The Birds (film, 1963)

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The Birds is a horror film by Alfred Hitchcock directed in 1963. It starred Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor as two Californians from San Francisco who are trapped in the small seaside town of Bodega Bay by a flock of homicidal crows and gulls. The theme of the movie is "man against nature".

Tippi Hedren plays a woman named Melanie Daniels, who likes to play practical jokes and has recently been brought to court for one of her pranks. There she meets Rod Taylor's character, Mitch Brenner, who fools her into buying him a pair of lovebirds. She brings the birds in a cage by boat to Brenner's house in Bodega Bay. There, Melanie meets Mitch's mother (Jessica Tandy) and his little sister (Veronica Cartwright).

What none of them know is that the birds have followed Melanie from San Francisco to Bodega Bay. They only discover this when a flock of crows attacks the one-room schoolhouse where Mitch's sister is singing. Tippi and Rod manage to let the children escape, but nobody in town will believe Tippi when she calls her father on the telephone to report what's happening. One old lady who watches birds for a living tiresomely explains to Tippi that birds simply don't behave that way, and so it's impossible for birds to attack other living things. But her explanation is cut short when the birds return, knocking down a man who is filling his tank at the gas station across the street. The gas flows down the street to where a tourist is lighting his cigar; then it explodes. The heat and light draw more seagulls to the gas station, and the gulls trap Tippi in a phone booth. Finally they fly away.

Melanie and Mitch return to the Brenner house, and Mitch boards up all the windows so the birds can't get in. They spend the night there, waking with fear. In the middle of the night, Tippi goes up to the attic because she thought she heard a noise, but it was a trap set by some birds who had been in the attic all along. She is badly beaten, and saved only by Rod's coming upstairs at the right moment to save her. After this episode, they know they have to get out of Bodega Bay. Rod tiptoes outside — the ground and house being now covered with roosting birds — and brings the car. The family gets in and drives away, under the watchful eyes of the million birds of Bodega Bay. The memorable final shot shows the car leaving the farm, of which the road is also covered in birds. Hitchcock leaves the ending deliberately ambiguous, leaving the audience to wonder whether Tippi and Rod will survive in a birds' world or not.

Awards

Hitchcock's film was nominated for an Oscar in Special effects, but unaccountably lost out to Cleopatra, released the same year. However, Tippi Hedren did win a Golden Globe for "Best New Actress of 1963".

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