The Birds (1963) dir. Alfred Hitchcock

4/16 @ The Brattle at 7PM


Birds, while beautiful, cannot be trusted; similarly to women.

This is what I saw reverberated in my viewing of the famous horror film director Albert Hitchcock’s The Birds.

His sixth to last feature film, and the follow up to his 1960 film Psycho, The Birds earned particular acclaim upon its release, being deemed a masterpiece as well as being selected by the U.S. Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry.

The film follows Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) as she meets her love interest, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) in a bird shop in downtown San Francisco. Daniels is instantly intrigued by Brenner, despite his criticism of her reputation as a deceitful and perhaps irresponsible woman.

Having been thoroughly insulted during their meet-cute, Daniels decides to track down Brenner and deliver a pair of lovebirds to him, which had been the original purpose of his visit to the bird store. As Daniels gets into Bodega Bay, the small coastal town in which the Brenner family lives, she introduces herself to many of the characters of in town. She searches for the necessary transportation and information to deliver the lovebirds to the Brenner home, as if a gift for Brenner younger sister, and slip away before being caught.



After successfully delivering the lovebirds, and almost as direct punishment for this minor deceit, Daniels is attacked by a seagull! From here, we realize, along with the residents of Bodega Bay, that the birds for one reason or another are fed up and have begun to utilize their numbers to take back their town. As the birds descend on the town to wreak havoc and poke everyone’s eyes out, Daniels and Brenner have to escape themselves while trying to understand what is happening and why.

Mrs. Bundy, a patron of what could be the only restaurant in town, happens to be a bird expert, and is the one and only woman in the film who is not represented as a trickster, a schemer, overly anxious, or a flat out liar. She explains to Daniels that it would be impossible for birds to attack as they aren’t particularly smart: “I hardly think that either species would have sufficient intelligence to launch a master attack, [she laughs] their brain pans are not big enough. ”

After telling Daniels that birds are on the planet to bring beauty, but their brains are not capable of complex thinking, she realizes the danger they would have in numbers: “I have never known birds of different species to flock together. The very concept is unimaginable. Why, if that happened, we wouldn’t have a chance!”

To think of the parallels between Mrs. Bundy’s information about the birds and Hitchcock’s portrayal of the women in this film: both are beautiful, yet dangerous; both must be caged or tamed, in order to be controlled, yet they should also be cared for and looked after; when focused on the differences between one another, both may only see the ways that they are in competition, the birds for food and the women (of this town) for the attention of Mitch Brenner. But as Mrs. Bundy says, both birds and these women know not what terror they could impart if they banded together.

A terrifying example of what can go wrong when natural forces (in this case the birds, not the women) join forces to occupy space, The Birds is a Hitchcockian classic and a must see.

The Birds
dir. Alfred Hitchcock
120 min

Screens Wednesday, 4/16 at 7PM @ Brattle Theatre
Double feature with
The Last Winter
Part of the ongoing series: Global Warning

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