Review: In the wrenching ‘Armageddon Time,’ a filmmaker powerfully confronts his own privilege and guilt.
Alfred Hitchcock directed his final film in 1972. It was not a happy release for any of his creations, but even in an era with an appetite for movies about serial killers and serial women who have an abortion, the release of The Birds was still seen as a momentous event. The film would go on to generate an enormous amount of critical and popular attention, which is the kind of attention that is granted to films that turn on a single image in a way that doesn’t have to do with filmic innovation or high-end production values. It is the kind of attention that can last in the face of any number of distractions, and it is only if a filmmaker can resist that kind of scrutiny and still remain strong that he can resist the forces that would rob him of his success.
The Birds was a film about the fall of innocence. Its central conceit was the power of one image, in the form of a photograph, to bring back a woman’s faith in life. It was this idea that Hitchcock was using as the basis for the film that would become his last great film. It was a powerful and provocative idea, one that not only changed the way that the public thought about cinema in the late 1970s but would, years later, change the way that the public thought about movies in general.
The Birds would have been a great film if The Conversation were a great film, but the film was less than brilliant, and the dialogue was as overblown as any in the career of the director. The film does not so much feature the death of a bird as that of a child.
It follows the young girl, Jane (Emmy Rossum), whose mother died when Jane was three, and who lives in the country with her grandfather, who has an old house and a farm. Jane lives a life of quiet desperation, and when she is seven her mother dies in childbirth. Her father moves away to an unknown destination, and Jane becomes increasingly withdrawn from her friends. Her grandfather, however, notices that the child seems to be growing closer to him. He eventually takes