24 August 2009

Hitchcock's "The Birds"

Released 45 years ago (!), compressed into less than two minutes.
...the behavior of the birds in the film may have been based on a real incident caused by poisoning with domoic acid. This chemical is produced when plankton are exposed to urea, a chemical which can leak out of septic tanks and is naturally present in human urine. Contamination can pass up the food chain, resulting in neurotoxic effects to predatory animals.

On 18 August 1961, residents in the town of Capitola, California, awoke to find sooty shearwaters slamming into their rooftops, and their streets covered with dead birds. News reports suggested domoic acid poisoning (amnesic shellfish poisoning) as the cause. According to a local newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Alfred Hitchcock requested news copy in 1961 to use as "research material for his latest thriller".

Via Neatorama's Upcoming Queue.


  1. Sorry, the film was based on a story by Daphne du Maurier, first published in 1952.

  2. And that story is far, far better than the movie. There is a new edition of du Maurier's stories out by the New York Review of Books Press, Don't Look Now, and it includes "The Birds." The title story, "Don't Look Now," was also made into a chilling movie.

  3. I haven't liked birds since I saw that movie I cannot go into someone's house if they let a bird fly loose.


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