Analyse the trailer
• What aspects of a typical thriller does it
• How does it appeal to its audience?
“The Birds” (1963)
119 min - Horror | Thriller
Daphne Du Maurier (story), Evan Hunter
• Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and
• A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a
potential boyfriend to a small Northern
California town that slowly takes a turn for the
bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin
to attack people there in increasing numbers
and with increasing viciousness
In what ways is this an archetypal
• This time the external threat is from
• Often in Hitchcock there is nowhere to hide –
eg Bodega Bay in “The Birds”
• “Thrillers are characterized by fast pacing,
• Find examples of this in “The Birds”
• Watch the first clip – it then directs you to
other key scenes you can analyse.
• “resourceful heroes who must thwart the
plans of more powerful and better equipped
• Is this true of ““The Birds””?
• “Devices such as suspense, red herrings and
cliffhangers are used extensively.”
• Find examples of this in ““The Birds”” Be
• Dramatic irony – when audience know
something individual characters do not. In the
schoolyard scene Tippi Hendren does not
know the birds have been gathering but the
audience does. We have knowledge denied to
• In Schoolyard scene the underlying score of
the innocent child’s song is in contrast to the
evil in nature. Tippi Hendren’s character is
only guilty of taking nature for granted.
• In “The Birds” scene outside the café – the
high camera angle is like the gaze of a pitiless
God who cannot be bothered to intervene.
• “A thriller is a villain driven plot, whereby he
presents obstacles the hero must overcome.”
• Is this true of ““The Birds””?
• Talk about the MacGuffin
• MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin)
is "a plot element that catches the viewers'
attention or drives the plot of a work of
• The defining aspect of a MacGuffin is that the
major players in the story are (at least initially)
willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to
obtain it, regardless of what the MacGuffin
• In fact, the specific nature of the MacGuffin
may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, left
open to interpretation or otherwise
completely unimportant to the plot.
• Common examples are money, victory, glory,
survival, a source of power, or a potential
threat, or it may simply be something entirely
• The MacGuffin is common in films, especially
thrillers. Commonly, though not always, the
MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in
the first act, and then declines in importance
as the struggles and motivations of characters
• It may come back into play at the climax of
the story, but sometimes the MacGuffin is
actually forgotten by the end of the film.
• In TV interviews, Hitchcock defined a
MacGuffin as the object around which the plot
revolves, but, as to what that object
specifically is, he declared, "the audience
Did you know?
• The scene where Tippi Hedren is ravaged by
birds near the end of the movie took a week
to shoot. The birds were attached to her
clothes by long nylon threads so they could
not get away.
How it was done.
• The movie features 370 effects shots. The final
shot is a composite of 32 separately filmed
• A number of endings were being considered
for this film. One that was considered would
have showed the Golden Gate Bridge
completely covered by birds.
The film does not finish with the usual "THE
END" title because Alfred Hitchcock wanted to
give the impression of unending terror.
Dip your toe into the lake of fear!
• When audiences left the film's UK premiere at
the Odeon, Leicester Square, London, they
were greeted by the sound of screeching and
flapping birds from loudspeakers hidden in
the trees to scare them further.
• Hedren was actually cut in the face by a bird in
one of the shots.
• There is no musical score for the film except
for the sounds created on the mixtrautonium,
an early electronic musical instrument, by
Oskar Sala, and the children singing in the
•Mankind has abused birds throughout history.
Deliberate irony in the café scene with the elderly ‘bird
loving’ lady. She is interrupted by an order for three
southern fried chickens. In addition one of the other
character’s initial reaction is to shoot the birds.
•Hitchcock said that in “The Birds” the usual evasions
(science/religion) are denied to us. We are on our own.
• Hitchcock said thrillers allow the audience, "to
put their toe in the cold water of fear to see
what it's like”
Has he succeeded in this film?