A biology teacher and his wife take their two children to an island summer house to enable him to write an important thesis while getting over the death of their son. While they are there, large flocks of birds appear and begin to attack individual humans for no apparent reason. The town mayor (who is also the local doctor) refuses to believe that birds are responsible for the spate of injuries that are occurring but, before long, he has no option but to believe as the birds begin attacking larger groups of people. Written by
Daphne Du Maurier's short story has inspired another attempt to tell the tale using the medium of film, with its advantages of visual images of the unusual behaviour of birds. Personally, I prefer the book, with its advantages of subtlety, but film has the important characteristic of attracting more viewers than books do readers. On the other hand, this particular film has the special disadvantage of telling the same story, transposed to another coastal village, as a deservedly famous film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Needless to say, The Birds II: Land's End does not manage to recreate the atmosphere of The Birds, but the acting of the family, Brad Johnson and Chelsea Field as Ted and May and two less well-known actresses as their daughters, at least compensated to some extent for a surprisingly weak unfolding of the tale of the aggression of birds, and the mostly irrational reactions of people to the unexpected. However, the dialogue with people in the village could have been much wittier.
The one feature which was better than the much more famous film of this short story was the landscapes. Alfred Hitchcock concentrated on suspense, whilst this film has time to dwell more on aesthetics. Admittedly, this still does not bring it anywhere near to the class of The Birds, but it is still quite enjoyable.
Why, one might ask, should a short story that has already been filmed so well be filmed again. The answer, in my opinion, lies in not being tied down to one set of images, so that the short story regains the elements of conjuring up a reader's images from his own imagination. The Birds II: Land's End offers the reader an alternative set of images to the ones which have been so ingrained into people's minds. It is also interesting to note that Jamaica Inn, Rebecca and Don't Look Now have all been filmed more than once.
Although the film is weaker than The Birds, it is a passable filming of Daphne Du Maurier's short story.
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