Melanie Daniels is the modern rich socialite, part of the jet-set who always gets what she wants. When lawyer Mitch Brenner sees her in a pet shop, he plays something of a practical joke on her, and she decides to return the favor. She drives about an hour north of San Francisco to Bodega Bay, where Mitch spends the weekends with his mother Lydia and younger sister Cathy. Soon after her arrival, however, the birds in the area begin to act strangely. A seagull attacks Melanie as she is crossing the bay in a small boat, and then, Lydia finds her neighbor dead, obviously the victim of a bird attack. Soon, birds in the hundreds and thousands are attacking anyone they find out of doors. There is no explanation as to why this might be happening, and as the birds continue their vicious attacks, survival becomes the priority.Written by
The audio special effects included the use of spring and plate reverb units, as well as an Echoplex - an endless loop tape recorder with a fixed record head and a playback head that slides on a rail. This arrangement of record and playback heads creates an echo that can be time-adjusted. By turning up the record volume you can create an echo that repeats endlessly. Typically this would only be used for limited lengths of time because the hiss from the magnetic tape would build up to the point of creating a whirling wind-like sound. In order to create the density of bird sounds without amplifying the wind effect, they used a separate recorder and many takes from the Echoplex, layering the result while adding other types of bird sounds to produce the final result. There are a few moments at the end of an attack that the bird sounds drop in pitch and speed. This is created by sliding the playback head away from the record head. In some rock recordings in the 1970s this was used for UFO sounds. See more »
As Melanie is in the boat crossing the bay, the reflection of the overhead lights can be seen on the casing of the outboard motor. See more »
("I married my wife in the month of June")
Derived from the traditional Scottish folk song "The Wee Cooper o'Fife"
Additional lyrics by Evan Hunter
Sung by the schoolchildren See more »
I am not an appreciator of Hitchcock, at least not recently as I wade though reviewings of his work.
But this film is different. Many of his films dance on the edge of the surreal, and deal with a person or people swept up in events beyond their control. But here he tips well into another world and does it so artfully that we don't notice. I recall the film being touted as a horror film when first released, but it is not so. Horror depends on reality -- the more likely, the more threatening. Terror is another thing.
What is so skillful here is that no one behaves as people normally would, not even close. Yet no one remarks on that fact. Such a notice would be automatic in today's infatuation with irony and self-reference. So what makes this film so intriguing is that it is entirely without irony, non-modern even in the sense common in the 60's. This effect is amplified by the `studio' style of camera-work: stationary cameras and flat sets. Essentially all dialog is indoors.
Further: huge mysteries remain at the end of the film, about the cause of the supernatural, about the Oedipal characters, and of course about what happens next. World, people, story are all left open. How intelligent.
A side remark: once again in a Hitchcock film, minor actors outshine the main characters. But no matter. The effects, as with the sets, are cheesy, but rather than detracting, this adds to the unsettling unreality of the work.
This film is pretty disturbing all around.
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