How to End The Birds

Final scene of The Birds, 1963

Following the final attack of the birds, the Brenners escape the house—a key scene with the principals that remained to be shot. Hitchcock was still pondering the film’s ending. Should the birds keep up their attack? Why were the birds attacking? Why? The moron millions would want some answer, and he hated tidy answers.

It was during the last days of principal photography that Hitchcock decided to scrap [screenwriter] Evan Hunter’s ending and excise several pages of dialogue and storyboarded visuals in favor of a single lengthy shot that would show Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and the Brenners slowly driving away in their sports car, crossing a bird-infested landscape as dawn breaks overhead. No final pursuit by the birds; no implication the attacks have spread—or have ended.

The future was left ambiguous. To Hunter, Hitchcock’s ending was a betrayal, yet its message was faithful to Daphne du Maurier’s novella. More important, it was true to Hitchcock—the kind of open ending the director had always preferred, salvaging his characters without offering any false reassurance that evil had been entirely vanquished.

“Emotionally speaking,” Hitchcock later said in defense of the controversial ending, “the movie was already over for the audience. The additional scenes would have been playing while everyone was leaving their seats and walking up the aisles.”

The ending was also a technical accomplishment, weaving the actors together seamlessly with a horde of live, dummy, and optical-illusion birds, against a background which is one of Albert Whitlock’s finest matte paintings. Thirty-two different exposures were required for the film’s final image, which remains stunning—“the most difficult single shot I’ve ever done,” said Hitchcock.

—excerpted from Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness & Light by Patrick McGilligan

This entry was posted in Alfred Hitchcock, Greatest Movies of the 1960s, Hollywood, Movies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Comment Rules


Seraphic Secret is private property, that's right, it's an extension of our home, and as such, Karen and I have instituted two Seraphic Rules and we ask commentors to act respectfully.

  1. No profanity.
  2. No Israel bashing. We debate, we discuss, we are respectful. You know what Israel bashing is. The world is full of it. Seraphic Secret is one of the few places in the world that will not tolerate this form of anti-Semitism.

That's it. Break either of these rules and you will be banned.


7 Comments

  1. Bill Brandt
    Posted January 5, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to you Robert I bought a Blu-ray edition of the birds. Lots of interesting stuff in the special features section. Tippi was saying that that scene by the rooftop the birds which were alive were going crazy and really pecking her.

    Wasn’t the feeling Hitchcock wanted to present it that it was all caused by Tippi Hedren’s character?

    I’ll have to watch the ending again but that’s the feeling I got.

    By the way I was just inbut Bodega Bay. Tides restaurant hasn’t changed all that much since the filming. Probably thanks to the California coastal commission 😉

    For those who don’t know the area some of the filming was done in the town of bodega about 3 to 4 miles inland.

    Other scenes were in but Bodega Bay, on the coast of course.

    And some were down in Hollywood 🙂

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted January 6, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      In fact, one of the minor characters accuses the Hedrin character of causing the bird attacks. This is viewed in the film as a hysterical reaction, much like an accusation of witchcraft. Hitchcock sees the bird attacks as a mysterious force of nature or perhaps a punishment from God.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • sennacherib
        Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        As already noted before, atonement in Texas is easily attainable with a model 1100 Remington 12 ga. and #7 shot express loads. Sack cloth, ashes, gnashing of teeth are all optional (eating of dirt was and still is discouraged near feed lots).

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. sennacherib
    Posted January 5, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    A little known fact, the bird’s reign of terror continued until dove season in Texas when it came to an abrupt halt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. kgbudge
    Posted January 5, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    “The moron millions”

    Was Hitchcock really that contemptuous of his audience, or did McGilligan project that onto him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted January 6, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Like most Hollywood people Hitchcock was split regarding the public. If audiences made one of his films a hit, they were brilliant. If they hated a film and it flopped (The Birds, Vertigo, Marnie) then the audience were stupid peasants.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Barry
        Posted January 7, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        The peasants wee insightful. Thumbs up to them.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

  • How I Married Karen

    The new book
    by Robert J. Avrech


    Available in All Major Book Stores

    Buy this e-book for your Kindle from Amazon!
    Buy this e-book in the iBookStore!
    Buy this e-book in the iBookStore!

    Adobe Digital Edition's version is available through the Lulu store!

    Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

  • Follow Me on Pinterest
  • Subscribe to Seraphic Press via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



  •  

    Annual Ariel Avrech
    Memorial Lectures

    Young Israel of Century City

    Fourteenth: June 11, 2016
    Daniel Greenfield: “Fighting Anti-Semitism and Defending Israel in the Age of BDS.”

    Blog Post
    MP3 Audio Stereo (100 MB)
    Thirteenth: May 22, 2016
    Ben Shapiro: “How You Can Save Israel”

    Blog Post
    MP3 Audio Stereo (70 MB)
    Twelfth: June 7, 2015
    Larry Elder: “The New Black Anti-Semitism”

    Blog Post
    MP3 Audio Mono (50 MB) | Stereo (100 MB)
    Eleventh: June 8, 2014
    Michael Medved: “Shifting Alliances: Why Liberals No Longer Reliably Support Israel — And Conservatives Do.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 97MB)
    Tenth: June 9, 2013
    David Horowitz: “The War Against Judaism on the University Campus.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 16MB)
    Ninth: June 3, 2012
    Joel B. Pollak: “The Mainstream Media’s Betrayal of Israel.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 15MB)
    Eighth: June 5, 2011
    Yossi Klein Halevi: “What is Expected of a Survivor People: Lessons My Father Taught Me.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 18MB)
    Seventh: June 13, 2010
    Dennis Prager: “Happiness is a Mitzvah, Not an Emotion.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 80MB)
    Sixth: June 21, 2009
    Rabbi Steven Pruzansky: “Conformity in Jewish Life: Vice, Virtue or Affectation?”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 64MB)
    Fifth: June 15, 2008
    Rabbi Dr. Gil S. Perl: “What Was the Rosh Yeshiva Reading: Intellectual Openness in 19th Century Lithuania.”

    Blog Post | Audio (mp3 70MB)
  • Tags

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Friends

    Hollywood

    Politics, Bloggers & News

  • Hitmap