top of page
  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Birds 1963 Reviewed

Updated: May 11

Featured Image For The Birds 1963 Reviewed.  Vintage poster for Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' featuring a woman screaming in terror as birds attack, with Hitchcock's profile and quote.
In Hitchcock's sky, every wingbeat heralds a scream, and the sky itself becomes a cage of terror.

The first time you see Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds," something shivers deep in your bones. Maybe it's the way the ordinary turns menacing – the flutter of wings against a spotless sky, a child's birthday party gone to hell, a lone figure walking along a desolate road. Or maybe it's the chill of the unknown; because there's no clear reason why those birds suddenly begin to attack people. That's Hitchcock for you – the master of suspense doesn't need to give you all the answers, just the perfect dose of unease to have you analyzing your moves for days after.

The Birds Key Takeaways

  • The unpredictable power of nature: The seemingly random and inexplicable bird attacks shatter any illusion of human control over the natural world. The film highlights the vulnerability of our constructed environments and social orders when faced with nature's untamed forces.

  • Environmental anxieties: While never explicitly stated, "The Birds" can be seen as an allegory for environmental anxieties. The bird attacks act as a potent symbol of potential repercussions when the balance of nature is disturbed.

  • The fragility of complacency: The characters are initially dismissive of early warning signs, reflecting our own tendencies to ignore or downplay potential dangers. The film serves as a stark reminder that complacency can have dire consequences.

  • The claustrophobia of chaos: Hitchcock masterfully creates a sense of escalating dread and entrapment. What starts as isolated incidents builds into overwhelming chaos, leaving the characters (and the audience) feeling besieged and vulnerable.

  • Unanswered questions and lingering dread: Hitchcock deliberately leaves the cause of the bird attacks ambiguous. This open-endedness forces the audience to confront their own anxieties about the unknown, leading to a fear that lingers long after the film ends.

  • Human relationships under pressure: The extreme circumstances test the bonds between characters. Melanie and Mitch's budding romance is challenged, while Mitch's relationship with his mother becomes more fraught. The film reveals how crisis can either bring people together or expose underlying tensions.

  • The symbolism of birds: Throughout history, birds hold both positive and negative symbolic meanings. The film twists our typical associations of birds as harmless or even beautiful beings, turning them into menacing harbingers of chaos and destruction.

A woman clutches her sides in fear, her eyes wide with terror, as she watches the suspenseful 'The Birds' from 1963
Under the shadow of wings, her fear takes flight, as 'The Birds' turn the sky into an arena of dread.

Hitchcock weaves his tale around the effortlessly elegant Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren in her screen debut), a San Francisco socialite who follows a handsome lawyer, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), to his small California town. It starts with playful mischief; a prank in a pet store, a pair of caged lovebirds as a gift. But then, like some ominous echo, the birds flock, they gather, they attack.

It's Hitchcock at his best: the slow burn of tension, the way he makes the everyday feel ominous. A crow perched on a jungle gym is transformed into a harbinger of doom. A single seagull dive-bombing a man becomes a scene of pure terror. And then, the onslaught – the diner whipped into frenzied chaos, the birds almost breaking through boarded windows, the sheer claustrophobic horror of it all.

Alongside the scares, Hitchcock threads in a tangled romance between Mitch and Melanie. There's a darkness there too, shades of control and obsession that mirror the relentless assault of the birds. We see Melanie caught between a man whose world is turning inside out, and his overbearing mother, Lydia (a superbly icy Jessica Tandy). Hedren brings vulnerability and defiance to Melanie, while Taylor captures the unraveling of a man who thought he had everything figured out.

A boy sits with wide, fearful eyes, clutching his seat as he watches the avian terror unfold in Hitchcock's 'The Birds' from 1963
Even the bravest hearts flutter with fear as the feathered fiends of 'The Birds' take flight into the stormy night.

Every Fan Of Hitchcock Needs To Watch The Birds

Based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier, Hitchcock expands on the idea, giving it his signature cinematic edge. The technical aspects may be dated by today's standards, but that's part of the charm. Those painted backdrops and the raw, almost brutal special effects amp up the creepiness factor. And of course, the absence of a traditional score is its own kind of weapon, the unnerving quiet punctuated by the chilling cries of the birds.

It's a film that invites endless interpretation. An environmental warning? A study in hubris brought low? Hitchcock, ever the enigma, never gives us a tidy explanation. That's what keeps "The Birds" hovering in your memory long after the credits roll. You walk outside, glance at the sky, and wonder – what if nature wasn't playing nice?

The power of "The Birds" isn't in the jump scares or the gore (although there are some truly horrifying moments). It's the sense of creeping dread, the way it burrows under your skin. It's Hitchcock, as always, reminding us that terror can take any form, even that of a feathered friend. And if you're like me, a Hitchcock fan who loves dissecting the master's work, "The Birds" will give you plenty to ponder, long after the final feather falls.

With "The Birds," Hitchcock offers a haunting portrait of a world out of balance, a world where nature turns on its human inhabitants with terrifying force. It's a film that stays with you, both for its iconic imagery and its chilling unanswered questions. While its style may feel dated to some, what hasn't aged is its core message about the fragility of our control over the natural world. In that sense, "The Birds" remains as urgently relevant and downright scary as ever.

And that is The Birds 1963 Reviewed. Another great classic horror movie

Stay tuned for more great horror movie reviews

If You Liked The Invisible Man You Might Also Like These Films.

  • Hollow Man (2000): A brilliant but arrogant scientist (Kevin Bacon) develops a serum that turns him invisible. Initially thrilled by his newfound power, he descends into madness, using his invisibility to inflict violence and terror. Like "The Invisible Man," this film explores the corrupting potential of unchecked power and the danger that lurks unseen.

  • Get Out (2017): This critically acclaimed horror film follows a young Black man (Daniel Kaluuya) who visits his white girlfriend's family estate, only to uncover a sinister and disturbing truth. While not focused on invisibility, "Get Out" shares a similar sense of escalating dread, the feeling of being trapped in a situation where the threat is hidden beneath a veneer of civility, and social commentary woven into the horror.

  • Gaslight (1944): The term 'gaslighting' originates from this classic thriller. It follows a woman (Ingrid Bergman) whose husband (Charles Boyer) manipulates her into questioning her own sanity, leading her to doubt her perceptions and memories. This film shares the psychological manipulation and paranoia at the core of "The Invisible Man," with an antagonist who preys on the vulnerability of his victim.

  • The Sixth Sense (1999): This supernatural thriller stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist who helps a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who claims to see dead people. Similar to "The Invisible Man," the film plays with the idea of unseen forces, the questioning of reality, and a slow-burn reveal that recontextualizes what the audience has seen.

  • Sleeping with the Enemy (1991): Julia Roberts plays a woman who meticulously fakes her own death to escape an abusive husband. Despite her escape, she lives in constant fear, haunted by the threat of him discovering her secret. This film shares themes of a relentless, unseen danger, the psychological toll of abuse, and a protagonist fighting to reclaim control of her life.

The Birds 1963 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is "The Birds" about?

A: "The Birds" is a 1963 horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based loosely on a short story by Daphne du Maurier. It follows a wealthy socialite, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), who pursues a potential romance with lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) to the small coastal town of Bodega Bay, California. Suddenly, birds of all types begin exhibiting strange and increasingly violent behavior, launching unprovoked attacks on the townspeople. As the attacks escalate in intensity and frequency, the film becomes a terrifying struggle for survival against an inexplicable force of nature.

Q: Who are some of the main actors in "The Birds"?

A: Some of the main actors in the film include:

  • Tippi Hedren: In her debut role, Hedren plays Melanie Daniels, the glamorous but flawed socialite who becomes the center of the bird attacks.

  • Rod Taylor: Taylor portrays Mitch Brenner, the small-town lawyer who must protect both Melanie and his family when the world turns against them.

  • Jessica Tandy: Tandy plays Lydia Brenner, Mitch's possessive and emotionally manipulative mother.

  • Suzanne Pleshette: Pleshette portrays Annie Hayworth, a local schoolteacher and Mitch's former love interest.

  • Veronica Cartwright: As a young girl, Cartwright plays Cathy Brenner, Mitch's younger sister who experiences firsthand the horrors of the escalating attacks.

Q: Why is "The Birds" considered a thriller?

A: "The Birds" is considered a thriller because of its masterfully crafted suspense, shocking scenes of violence, and the overwhelming sense of dread it instills. Hitchcock uses several of his trademark techniques to ratchet up the tension:

  • Slow Burn: The tension builds gradually, from isolated incidents to all-out avian assault.

  • Unanswered Questions: The reason for the birds' behavior is never explained, amplifying the fear of the unknown.

  • Attacks on the Ordinary: The horror is heightened because birds attack in familiar spaces – a children's party, a gas station, an ordinary school day – making the danger feel inescapable.

Q: Where does the story of "The Birds" take place?

A: The story is set in Bodega Bay, a small coastal town in Northern California. The film was also shot on location in Bodega Bay, adding to its authenticity and sense of isolation.

Q: What is the significance of the birds attacking in the film?

A: The attacking birds serve as a powerful symbol with multiple potential interpretations:

  • Nature's Retaliation: One reading is as an environmental warning, a possible consequence of unchecked human interference with nature.

  • The Breakdown of Society: The attacks expose the fragility of social order and how quickly civility can crumble under extreme pressure.

  • Psychological Horror: Some interpretations focus on the birds as a manifestation of repressed anxieties or trauma, particularly those connected to Melanie's character.

Q: How does "The Birds" compare to other Hitchcock films?

A: "The Birds" stands out among Hitchcock's filmography due to:

  • Supernatural Element: It's one of his few films with an overtly fantastical premise, unlike his more grounded thrillers like "Psycho" or "Vertigo."

  • Ambiguous Ending: Hitchcock leaves the film unresolved, offering no neat explanation for the events, departing from his usual style.

  • Technical Innovation: The film was groundbreaking in its special effects, blending real birds with animatronics and optical effects that were advanced for the era.

Q: What is the reception of "The Birds" among audiences?

A: "The Birds" is considered a classic in the horror genre and one of Hitchcock's most iconic films. It is praised for:

  • Unforgettable Suspense: The film's escalating tension and scenes of avian terror have seared themselves into the public consciousness.

  • Technical Achievement: While some effects may seem dated now, the film was hailed for its technical prowess at the time of its release.

  • Enduring Legacy: It continues to be analyzed, debated, and referenced in popular culture, proving its lasting impact.


bottom of page