The filming of one of many strongest scenes of the American filmmaker’s masterpiece, broadcast this Sunday on Arte, became a nightmare for the actress. A glance again at every week of labor from which she emerged traumatized and beneath medical remedy.
“Hitchcock provides his actors little or no freedom. He listens to you, however he has a really particular plan in thoughts as to how he needs his characters to behave. With me, it was comprehensible, as a result of I used to be not an skilled actress. » These phrases of Tippi Hedren, final muse of the grasp of suspense, reported within the Alfred Hitchcock by Patrick McGilligan (Actes Sud, 2011), set the tone of his relationship with the filmmaker. Earlier than these positively flip bitter on No spring for Marnie, the filming of Birds had reserved its share of tensions, due as a lot to the anxieties of Hitchcock, doubting to repeat the inventive and business triumph of his two earlier movies (Demise on the heels and Psychosis), solely to the scruples of Tippi Hedren, mannequin propelled actress by the need of the director-Pygmalion.
One other component would make this filming anxious: the use, regardless of 300 and seventy particular results, of genuine birds attacking the characters, and consequently the actors of the movie. Particularly throughout the scene the place the birds (ravens, seagulls and crows) enter the Brenner household dwelling by the chimney and assault Melanie-Tippi, who has taken refuge within the attic. Filmed the primary week of April 1962, at Common Studios, it became a nightmare. As Donald Spoto reminds us in The Darkish Facet of a Genius, the actual lifetime of Alfred Hitchcock (Albin Michel, 1989), “We had instructed Tippi Hedren, earlier than beginning this week of capturing, that we might use mechanical birds, as a result of anything was virtually inconceivable. However when she arrived on set that Monday morning, James Brown, the assistant director, knowledgeable her that mechanical birds wouldn’t be used as a result of they’d been discovered to look too ‘equipment “.
An hour later, Tippi, together with her again to the wall, noticed two gloved assistants throw birds at her. “I used to be doing my greatest to remain calm. It was so appalling. I actually needed to fend off the birds. They weren’t attacking. It was not of their nature. However they have been coming at me and I needed to defend myself,” she’s going to bear in mind. The actress hoped a couple of takes could be sufficient. Nonetheless, Hitchcock, though “upset”, in accordance with her, was decided to make this terrifying sequence a bit of bravery filmed from all angles. In the course of the week, Cary Grant, filming on a close-by set, visited the staff. “He mentioned to me, ‘You’re a very courageous girl.’ I instructed him he was exaggerating. Nevertheless it was actually terrible,” Hedren will confess. Which often receives beaks from birds simply as frightened because it and which can not keep away from it.
“Day after day, for every week, the poor girl endured all this, will inform his associate Jessica Tandy. [Tippi] was alone within the room remodeled right into a cage and performed in entrance of those birds which rushed at her; and with the costume adjustments and make-up and all of the blood, she could not even eat lunch within the canteen. I actually do not perceive how she did it. » On Fridays, as Spoto recounts, when Hitchcock wished extra close-ups, “a really nervous fowl swooped over the actress’ left eye. We averted a disaster, however he had deeply lower his decrease eyelid. Right now, she grew to become hysterical and fully collapsed. They cleared the tray instantly and took her dwelling, however a weekend of relaxation was not sufficient to revive her. » Traumatized, beneath sedatives, Tippi Hedren was in a position, nonetheless, to renew filming after every week off. However his relationship to the cinema could be perpetually altered.
s The birds, Sunday September 18 at 8:55 p.m. on Arte.