Most think of hands as just another body part, when in reality they are of grave importance in many aspects of life. The Birdman of Alcatraz clearly exemplifies this within the first minute of the movie. Robert Stroud uses his hands to aid the birds that reside within the prison facilities. Not only does he aid the birds to recover, but he also cares for them and learns about them. In the opening scene, Stroud cups the small bird in a compassionate way, just as a mother would cradle her new darling infant. Robert Stroud committed murders in cold blood and certainly without compassion for his victims, but still he finds a sincere kindness for the birds.
Birds themselves can be looked at as helpless creatures. If they injure themselves they have no hands to aid themselves in the recovery process. Stroud shows his victims no compassion, but injured birds are an entirely different story. Birds have 2 legs and 2 wings; wings do not act as hands and certainly do not aid a bird if their legs are broken. Birds are incapable of committing any atrocious crimes, but still one of the most dangerous criminals is drawn towards these meek creatures.
A murderer, Robert Stroud most definitely needed to use his hands in order to commit the killing for which he was originally convicted. Thus he uses his hands to kill a guard while serving his first sentence at Alcatraz. His hands are filthy, covered with the blood of multiple men. In a less common thought, built a platform in which to hang him for his excessive violence. His mother then lends out a helping hand to her beloved son to stop the execution. Hands either kill or save people, but there seems to be no blatant medium in the film.
The lighting of the cinematography shows the darkness of Stroud’s hands at the beginning of the film, but within his hands is a small bird whose color is even darker. The lighting asphyxiates the bird within Stroud’s collected hands, but in reality he earnestly wants to learn and help the birds, not harm them. The lighting around his mother, who essentially saves Stroud from death, is drastically brighter than the opening scenes. Hands are responsible for many actions committed by prisoners and saviors alike, but it is the way in which they are used that illustrates the character behind the actions.