Mrs. Bundy: Birds have been on this planet, Miss Daniels, since Archaeopteryx, a hundred and forty million years ago. Does not it seem odd that they would wait all that time to start a… a war against humanity.
~ Film, The Birds
I recently watched Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds. The film is based on the novelette by Daphne du Maurier. The screenplay written by Evan Hunter and Ed MacBain, and both, the film, and the story, are vastly different.
Yet, both have similar and highly symbolic connections that are fascinating. Equally, the film and story do not use the symbol of the moon as a word or image. Indirectly, the moon is the main hidden movement in both. The birds are the “sturm and drang” (“Storm and Stress)’ in the film and story.
I remember when I first viewed The Birds on TV! About the age of the little girl Cathy Brenner. I thought the film was scary. Friends and I often pretended and played scenes from the film. We ran down hills of golden green frightened by our imaginary fierce birds.
“Cathy Brenner: When we got back from taking Michelle home, we heard the explosion and went outside to see what it was. All at once, the birds were everywhere. All at once, she pushed me inside and they covered her. Annie, she pushed me inside.”
I want to make an interesting point about the film, it is a film more about relationships between women then about the birds. In the film one finds a maiden, mother, and crone. Annie Hayworth is the sexy maiden where Lydia Brenner is the mother.
Ethel Griffies plays the old crone “ornithologist.” The interesting character of Melanie Daniels plays a female goddess of the moon. She is mysterious, magical, intuitive, and carries love birds to her desired man.
“Melanie Daniels: I thought you knew! I want to go through life jumping into fountains naked, good night!”
In the novelette by Maurier an indirect influence of the moon is always applied. As narrated by main character Nat Hocken, the ocean tide influences the action of a variety of birds. He works on a farm and describes his knowledge of the land and the sea. He is knowledgeable of all the birds in his environment. He is one of nature and his knowledge is as wise as the ornithologist Ethel Griffies from Hunter’s screenplay.
“The species included blackbird, thrush, the common house-sparrow, and, as might be expected in the metropolis, a vast quantity of pigeons and starlings, and that frequenter of the London River, the black-headed gull.”
~ Daphne du Maurier, The Birds: and Other Stories (Kindle Locations 311-312). Little, Brown, and Company. Kindle Edition.
Both film and story indirectly show evidence of the influence of the moon, as the phases of a woman’s life, or the ocean tide. The uncanny attack of the birds is an unconscious one. It is a dynamic pull by the moon at Bodega Bay California or England at a bay of Cornwall on the Celtic Sea. Both film and story hold interesting perspectives.
A wonderful film to see and an exceptional story to read.
“The lull in battle was because of the tide. There was some law the birds obeyed, and it was all to do with the east wind and the tide. He glanced at his watch. Nearly eight o’clock. It must have gone high water an hour ago.
That explained the lull: the birds attacked with the flood tide. It might not work that way inland, up country, but it seemed as if it was so this way on the coast. He reckoned the time limit in his head. They had six hours to go, without attack. When the tide turned again, around one-twenty in the morning, the birds would come back…”
~ Daphne du Maurier, Pg. 523-527.