Argento's directorial debut refined the burgeoning giallo genre and was a major box office success on release that began the director's reputation as the 'Italian Hitchcock'. Even if the scripting is weak at some points, Argento's style and mastery of the genre is immediately apparent.
Rewatch of a 4K restoration. Argento was never good at constructing plots that make sense, but he *was* good at constructing scenes that are memorable in and of themselves. A woman in my screening who had never seen this before audibly gasped when Giulia sees the killer come up the stairs after her, and several people 'oooo'ed when Carlo describes the titular bird...almost like seeing it for the first time.
Argento's debut directorial effort didn't so much engender a genre as concretize one, and w/ it a template was set down that would be repurposed by countless filmmakers up to today. BIRD isn't just one of my favourite debuts, it is one of my favourite movies, extremely stylistically rich and cunning in its situation of the spectator. The first (attempted) murder set piece is inarguably one of cinema's very finest.
[Spoilers] Formally Argento's best film; romantic interplay without the silliness of "Profondo Rosso", decent acting without the hamminess of "Suspiria", and a more believable killer than that of "Opera". Plus, a great twist where our presumptions about the gender of victim and killer are neatly reversed.
There is much of Dario Argento's later movies in this strong debut, e.g. the claustrophobic views of rooms and stairways, the cut of (at least partly) illuminated and nearly dark sections. And of course it contains a fine and real suggestive score by Ennio Morricone, one of the rare colaborations between these two artists.
Honestly, I prefer Argento's earlier mystery films like this and Deep Red to his later supernatural horror pieces. There's a level of style and suspense here that's flashy, but also restrained. Also, am I the only one who thinks the freakiest character was the artist who eats cats? That was hard to stomach.
Musante, like the audience, is witness to an event. Trapped behind the glass of the screen, we watch, passively, impotently, as a drama takes place. What we see is significant. But how can we trust something as manipulative as film? Through investigation? So the film - produced by a former critic - is effectively a study on 'film viewing'; how an audience (witness?) can scrutinise form in order to find answers...
Dario Argento's feature debut clearly illustrates his budding talent as a visual cinematic genius. Taking a rather ordinary giallo plot, he stages stunning sequences that take the genre to new heights. The plot drags in places, and some of the twists don't really make sense - but still a classic thriller. Ennio Morricone's evocative score adds an eerie touch.