The Birds (1963)
Daphne Du Maurier (story), Evan Hunter (screenplay)
Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner
Jessica Tandy as Lydia Brenner
Tippi Hedron as Melanie Daniels
By Dr. Chills
I couldn’t help but reflect on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds while enjoying the local lake this summer. I swear to you. Every time I entered the water, those damn little fish began to bite me. They were just joyfully nibbling of my soft brown skin. It’s like all of a sudden they said to themselves, who needs algae, bugs and bread when we can nibble on Dr. Chills. One thing I know for sure. They were not this bitey last summer. Something was going on with the fish and I immediately thought of The Birds. Birds Birds everywhere and none of them do what they are supposed to; chirping sweetly, preening and pruning, building nests, etc… The best horror movies are those that bend reality justly subtly enough to be believable. And who couldn’t believe that those beady eyed little monsters that we see every day who sing so sweetly, would someday – one day flip the script and wreak bloody havoc on the unsuspecting ornithologist and citizen alike.
The Birds is a horror classic and a beautiful example of how a brilliant filmmaker and director like Alfred Hitchcock could take the ordinary and turn it into an extraordinarily horrifying experience. Our story opens up with the sassy Melanie Daniels (Tippy Hedron) in an interaction with the dashing Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner. The two are in a pet store and Brenner is looking to buy two love birds for his niece. This first interaction provides us a glimpse of things to come.
Tipp follows her beau to a coastal town in Northern California in an effort to create an accidental rendezvous. While traveling by small power boat to the dock of his house and attempting to sneak up on her new love interest, Tippy is summarily attacked by a seagull. And boy was her hair messed up. That gull just swooped down and pecked at her head. The town’s people tried to dismiss the increasing incidences of rather odd behavior by the local fowl despite the fact that the reports were coming in increasing quantities. “Oh – It’s just the weather” “Oh – It’s just global warming – It’ll pass” Well something did come to pass, but it wasn’t all fun and feathers. It was more like what that crazy lady in the diner talked about in a frenzy – “The world is coming to an end.”
Right in the midst of an intellectual debate about whether the feathered creatures’ outrageous behavior is truly a serious threat they start going nuts. Smashing into windows, starting fires, pecking people’s eye’s out, etc… People start running for cover, boarding up windows and doors and hunkering down.
The thing that makes The Birds so scary is the fact that they are plotting, planning, biding time and attacking like packs of wolves. Another thing about this film, and birds in general, is the fact that at any given time, if collective conscious should decide that humans are a nuisance and no longer tolerable, they could very well peck our lives away and there would be nothing we could do about it. There are approximately 6.7 billion humans on earth right now comapred to nearly 6 billion feathered “friends” in the United States alone. The total world bird population is in the hundreds of billions. The odds are not in our favor.
Face it folks. We’re living on borrowed time, subject to the whim and mercy of our fine, feathered, fowl friends. Or should I say foul friends. And as evidenced by the end of Hitchcock’s film, the terror did not go away; it just subsided for a moment. Until a day unknown – A day like today – A day when fish of the sea and birds of the air decide – enough is enough.