A comic play by Aristophanes, in which two humans seeking a better city than Athens persuade the hoopoe, and then all the other birds, to unite, and build a great city in the sky. There they can become gods by intercepting sacrifices and prayers and preventing them from reaching the other gods in Olympus.

The city of Nephelococcygia ('Cloud-cuckoo'*) soon attracts scroungers: a poet, an oracle seller, a surveyor, an inspector, an informer. A bird craze sweeps human nations down below.

The goddess Iris, messenger of the Olympians, is arrested as she tries to cross their new domain. Later Poseidon, Heracles, and a barbarian god are sent to negotiate peace, and eventually concede Sovereignty to the birds.

One of the best of Aristophanes' plays, it won second prize in 414 BCE; of the winning play, only the title survives (The Revellers). The Greek name is Ornithes; it often used to be known by its Latin name Aves.

* Often given in English as Cloud Cuckoo Land, but it's a town not a land, and the Greek doesn't explicitly say either.

Sour Grapes (1921)
William Carlos Williams

The Birds

    The world begins again!
    Not wholly insufflated
    the blackbirds in the rain
    upon the dead topbranches
    of the living tree,
    stuck fast to the low clouds,
    notate the dawn.
    Their shrill cries sound
    announcing appetite
    and drop among the bending roses
    and the dripping grass.


Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:

CST Approved.

A film made by Alfred Hitchcock in 1963.

Plot Summary

A well-to-do young woman from San Francisco follows a man she meets in a bird shop to his childhood home in Bodega Bay, California to deliver a pair of lovebirds as a way of getting to know him. For no reason at all, flocks of birds start attacking...


Rod Taylor .... Mitch Brenner
Jessica Tandy .... Lydia Brenner
Suzanne Pleshette .... Annie Hayworth
Tippi Hedren .... Melanie Daniels (as 'Tippi' Hedren)
Veronica Cartwright .... Cathy Brenner
Ethel Griffies .... Mrs. Bundy, elderly ornithologist
Charles McGraw .... Sebastian Sholes, fisherman in diner
Ruth McDevitt .... Mrs. MacGruder, pet store clerk
Lonny Chapman .... Deke Carter, cook in diner
Joe Mantell .... Traveling salesman at diner's bar
Doodles Weaver .... Fisherman helping with rental boat
Malcolm Atterbury .... Deputy Al Malone
John McGovern .... Postal clerk
Karl Swenson .... Doomsayer in diner
Richard Deacon .... Mitch's city neighbor

Cast list courtesy of imdb.com.


The Birds was interesting. I was frustrated by the fact that they never tried to explain why the birds were going nuts. It was left up to the viewer to decide, if they chose to do so. In a way this works, since the movie just focuses on the reactions of the characters and doesn't stray from that. It keeps it simple and clean. I guess this would have been a pretty scary movie back when it was made, but of course it's pretty mundane by today's standards.

The one thing that really annoyed me about this film was the sounds the birds made. The noise didn't seem real, and reminded me more of a tape player eating the tape than of an angry flock of birds. In some cases you could see where the birds had been super imposed on the shot, but otherwise it was quite good. The birds looked real for the most part, and I couldn't help but think that if this movie had been made today, most of the birds would be CGI. The other slightly distracting thing was some of the scene changes. The characters stare off into the distance, and the scene fades out. It reminds me of scene changes in a play.

The acting was quite good overall. The only scene that really bothered me and which ruined an otherwise excellent movie was one where the lead actress is watching a flame follow a trail of spilt gasoline up a hill, anticipating an explosion when it reaches the pumps at the top. The actresses face is shown for something like half a second at a time, and is cut with footage of the flame racing up the hill. The result is the ultimate in cheesy film sequences.

Part of this write-up was lifted from my very own blog.

From the chatterbox:

shannonhubbell says re The Birds : See, I love the fact that the birds actions aren't explained. Explanations always get me down. Ruin the mystery.

TenMinJoe says re The Birds: The thing that annoyed me the most was the way the film suddenly just ends, with no particular point or resolution

I've read (imdb forums I think) that he ended the film this way because the behaviour of the birds was never explained. The film ends in this way to suggest unending terror, since some kind of definite ending would have required an explanation and resolution.

spiregrain says re The Birds: The bird sounds in this film were an innovative use of early synths. I have no references, but seem to remember it won an award or other recognition...

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