when was the birds written

Topics for Further Study

  • As Camille Paglia pointed out in her critical review of the movie, Alfred Hitchcock drew inspiration for his film adaptation of “The Birds” from two distinct incidents in California where large flocks of gulls broke into houses and smashed into car windows. Look up these incidents as well as any other recorded bird attack incidents that you may find. How plausible is it to explain the behavior of the birds? How realistic are the attacks in the story in comparison to the actual incidents?
  • Hitchcock drastically altered the storyline in his film adaptation, but he kept the story’s tension. How would one go about filming a more accurate version of the story? Do you think a successful film version could be made that would retain most of the plot elements?
  • The British were not subjected to the bombing raids that Americans experienced during World War II at home. Research the psychological effect these raids had on the population.
  • In the narrative, the government is unable to manage or eradicate the birds. Examine whether there was anything the authorities could have done to prevent the attacks or at least shield the victims.

Determined to keep his daughter safe, he dashes to her bus stop as he spots a flock of gulls flying inland. He leaves her in his neighbor’s car and walks back to his house. As he gets closer to his door, a swarm of birds attacks him viciously once more.

Nat also attends to his children’s emotional needs. He attempts to allay their fears throughout the narrative by drawing their focus away from their avian attackers. He points them toward the customs of everyday family life and urges his wife to make their favorite sweets. He barricades his family downstairs when the birds start to break into the upstairs bedrooms, tempting them with the prospect of an exciting campout in the kitchen.

Some academics, most notably Margaret Forster in her well-researched biography of du Maurier, attribute Nat and his wife’s stereotypical gender roles during the family’s struggle for survival to the author’s unclear sexuality. Nat is the one who looks out for the family’s safety while his wife—whom du Maurier never gives a name to—mostly cowers in the background with her kids. Mrs. While Hocken does provide for the kids by cleaning Johnny’s wound and preparing their meals, she frequently exudes the same fear that they do. After an attack has passed, Nat decides to leave the house to get fuel and food, but his wife is so terrified that she won’t stay with the kids. When Nat visits the Triggs’ farmhouse, he has to tell her to stay back, which further emphasizes the image of her weakness and subservience. She tries to follow at first, but Nat’s sternness makes her turn back to her kids.

Du Maurier reinforces a sense of menace with the setting. Her descriptions of the elements and weather imply that these forces are collaborating with the birds. The night before the first attack, Nat notices the sudden change in the weather, which he describes as “unnatural” and “queer.” As the wind seems to “cut him to the bone,” just as the birds intend to do, he declares that he has “never known such cold.”

The wind and the sea seem sympathetic to the birds, almost as if they are taking part in the assaults. According to Nat, “the birds followed a certain law that had to do with the tide and the east wind.” The tides determine when the gulls attack because they “ride the seas” before landing. The wind carries the birds’ shattered corpses away after they dive-bomb the Hocken family home.

The story’s constant sense of terror is brought on by the birds’ relentless threat. When the birds invade the kids’ room on the first night of the attacks, the mood is swiftly established. Nat is terrified of the incident, but he is more afraid for his family’s survival than for himself. When every line of support is cut off, the level of terror increases. At first, the family believes they will be able to get assistance from the government and their neighbors. However, they gradually realize they are alone after the radio goes out and they hear distant planes crash. This realization is furthered when they discover their neighbors’ dead bodies. When the family gathers in the kitchen at the end of the story, listening to the sounds of the birds breaking the wooden barricades, turning on the wireless to hear nothing but silence, and realizing they are all alone, the atmosphere of terror reaches its peak.

The “cold war,” which started soon after World War II when Russian leader Joseph Stalin established satellite communist states in Eastern Europe and Asia, was brought on by a number of factors, including the rise of the USSR and the US as superpowers, each nation’s ability to use the atomic bomb, and the struggle between communist expansion and efforts to contain it. Nuclear weapons that could destroy not just every nation on Earth but also the entire planet were accumulated by both sides. Declaring each other the enemy, they intensified their resolve to fight for control over politics and the economy as well as their own ideologies.

With the Soviet Union crushing the Hungarian revolution in 1956 and China succumbing to communism in 1949, the United States established itself as a kind of global police force, hastening the Cold War. The United States decided in 1950 to support South Korea in fending off communist forces in North Korea. 33,629 American soldiers had lost their lives in the Korean War by 1953.

Fearing Russian annihilation and the spread of communism, Europeans and Americans experienced anxiety during the Cold War. People were urged to paint a picture of all Russians as mindless atheists and barbarians who were planning to topple their governments and brainwash their people. Anxiety over the possibility of communism gaining ground in the US caused mistrust and paranoia. Many suspected communists or communist sympathizers saw their lives ruined.

After former government officials Alger Hiss (1950) and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (1951) were charged with passing

  • 1950s: Americans and Europeans build air raid shelters and practice emergency drills out of fear of a nuclear attack by Russia. Today: The Cold War ended with the fall of communism in the USSR, but the threat of terrorism still causes a great deal of fear in America.
  • 1950s: Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy holds hearings from 1950 to 1954 with the goal of identifying communist infiltration of American academia and government. Due to his carelessness, the U S. Senate in 1954. These days, racial profiling is being explored as a means of assisting in the fight against terrorism.
  • 1950s: To support the South Korean government in its war against communist North Korea, the United States sends troops there. Today: America is engaged in a war against terrorism. In 2002, that war centers on Afghanistan as U. S. troops, aided by the British, overthrow the Taliban.

defense secrets to the Russians. Soon, under the direction of Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the nation would be involved in a fervent and frequently irrational witch-hunt for communists. (In 1954, McCarthy’s unethical actions during Committee sessions resulted in a Senate censure.) Almost six million Americans had been the subject of government investigations due to suspicions of having communist sympathies by the time of McCarthy’s death in 1957, but very few had resulted in formal charges.

Schoolchildren were scared and the climate of mistrust and paranoia increased as a result of Americans and Europeans building bomb shelters and practicing air raids in reaction to the threat of a cold war.

For the past 200 years, horror stories have played a significant role in both American and British literature, and they have a strong connection to gothic novels. Horror stories often deal with themes like torture, madness, murder, and suicide. The tales may feature demons, vampires, and ghosts along with voodoo, witchcraft, and exorcism techniques.

The main plot of the horror novel is to put the bravery and tenacity of the main characters to the test as they encounter both physical and psychological peril. Their emotional turmoil may be the source of the terror that consumes them, driving them to the brink of insanity and barbarism. These tales demonstrate the effort to comprehend innate, primal desires and anxieties in relation to ideas of evil, death, and punishment.

Classical literature contains elements of the macabre as early as Virgil’s Aeneid and Lucan’s Pharsalia, as well as Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedies, Gothic novels, and short stories from the nineteenth century. Early tales in this genre concentrated on the secular “hell” of asylums and prisons, as well as the horrors of eternal damnation as described by different religious doctrines. Horror stories from the 20th century explored both the dark corners of the mind and punishment. Notable authors in this genre include E. T. A. Edgar Allan Poe (“The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat”), Henry James (“The Turn of the Screw”), Ambrose Bierce (“The Man and the Snake” and “A Watcher by the Dead”), Hoffman (“Die Elixiere des Teufels” and “Ignaz Denner”), and modern author Stephen King

Du Maurier was a well-known commercial success by the time her collection of short stories, The Apple Tree: A Short Novel and Some Stories (1952), was released in America under the titles Kiss Me Again, Stranger (1953) and The Birds, and Other Stories (1963). Scholars did not pay much attention to du Maurier because they thought her writing was “too readable to be literary,” as Nina Auerbach points out in her piece on the author for British Writers. But when The Apple Tree: A Short Novel and Some Stories, which featured her excellent short story “The Birds,” was published in 1952, both the public and critics praised her. Following the release of Margaret Forster’s biography in 1993 and the reprinting of Not After Midnight, and Other Stories in 1971 as Don’t Look Now, the author’s literary reputation grew to the point where many academics now agree with Auerbach’s assessment of her as “an author of extraordinary range and frequent brilliance.” ”.

The New York Herald Tribune Book Review’s Sylvia Berkman praised “The Birds” in Kiss Me Again, Stranger, noting that du Maurier builds up her terrifying account of the birds’ attacks “with intensifying accurate detail.” The story’s allusions to the Cold War, however, according to Berkman, “dissipate the full impact of a stark and terrifying tale.” ”.

John Barkham observes in his piece for The New York Times Book Review that du Maurier takes pleasure in confounding her audience with “her mysteries.” ” Barkham calls “The Birds” “a masterpiece of horror. Richard Kelly asserts that the tale, Rebecca, and Don’t Look Now “stand out among her works as landmarks in the development of the modern gothic tale” in his overview of du Maurier for the Reference Guide to English Literature. ”.

Perkins has authored multiple essays on American and British authors and teaches American literature and film. In the essay that follows, Perkins contrasts Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation of The Birds by Gabriel du Maurier.

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was released by Universal Pictures in 1963 to great public and critical acclaim. The screenplay by Evan Hunter was a loose adaptation of the short story by Daphne du Maurier. It moved the setting from the Cornish coast of England to the seaside town of Bodega Bay and altered the main theme. The bird attacks in du Maurier’s story, along with the characters’ reactions to them, serve as a political commentary on the paranoid climate that pervaded both Europe and America in the 1950s and 1960s during the Cold War. This current theme was dropped in Hitchcock’s adaptation in favor of a portrayal of the protagonist’s psychosexual power struggle, which is intensified and redirected by the bird attacks. Nonetheless, the narrative and the movie present compelling images of people defenseless against nature’s more sinister forces.

Sylvia Berkman criticizes du Maurier’s novel Kiss Me Again, Stranger for being “marred by unresolved duality of intent” in her review for the New York Herald Tribune Book Review. The author’s “turning of this material also into a political fable, with the overt references to control from Russia and aid from America,” she insists, dissipates the full impact of a stark and terrifying tale. Berkman, however, neglects to mention that du Maurier heightens the story’s sense of loneliness and doom by setting it against the backdrop of the Cold War. The characters’ fears of total and inevitable destruction are heightened by the bird attacks, which are used as an analogy for nuclear destruction.

After the first bird attack, Nat goes to the Triggs’ farm to see if anyone else there has had a similar experience. This is how Du Maurier starts her political framework. The Triggs and Jim, their hired help, observe that they have not been attacked and believe Nat’s account to be either a nightmare or an exaggeration. Their failure to detect approaching danger from the air brings to Nat’s mind the air raids that England experienced during World War II, which he had also experienced. Many people were killed by German bombs because they disregarded the air raid sirens, neglected to take the necessary safety precautions, and did not seek shelter. Another allusion to the bombing campaign is made by Du Maurier when Nat remarks later that his family’s experience is similar to being in an air raid shelter as they gather in the kitchen during another attack. The narrator suggests that some of the birds become suicide bombers during their attacks, evoking memories of Japanese kamikaze fighters during World War II, which heightens the threat.

Nat’s fear is heightened by the political climate of the present and his recollections of his experiences during World War II as a new threat appears out of nowhere. In the story, Cold War anxieties of a communist invasion surface when, after multiple

Plot edit

Melanie Daniels, a socialite, meets attorney Mitch Brenner at a San Francisco pet store in the early 1960s. Brenner wants to purchase lovebirds for his sister Cathy’s eleventh birthday. Mitch mistakes Melanie for a shop employee, but he recognizes her from her court appearance regarding a practical joke gone wrong. Mitch tests Melanies knowledge of birds, which she fails. He tells her that he knew her before and walks out without making a purchase. After learning that Mitch has spent the weekend at his family’s farm, Melanie, who is in love, purchases the lovebirds and makes her way to Bodega Bay. Melanie is told to find out Cathy’s name from Annie Hayworth, a teacher at Bodega. Mitch’s ex-lover Annie was driven out of their relationship by his controlling mother Lydia, who despises all women in Mitch’s life.

Melanie discreetly leaves the lovebirds at the Brenner farm by renting a boat and traveling across the bay. Mitch drives to meet Melanie at the dock after spotting her as she drives off. As Melanie approaches the wharf, a gull attacks her. Mitch tends to her head wound inside a diner. Lydia arrives and meets Melanie, whom Mitch invites to dinner. At the farm, Lydias hens are refusing to eat. Because of Melanie’s inflated reputation from tabloid gossip, Lydia doesn’t like her. Melanie, who is staying with Annie, receives an invitation from Mitch to Cathy’s birthday celebration the following day. Later, there is a thud at Annies front door. A dead gull is found at the threshold.

Melanie tells Mitch about her difficult past and her mother’s disappearance with another man when she was Cathy’s age at her party. During a game, the children are attacked by gulls. Later that evening, a swarm of sparrows invades the house through the chimney while Melanie eats dinner with the Brenners. Mitch demands that she stay the night instead of driving back to San Francisco. Lydia goes to her neighbor the following morning to talk about their chickens’ refusal to eat. She runs away in terror when she finds his eyeless corpse being pecked by birds. Lydia worries for Cathy’s safety while she recovers at home, so Melanie offers to pick her up from school. Melanie waits outside the schoolhouse while the jungle gym behind her is taken over by a swarm of crows. Anticipating an attack, she warns Annie. When they evacuate the pupils instead of keeping them safely inside the building, crows attack. Mitch finds Melanie at the diner. Mitch and the other men help an attendant at a gas station who is attacked by gulls outside. An uninformed bystander’s cigar fumes ignite the gasoline spill, resulting in an explosion. Melanie and the others flee the growing fire, but more gulls attack, so Melanie seeks safety in a phone booth. Mitch saves her, and they return to the diner. A shaken woman accuses Melanie of starting the attacks, saying her arrival marked the beginning of them. Mrs. Sitting in stunned silence is Bundy, the ornithologist who laughed at the reports of birds attacking.

Mitch and Melanie go to Annies house to fetch Cathy. They discover Annie’s corpse outside; the crows killed her as she was defending Cathy. They take a traumatized Cathy home. That evening, as Melanie and the Brenners fortify themselves inside the family home, birds attack, almost breaking through the boarded-up windows and doors. Melanie looks into a fluttering sound in the attic bedroom during a quiet moment. Melanie is attacked after learning that the birds have pecked their way through the roof, trapping her until Mitch pulls her out. In order to get Melanie, who is now hurt, traumatized, and catatonic, to a hospital, Mitch demands that they all travel to San Francisco. A sea of birds has gathered around the Brenner house while Mitch gets Melanie’s car ready for their getaway. Mitch quietly moves the car out. The military may step in after hearing about bird attacks on neighboring towns like Santa Rosa over the car radio. After Cathy gets her lovebirds—the only birds that are not aggressive—from the house, she goes to the car with Mitch and Lydia to accompany Melanie through a crowd of birds. The car slowly drives away as the birds watch.

Production edit

Hunter began working on the screenplay in September 1961. [12] Together with Hitchcock, he developed the plot, putting out ideas like the townspeople hiding a guilty secret and the birds serving as a means of retribution. [13] He proposed that the movie start off with a few screwball comedy-inspired elements before transforming into “stark terror.” [14][15][16] The author claims that Hitchcock was drawn to this because it fit his preference for suspense: the title and the publicity would have already alerted viewers to the impending attack by birds, but they are unsure of when. First humor, then horror, would turn the tension into shock. [13] Hunter originally intended for the main character to be a teacher, but Annie Hayworth’s character ultimately grew out of this. [17] Hunter arranged his scripts according to shots rather than scenes, but this had no bearing on the finished product. [18].

Hitchcock asked a number of people to provide feedback on the initial draft of Hunter’s screenplay. Hitchcock summarized their concerns in a letter to Hunter, saying that the first part of the script was excessively long, the two leads’ characterizations were lacking, and certain scenes lacked drama and viewer interest. Afterwards, Hitchcock conferred with his friends Hume Cronyn—whose spouse Jessica Tandy was portraying Lydia—and V S. Pritchett, who both offered lengthy reflections on the work. [20] This is something that Hunter found difficult. [21] To produce a more ambiguous ending, Hitchcock trimmed the final ten pages of the screenplay—though some sources suggest he may have cut more—[5][22]. Prior to the movie’s official release, he had intended for the film to conclude without a “The End” card, but he felt compelled to add one. [22].

FAQ

When did Alfred Hitchcock The Birds?

The Birds is a 1963 American natural horror-thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, released by Universal Pictures.

What is the origin of The Birds story?

The present scientific consensus is that birds are a group of maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs that originated during the Mesozoic Era. A close relationship between birds and dinosaurs was first proposed in the nineteenth century after the discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx in Germany.

Is the movie The Birds Based on a true story?

While the film was actually an adaptation of a short story in 1961 by Daphne du Maurier where a giant flock of confused sooty shearwater birds invaded the Pacific coast near Santa Cruz. The birds, who were heavily weighed down by sardines, had lost their sense of direction and crashed into nearby buildings.

Why didn t Nat work full time at the farm?

In early December, a normal autumn in a British coastal town turns suddenly wintry overnight. The day before, Nat Hocken notices an increase in the number of birds flocking around the farm where he works part-time due to a wartime disability.