The Birds
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Birds can be found here

As a practical joke, wild and carefree newspaper heiress Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) buys and delivers a pair of lovebirds to Cathy Brenner (Veronica Cartwright), the sister of Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), a San Francisco lawyer she met while playing another practical joke in a pet store. Soon after Melanie arrives at the Brenners' home in Bodega Bay, birds of various species begin banding together and attacking humans for no discernable reason.

The Birds is based on a short story of the same name by British author Daphne du Maurier [1907-1989]. It was first published in 1952 in a collection of short stories titled The Apple Tree and republished under the name The Birds and Other Stories (1963). The short story was adapted for the movie by American author and screenwriter Evan Hunter.

Yes. When Melanie enters the Davidson's Pet Shop about two minutes into the film, Hitchcock can be seen leaving it. The two white dogs on leashes are his own Sealyham terriers, Geoffrey and Stanley. A photo of the scene can be seen here.

It was a gift to her Aunt Tessa.

Mitch, being a lawyer, tells her that he saw her once in court. (This occurs about 6 or 7 minutes into the movie).

As Mitch drives away from the bird shop, she writes down his license number, WJH 003, and then asks a friend of hers at her daddy's newspaper to contact the DMV to get ownership information. Unfortunately, Mitch has left to spend the weekend with his mother and sister in Bodega Bay, so Melanie has to go to Bodega Bay and ask for directions there at the post office.

Bodega Bay is about 60 miles north of San Francisco. A map of its location can be seen here.

It was an Aston Martin DB2/4 drop-head coupe. One in a batch of only 102 cars made in its two-year model run, between 1953 and 1955. See photos here and here.

Lydia (Jessica Tandy) didn't hate them, but her husband died four years earlier, and she felt fearful that, should Mitch marry, she would be left alone.

There is no explanation. Hitchcock himself answered that question by saying, "If you provide an explanation for the phenomenon then the film becomes science fiction; we're not making science fiction, Birds is a thriller, hence we leave out any explanation." The fact that it is never revealed to the audience why normally peaceful birds suddenly start attacking humans is a technique that Hitchcock used frequently in his movies. It is called a MacGuffin (or McGuffin), which Hitchcock defines as "The plot device, of little intrinsic interest, such as lost or stolen papers, that triggers the action." (Quotation from Halliwell's Filmgoers Companion). Just as the audience never finds out what is written on the stolen papers or what the secret formula is for, the audience is never told why the birds started attacking. Some suggestions in the movie are that the birds are massing to migrate, that they have lost their way in the fog or the dark, that they are panicking, that they are being fed bad chicken feed, that the children have bothered them, or that they are attracted to light.

This is another of those things that Hitchcock chose not to explain to the audience. As the plot develops, Melanie certainly seems to be the lightning rod for the attacks. However, there was mention of birds attacking in other places unrelated to Melanie's presence, such as the gulls attacking the fisherman, the attack on chicken farmer Ned Fawcett, and flocks of birds attacking people miles away in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

How does the movie end?

Melanie hears some noises in the attic and goes up to check it out. As she opens the door and steps in the room, birds come flying at her from all sides. The attack is so forceful that she can't reopen the door in order to get out. Mitch is finally able to get the door open and pull Melanie from the room, but her head is bleeding from places where the birds have pecked her, and she appears to be in a daze. It's decided that they must get her to a hospital, but their yard is a sea of birds. Slowly and quietly, the four of them -- Mitch, Melanie, Lydia, and Cathy -- wind their way through the birds, afraid that the birds will start attacking again. At the last minute, Cathy asks whether she can bring the lovebirds with them, and Mitch consents. They make it to the car, Cathy and Lydia cradling Melanie in the back seat and Mitch and the lovebirds in the front. Trying to be as nonthreatening as possible, Mitch slowly drives out of the yard and heads up the road. On the radio, an announcer can be heard talking about bird attacks in other towns along the California coast. In the final scene, their car makes it down the coastal road towards San Francisco. The birds do not attack again.

It is said that Hitchcock wanted to end the movie with the car arriving in San Francisco, only to find the Golden Gate Bridge covered with birds, giving the foreboding impression that the attacks were not over. However, due to the logistics of filming such a scene, it was never shot. In another ending that was written but never shot, the car slowly drives through Bodega Bay, and the group sees people who have fallen victim to the birds. The birds do not attack, however, until Mitch sees a clear stretch of road ahead and accelerates. The birds then begin to attack the car, but they manage to make it out of the Bay.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 11 months ago
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