot of art & thought that is hundreds if not thousands of years old, I think we can understand other contexts perfectly well if we're paying attention.
posted by mdn at 7:45 PM on April 13, 2008


What would they call the movie if they removed all the birds?

Alfred Hitchcock's The?
posted by joelf at 2:06 PM on April 14, 2008


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