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The Birds (film)

The Birds (1963) is a horror film by Alfred Hitchcock, based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier. (Hitchcock also adapted Du Maurier's novel Rebecca into an acclaimed film) about birds mobbing humans.

The screenplay for The Birds was written by Evan Hunter, better known as crime fiction novelist Ed McBain. This film is notable in that it has no music score per se (other than brief source music); instead a montage of assorted bird calls and sound effects put together by perennial Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann provides the "incidental music".

In the film, various kinds of birds attack Bodega Bay, California, a seaside village. It may be noted that in Du Maurier's story, the birds attack Britain instead of California.


Synopsis

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

A young lady (Hedren) visits a bird shop on a Friday afternoon. There, she meets Mitch (Taylor), a lawyer that is looking for two lovebirds for his little sister. She pretends to be the shopkeeper, showing him various species of birds, until she accidentally lets out a canary. When Mitch reveals after the incident that he knows her as Melanie Daniels, the daughter of a newspaper magnate, and tells her off for being a spoiled prankster, she decides to pay a visit to his house to get back at him and give his sister the lovebirds that he couldn't obtain. Outside, a flock of pigeons menacingly circle the sky.

When she arrives at the town of Bodega Bay, she seeks out Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette), the local teacher, in order to learn the name of Mitch's sister, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright). Then, she travels out by boat and stealthily enters Mitch's house, placing the present in the living room. On the way back, however, a seagull inexplicably swoops down and claws her.

Cleaning up her wounds, Melanie gives Mitch the alibi that Annie was an old friend of hers and she wanted to pay a visit. She then returns to Annie's house, rents out a room for the weekend, and heads over to Mitch's house for dinner. There, his mother, Lydia (Jessica Tandy), argues with someone over the phone that the chicken feed she bought was defective—her chickens wouldn't eat a bite—only to learn that the vendor's own fowl, who had been given a different brand, had the same problem. After dinner, Melanie returns to Annie's house and the two chat about their past, when a thud is heard against the front door. Opening the door, Melanie discovers a dead crow sprawled on the ground.

The next day, Cathy hosts a birthday party. A peaceful flock of birds make their way across the clear blue sky as Melanie and Mitch walk along the beach. As time goes on, however, the sound of bird calls grows louder, and a shadowy cloud appears over the festivities. All of a sudden, a bird swoops down and switches Cathy on the ear, and an attack on the party commences. Terrified guests rush into the house as birds scratch, peck, and bite at them ravenously and without motive.

From then on, things go from bad to worse as bird attacks increase, both in scope and in violence. Lydia drives over to the farmer who sold her the defective chicken feed and discovers a gory corpse with his eyes gouged out. After fleeing the scene in a hysteria, Lydia begs Melanie to keep watch over Cathy during school the next day. A flock of crows gather in the playground, and when Melanie evacuates the school, they viciously tear at the children, nearly killing one of them.

At a pub where a majority of the children have evacuated, Melanie bears witness to the death of a gas clerk across the street after a seagull attacks him. A trail of gasoline makes its way down the road, to where a man is lighting a cigarette. The cries of bystanders are in vain, and a shattering explosion alerts scores of birds, who attack those who rushed out to help the clerk. Melanie runs to assist, but quickly retreats to a phone booth as she is attacked. From that vantage point, she bears witness to the horrific spectacle as birds rush at her from all angles. The local fire department soon arrives to fight the fire and end up fighting the birds instead. A dying man leans against the booth, slowly collapsing and leaving a streak of blood on the glass, which begins to crack as birds endlessly peck and fly at it. Finally, Mitch ventures into the storm and brings her back into the pub, where a woman accuses her of being cursed.

At last, the screeching of the birds comes to an end. Melanie sets out in search of Annie and Cathy. Annie lies dead on her porch, while a terrified Cathy uncontrollably sobs. Melanie comforts Cathy and Mitch brings Annie inside, as the afternoon descends into dusk.

Cathy, Melanie, Mitch, and Lydia hole up in their house, boarding up all the windows, doors, and openings, with the exception of a single fireplace that has a fire going around the clock. In this claustrophobic environment, the four spend hours wondering when the next attack will come. Finally, a clamor erupts, and Mitch quickly checks and repairs openings while the rest look on, terrified out of their wits. The power goes out, and Mitch gets a flashlight from the basement.

Later on, Melanie wakes up with the intuition that something is terribly wrong. She grabs Mitch's flashlight and carefully examines the rooms, then cautiously treads the stairs, opens a door, and goes inside. Birds attack her from all sides as she gazes at a gigantic hole in the ceiling. Unable to fight, she collapses onto the floor, nearly dying before Mitch comes and rescues her. Realizing that she needs to get to a hospital, he tells the others that they have to leave, and daringly ventures outside to get the car. Here, Hitchcock offers one of the most surreal and apocalyptic scenes to appear on film, as a sea of birds move under a cloudy twilight. Mitch quietly enters the garage and turns on the car radio, which reports that bird attacks have occurred further inland, mentioning the town of Santa Rosa, about thirty miles away. He brings the car around front and helps Cathy, Melanie, and Lydia inside, then drives away, parting waves of birds that seem to lie in anticipation of something...

The ending to this movie is purposefully abrupt in order to allow the audience to make their own guesses as to why these birds attacked. One reason could be revenge/uprising. The caged lovebirds brought along throughout the movie serve as a subtle justification to the bird attacks. Could the birds be getting back at mankind for all the abuse, exploiting and hunting they have been through?


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Could the birds be getting back at mankind for all the abuse, exploiting and hunting they have been through?. Additionally, Kenneth Anger's 1949 dialogue-free short Puce Moment, which features a dark-haired woman slightly past her prime modelling an array of bright clothing for the camera, may be counted as an influence. The caged lovebirds brought along throughout the movie serve as a subtle justification to the bird attacks. The appearance of a deliberately stiff and artificial-seeming robin singing merrily to Jeffrey cements the impression of cynicism. One reason could be revenge/uprising. Just as Lynch's opening shots of perfect suburban America quickly prove too good to be true, his ending leaves doubt as to whether normalcy has really been recovered. The ending to this movie is purposefully abrupt in order to allow the audience to make their own guesses as to why these birds attacked. However, whereas Laughton's treatment of this ending seems heartfelt and has in fact been criticized as too saccharine or simplistic, Lynch's ending seems tongue in cheek, or even sarcastic.

He brings the car around front and helps Cathy, Melanie, and Lydia inside, then drives away, parting waves of birds that seem to lie in anticipation of something... In both Blue Velvet and Night of the Hunter, the trial of the adult world is ultimately followed by a return to innocence and childhood. Mitch quietly enters the garage and turns on the car radio, which reports that bird attacks have occurred further inland, mentioning the town of Santa Rosa, about thirty miles away. If Lynch was indeed influenced by Laughton, the ending of Blue Velvet deserves special attention. Here, Hitchcock offers one of the most surreal and apocalyptic scenes to appear on film, as a sea of birds move under a cloudy twilight. And in both films the child character loses his father in the first scene, and later seeks the help of a surrogate father figure but is disappointed in this appeal to adult, masculine authority. Realizing that she needs to get to a hospital, he tells the others that they have to leave, and daringly ventures outside to get the car. Both madmen are tied symbolically to a primal, animal or insect world.

Unable to fight, she collapses onto the floor, nearly dying before Mitch comes and rescues her. Both films feature a helpless woman held under the power of a sometimes disarming but ultimately terrifying madman. Birds attack her from all sides as she gazes at a gigantic hole in the ceiling. The story of a child or na´ve young man thrust into an unexpected adult world of crime, sex, and murder is common to both films, and the development of this subject as something of a journey towards the redemption of innocence also seems similar. She grabs Mitch's flashlight and carefully examines the rooms, then cautiously treads the stairs, opens a door, and goes inside. Many elements of Blue Velvet are reminiscent of Charles Laughton's 1955 one-shot-wonder, The Night of the Hunter. Later on, Melanie wakes up with the intuition that something is terribly wrong. In this second shot, the ear is no longer severed and decomposing, but is whole and clean.

The power goes out, and Mitch gets a flashlight from the basement. When Jeffrey finally comes through his hellish ordeal unscathed, the ear canal shot is replayed, only in reverse, zooming out from the ear. Finally, a clamor erupts, and Mitch quickly checks and repairs openings while the rest look on, terrified out of their wits. Notably, the camera does not reemerge from the ear canal until the end of the film. In this claustrophobic environment, the four spend hours wondering when the next attack will come. Indeed, just as Jeffrey's troubles begin, the audience is treated to a nightmarish sequence in which the camera zooms into the ear canal of the severed, decomposing ear. Cathy, Melanie, Mitch, and Lydia hole up in their house, boarding up all the windows, doors, and openings, with the exception of a single fireplace that has a fire going around the clock. The severed ear that Jeffrey discovers is also a key symbolic element; the ear is what leads Jeffrey into danger.

Melanie comforts Cathy and Mitch brings Annie inside, as the afternoon descends into dusk. Yellow Jacket". Annie lies dead on her porch, while a terrified Cathy uncontrollably sobs. One of Frank's sinister accomplices is also consistently identified through the yellow blazer he wears, and is referred to as "Mr. Melanie sets out in search of Annie and Cathy. The bug motif is recurrent throughout the film, most notably in the horrific bug-like oxygen mask that Frank wears, but also in the excuse that Jeffrey offers when he first gains access to Dorothy's apartment: he claims he is an insect exterminator. At last, the screeching of the birds comes to an end. This is generally recognized as a metaphor for the seedy underworld that Jeffrey will soon discover under the surface of his own suburban, Reaganesque paradise.

Finally, Mitch ventures into the storm and brings her back into the pub, where a woman accuses her of being cursed. The most consistent symbolism in Blue Velvet is an insect motif introduced at the end of the first scene, when the camera zooms in on a well-kept suburban lawn until it discovers, underground, a swarming nest of disgusting bugs. A dying man leans against the booth, slowly collapsing and leaving a streak of blood on the glass, which begins to crack as birds endlessly peck and fly at it. The tangled relationship which transpires between Jeffrey, sweetheart Sandy Williams (played by Laura Dern), the daughter of a detective, and Isabella Rossellini's femme fatale Dorothy Vallens, is twisted into even sharp relief by Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), a maniacal gangster who gets off by physically abusing others, breathing amyl nitrite (suggested by Dennis Hopper, was helium in Lynch's original script), and playing Roy Orbison's song, "In Dreams", preferably all at the same time. The local fire department soon arrives to fight the fire and end up fighting the birds instead. The film operates on a number of levels, coming on as both a detective mystery and a kitchen-sink drama. From that vantage point, she bears witness to the horrific spectacle as birds rush at her from all angles. In the process, he discovers that within his quaint suburban town exists a steamy underworld of kinky sex and brutal violence.

The cries of bystanders are in vain, and a shattering explosion alerts scores of birds, who attack those who rushed out to help the clerk. Melanie runs to assist, but quickly retreats to a phone booth as she is attacked. His curiosity piqued, he begins investigating the matter himself. A trail of gasoline makes its way down the road, to where a man is lighting a cigarette. In this deeply dark and bizarre film, Jeffrey Beaumont, played by Kyle MacLachlan, returns to his hometown after his father has a heart attack; while crossing a field he discovers a human ear and takes it to the police. At a pub where a majority of the children have evacuated, Melanie bears witness to the death of a gas clerk across the street after a seagull attacks him. The title is taken from a Bobby Vinton song by the same name, which is sung by Isabella Rossellini's character in the film. A flock of crows gather in the playground, and when Melanie evacuates the school, they viciously tear at the children, nearly killing one of them. Blue Velvet is a 1986 film directed and written by David Lynch.

After fleeing the scene in a hysteria, Lydia begs Melanie to keep watch over Cathy during school the next day. Lydia drives over to the farmer who sold her the defective chicken feed and discovers a gory corpse with his eyes gouged out. From then on, things go from bad to worse as bird attacks increase, both in scope and in violence. Terrified guests rush into the house as birds scratch, peck, and bite at them ravenously and without motive.

All of a sudden, a bird swoops down and switches Cathy on the ear, and an attack on the party commences. As time goes on, however, the sound of bird calls grows louder, and a shadowy cloud appears over the festivities. A peaceful flock of birds make their way across the clear blue sky as Melanie and Mitch walk along the beach. The next day, Cathy hosts a birthday party.

Opening the door, Melanie discovers a dead crow sprawled on the ground. After dinner, Melanie returns to Annie's house and the two chat about their past, when a thud is heard against the front door. There, his mother, Lydia (Jessica Tandy), argues with someone over the phone that the chicken feed she bought was defective—her chickens wouldn't eat a bite—only to learn that the vendor's own fowl, who had been given a different brand, had the same problem. She then returns to Annie's house, rents out a room for the weekend, and heads over to Mitch's house for dinner.

Cleaning up her wounds, Melanie gives Mitch the alibi that Annie was an old friend of hers and she wanted to pay a visit. On the way back, however, a seagull inexplicably swoops down and claws her. Then, she travels out by boat and stealthily enters Mitch's house, placing the present in the living room. When she arrives at the town of Bodega Bay, she seeks out Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette), the local teacher, in order to learn the name of Mitch's sister, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright).

Outside, a flock of pigeons menacingly circle the sky. When Mitch reveals after the incident that he knows her as Melanie Daniels, the daughter of a newspaper magnate, and tells her off for being a spoiled prankster, she decides to pay a visit to his house to get back at him and give his sister the lovebirds that he couldn't obtain. She pretends to be the shopkeeper, showing him various species of birds, until she accidentally lets out a canary. There, she meets Mitch (Taylor), a lawyer that is looking for two lovebirds for his little sister.

A young lady (Hedren) visits a bird shop on a Friday afternoon.
. It may be noted that in Du Maurier's story, the birds attack Britain instead of California. In the film, various kinds of birds attack Bodega Bay, California, a seaside village.

This film is notable in that it has no music score per se (other than brief source music); instead a montage of assorted bird calls and sound effects put together by perennial Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann provides the "incidental music". The screenplay for The Birds was written by Evan Hunter, better known as crime fiction novelist Ed McBain. (Hitchcock also adapted Du Maurier's novel Rebecca into an acclaimed film) about birds mobbing humans. The Birds (1963) is a horror film by Alfred Hitchcock, based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier.

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