Scrolling Headlines:

Student Activism Special Issue Preview Video -

March 27, 2017

Anthropology professor holds lecture on violence and policymaking -

March 27, 2017

Student Activism Special Issue 2017 -

March 27, 2017

Congressmen McGovern and Ellison discuss progressive politics under Trump administration on Saturday -

March 27, 2017

SGA President Anthony Vitale and Vice President Lily Wallace promise to improve assistance to student activists next year -

March 27, 2017

Editor’s note: UMass works because they do -

March 27, 2017

The UMass club that is un-beelievable -

March 27, 2017

Interview with Ghazah Abbasi, Sanctuary Campus Movement organizer -

March 27, 2017

Association of Diversity in Sport draws competition in FIFA Tournament -

March 27, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Brown University in OT thriller -

March 27, 2017

Real Estate finds tranquility, but breaks little new ground on ‘In Mind’ -

March 27, 2017

UMass baseball takes series behind two straight wins over George Washington -

March 27, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Amherst should vote no on education referendum -

March 27, 2017

Make small-scale activism sexy again -

March 27, 2017

Defense holds strong for UMass men’s lacrosse in loss to Brown -

March 27, 2017

Strong second half lifts UMass women’s lacrosse past Marist, 10-7 -

March 27, 2017

Letter to the Editor: UMass alum reflects on his time at the Collegian -

March 27, 2017

Environmental journalists face challenges under Trump administration -

March 25, 2017

An open letter to the students of UMass -

March 24, 2017

Pat Kelsey informs UMass AD Ryan Bamford of change of heart just 35 minutes before scheduled press conference -

March 23, 2017

Podos showcases ‘The Birds’ at Amherst Cinema

Matt Modica/Collegian

Matt Modica/Collegian

When watching a modern horror, it’s hard not to find a borrowed technique or reference of horror films past, particularly of Alfred Hitchcock – the father of the genre. Hitchcock’s distinct style has been analyzed and broken down by every spoken line, shot and cut, but what more can be learned from the stories of the “Master of Horror?

Amherst Cinema’s “Science on Screen” film series seeks a response to this question through guest lecturers who provide more perspective to classic films from a context of science. The theater began its film series on Tuesday night with Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” featuring guest lecturer and avian connoisseur Jeff Podos of the UMass Biology department.

Professor Podos has spent several years studying the intricacies of vocal behavior of birds and their evolutionary biology in Brazil, the eastern United States and the Galapagos Islands. He deals primarily with Darwinian Finches from the Galapagos region.

“It’s important to think about how science and filmmaking intersect,” said Podos. “[They] are more similar than one might think about. They are done by creative people that are attempting to search for common truths.” Likening science and its practice to filmmaking, Podos emphasized, “Both start with some vision about what needs to be achieved and then, a relentless pursuit of that particular vision.”

Podos asserted that Hitchcock had such vision and exemplified it in his ability to exploit people’s fears through his operational mastery and advancement in the special effects of his era.

“The movie is very human-centric … there’s this big mystery throughout the story about what’s going on with the birds and what’s driving them. What my research does is it takes the perspective of the bird – as in what does it see in its world and how does it interact with challenges it faces,” said Podos.

The professor provided a sample of what his research has found about the behaviors of birds and their evolutionary characteristics. He discussed his observations of varying Galapagos finches describing the way in which their respective environments have altered the shapes of their beaks and the ways they sing.

“We now know that when birds produce vocal signals, when they sing, they’re using their beak … something unappreciated about 30 years ago,” said Podos.

His research has also found that female finches of a particular species only respond to certain vocalizations of males of their species, and coincidentally, the beak shape of males plays a huge role in the sounds they produce.

The lecture provided some interesting context in the way that birds communicate and even reproduce. Upon watching the film after its screening, it seemed that the observations Podos has made didn’t entirely figure into Hitchcock’s portrayal of his villainous birds. The film depicts the sadistic creatures merely cawing like the screeches of worn tires in their relentless and inexplicable terrorizing.

Still, a biology lesson never hurt.

Adam Abdelmaksoud can be reached at aabdelma@student.umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “Podos showcases ‘The Birds’ at Amherst Cinema”
  1. Diane Maksoud says:

    Great piece, interesting when the biology is the focus!

  2. Diane Maksoud says:

    I enjoyed the biology of the birds interesting to incorporate that aspect. Good piece, Adam!

Leave A Comment