In Sophie Fiennes’ thoroughly wonderful, easily worth the $50 it’ll cost you to import the DVD The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, Slovenian cultural philosopher Slavoj Žižek discusses Hitchcock’s most ambiguous film. The big question about The Birds, of course, is the stupid obvious one: why do the birds attack? He goes on to elaborate; the birds are intrusions into conventional reality, specifically of ‘raw, incestuous energy’.
Not in the remake.
Ha! Thought that one wasn’t happening after all, didn’t you? Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes may have backed off, but Mandalay Pictures, which has a first look deal with Universal is all over it, with an early fall production start penciled in.
See what giving Oscars to people does? Mandalay prez Cathy Schulman won a little golden man for the insipid, on the nose morality play Crash,
and now she’s taking that "all subtext barred" approach to Bodega Bay.
Slipped into a report of executive hires and promotions at Mandalay was the sort of
take on The Birds only a Hollywood exec could have. The ‘stupid, obvious one’, that is.
Sez Schuman: We think we have a very contemporary take. In the
original, the birds just showed up, and it was kind of like, why are
the birds here? This time, there’s a reason why they’re here and
(people) have had something to do with it. There’s an environmental
slant to what could create nature fighting back.
If this new movie doesn’t consist entirely of a flock of sparrows
swooping down to peck Al Gore to death while presenting yet another
eco-doomsday graph, I’ll be bitterly disappointed.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially on a day when we’re further reporting the death of satire in the new Death Race 2000 remake,
but yes: a film that has endured precisely due to a core of ambiguity
is having that core eviscerated to suit the palate of a modern,
anticritical audience. Or an anticritical executive base, at the very
Whether you agree with Žižek’s reading or not
(though how anyone could see any explanation more clear escapes me)
there’s simply no getting around the fact that as a cut and dried,
rationalized set of actions and reaction, The Birds will be a hollow, vapid exercise.
They’ll probably use music in the film, too.
On a much better note, New Yorkers have exactly today and tomorrow to see The Pervert’s Guide To Cinema at MOMA, while Boston residents can catch it Saturday as part of the Boston Independent Film Festival.