Birds have been known to swoop down on cats, and even people, if they consider them a threat to their nests. I have been a witness to such curious behavior. There have been times when I have observed a little bird menacing another bigger bird for some reason unknown to me, but to attack a human without provocation, that would be out of character in the world of birds. On one occasion, I was dive bombed by some seagulls while eating at Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, but the birds were more interested in the food I was holding than taking out some anonymous vendetta against me. The family owned parakeets when I was just a toddler. I don't particularly recall any malevolent behavior on their part. Although, when it sat on my shoulder, it would peck my ear. It was somewhat bossy at times. Always told me to take out the garbage. Should I have been concerned?
|The schoolhouse today|
As the movie progressed the attacks from our fine feathered friends become more frequent and vicious. If you dare to watch the movie at some point in time you may want to close your eyes when Mitch's mother visits a neighbor friend. It isn't a pretty sight. Then there was the scene after the crows attacked the children as they left the schoolhouse. Mitch finds the school teacher(played by Suzanne Pleshette) laying on the ground outside her home. Let's just say the birds have a thing about eyes.
They seemed to defy the idea that birds of a feather flock together only. These were no mere random acts or isolated incidents. Their manuevers gave the appearance of being coordinated with one prime objective, punish man. The movie doesn't come right out and say that, Hitchcock leaves that up to us to figure out. At the climax of the movie, when Mitch and his family along with Melanie are forced to leave their battered home, one of the birds takes a parting shot with a peck to Mitch's hand as if to say, "It isn't over. It's only the beginning."
|Scene from movie inside Tides Wharf Restaurant|
Thus was the premace of Hitchcock's first horror/fantasy film that scared audiences back in the early sixties. Bodega Bay was the setting he chose. It is a real place just north of San Francisco in the Sonoma Coast region. Hitchcock chose it because of its foggy weather and skyline, which at that time was subdued and open. It has been about fifty years since the movies release and the Visitor Center in Bodega Bay receives thousands of Hitchcock fans every year.
You can visit the Tides Wharf Restaurant, it is a real place also, although it has been remodeled several times since and has expanded into a complex including an inn. The ranch and the dock where Mitch lived all burned down in the late 60's. The old Potter schoolhouse is the only original building used in the movie that stands to this day and you won't find it in Bodega Bay. It is located some six miles inland in the town of Bodega. The schoolhouse was an abandoned building when it was first discovered by Hitchcock and rebuilt for the movie. Years later, it became a bed and breakfast, but now is a private residence. You can take pictures of it, but no longer able to tour it. You could politely ask the present owner, but the response may not be as polite. I read that in a review. The school teacher's house next to the schoolhouse was only a facade built for the movie.
|Some suspicous looking gulls in Charleston, SC|
I was just a young man entering my teens in 1963 when "The Birds" made its debut. The movie has since been a favorite. My mother owned a copy on VHS, along with other Hitchcock classics, which were part of a collection. It came up missing quite frequently, but everyone in the house knew where it likely disappeared to. Hitchcock's spellbinding masterpiece has had an effect on my psyche. Whenever I see birds massing together I wonder, "Could this be it." There is a passage from the book of Revelation in the Bible that speaks of the birds being called to a great evening meal of God where they will eat the flesh of men. I wonder if Alfred had this text in mind when he was first inspired to write the script and storyboards?
One last parting thought. The ending we have become accustomed to seeing in the movie was not part the original script. The ending that was supposed to be was scraped due to costs. Picture in your mind the great Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco covered with birds. "It's the end of the world."