Study Guide

The Birds Violence

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Horror films are generally … violent. Yeah, no one's surprised.

The Birds is no different; people get pecked and bloodied and killed. A farmer has his eyes plucked out. Hitchcock doesn't overdo it, though. When we see Annie lying motionless on the lawn, we don't see what's happened; Mitch covers her face so Cathy and Melanie don't have to see it. We've already seen the dead farmer, so we can imagine what happened to Annie. That's almost worse. Hitchcock is a master at getting the greatest effect from the least amount of graphic violence.

What's unusual and terrifying about the violence in The Birds is that there's no reason for it. Dracula sucks your blood because he needs blood to survive; the crazed killer attacks because he's crazed. But, there's no apparent justification for the violence in The Birds. It just whooshes arbitrarily down from the sky. If you can't predict it or understand it, you can't avoid it.

And that's scary.

Questions About Violence

  1. What's the most violent scene in The Birds? Do you think it's necessary? Why or why not?
  2. Do the humans commit any violence against the birds?

Chew on This

The birds in The Birds show how violent nature can be.

Human violence is usually intentional. In The Birds, the birds' violence almost seems intentional, but ultimately, it's just arbitrary.

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