Alfred Hitchcock does for our avian buddies what It later did for clowns, as The Birds hits 4K Ultra HD. Ah, but is it feathered friend, or feathered fiend?
The story: Tippi Hedren – Melanie Griffith’s mum (or “mom” if you prefer) – makes her screen debut in this natural horror tale of a small town and its bird population going somewhat bonkers. Socialite Melanie Daniels’ knowledge of birds is discovered to be wanting in a pet shop practical joke, so, fancying the lawyer purveyor of this prank, she purchases a pair of lovebirds and schleps out to Bodega Bay to deliver them. The bird grapevine has obviously passed on that Mel is a bit uneducated about their species and, apparently taking exception to this ignorance (or her imprisoning two of their brethren in a cage), they decide to attack her at every opportunity. Much pecking ensues…
” Are the birds gonna eat us, Mummy?”
The 4K disc: A native 4K transfer is the order of the day here, and most of the time it looks magnificent. There are several optical effects at play – Hitchcock would likely have adored the availability of CGI – and many of these tend to be less sharp, by the very nature of overlaying shot upon shot. HDR aids the colour side of things, with some wonderfully classic vivid hues on display, and an improvement in clarity of black levels in particular. As you might expect, film grain is a presence, but it rarely makes itself intrusive at reasonable viewing distances.
While recent 4K releases of Vertigo and Psycho were afforded lovely new DTS:X mixes, the audio here is of the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 variety. Despite being essentially a mono presentation, and our imaginations going crazy at what could have been with birds coming at us from all of the speakers, the aural frights and delights work surprisingly as intended, while dialogue remains distinct at all times.
Extras-wise, the 4K disc delivers with the fascinating ~80-minute doco All About ‘The Birds’, a monster movie featurette, Tippi Hedren’s screen test, both an original ending and deleted scene presented via storyboards and images, more Hitchcock/Truffaut interview grabs, a Hitch intro and a newsreel. A handy standard Blu-ray also includes all of these, plus a storyboard gallery and a selection of production stills.
Release date: July 7, 2021
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.