Chic socialite Melanie Daniels enjoys a passing flirtation with an eligible attorney in a San Francisco pet shop and, on an impulse, follows him to his hometown bearing a gift of lovebirds. But upon her arrival, the bird population runs amok. Suddenly, the townsfolk face a massive avian onslaught, with the feathered fiends inexplicably attacking people all over Bodega Bay.
Whereas Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) can rightly be called the first modern horror film, The Birds (1963) is probably the first modern end-of-the-world film. Federico Fellini called it an “apocalyptic poem.” The Birds is also more disturbing than Psycho because there’s no resolution at the end—in fact, the film doesn’t end at all. It builds up the tension more slowly than Psycho did, but once the bird attacks start, they keep happening and get worse each time. At the end, you’re left hanging, which was precisely Hitchcock’s intent.
This month of May our Modern Classics take flight. Every Monday at 22:00 and every Saturday at 16:30 we screen a film about birds. You can find the complete program here.