Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Birds” as Want to Read:
The Birds
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Birds

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  227 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Camille Paglia draws together in this text the aesthetic, technical and mythical qualities of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), and analyzes its depiction of gender and familial relations.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published August 26th 1998 by British Film Institute (first published July 1st 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Birds, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Birds

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 410)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 01, 2010 Jesse rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
So credit where credit is due: by sadistically characterizing the terrorized schoolchildren as "little snacks" for the birds, Paglia has offhandedly offered one of the funniest things I've read in film writing in a long, long time (and I'm up to my ears in it these days).

I was fully expecting to just glance through this book, but once I started I couldn't put it down and read it in (nearly) one sitting, a rarity for me. Oh, certainly the merits of this book-length essay and Paglia's approach to
May 11, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
Fascinating scene by scene exposition of this curious movie. I can't say it's ever been one of my favourites in the Hitchcock canon - the ending left me bewildered and dissatisfied when I first saw it, and after reading Paglia's book it seems to me that there's almost no plot. It's all smoke and mirrors and occasional horrors.

But Paglia makes a great case for it being one of Hitchcock's classics, and her careful dissection of each scene (sometimes she overdoes the sexual aspects, I think, but th
Aug 22, 2012 Blake rated it really liked it
Shelves: film-literary
Paglia's little book of feminine wisdom and study ought to please a cursory or perusing reader equally. Her attention hits every detail of the background and fore; she places shapes on the screen into peculiarly fitting places and reads all small deeds as purposive. Sharp praise layers onto swift prose: the effect is an avocado verity.
Thomas Strömquist
Sep 20, 2015 Thomas Strömquist rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-collection
Fantastic analysis and background to "The Birds". I've read this a couple of times now (and watched the movie of course, it is probably impossible not to after this book). A lot of books offers insights and fun trivia to movies, others enhances the movies to a whole new level - Camille Paglia manages to do the latter, with a film that was a masterpiece to begin with!
Jul 17, 2010 Mitchell rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read by Camille Paglia and I was expecting something much different. This is a wonderful critique (more like a guided tour) of Hitchcock's The Birds . The Birds is one of my most cherished movies and I was dreading a feminist diatribe against it. I was delighted with the humor, incisiveness and respect that Paglia showed for the film. Every once in a while some strident comment slips out, but I forgave her mostly for her humor and love of the film - at one point ...more
Paul Haspel
Jan 28, 2012 Paul Haspel rated it really liked it
Shelves: california, cinema
Camille Paglia writes in a perceptive and challenging manner on issues relating to gender. To her close reading of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1962), Paglia brings her truly impressive erudition, a comprehensive knowledge of how everything from art history to politics to sociology to biology can somehow be brought to bear on Hitchcock's classic suspense film about bird attacks in the northern California coastal town of Bodega Bay. Paglia's diligent research provides the reader with helpful tid ...more
Matt Smith
Mar 06, 2012 Matt Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: film
This was such a pleasure. Camille walks the reader through each significant scene of this film, which is so full of puzzling implications, where nothing adds up neatly (so much of it is open to interpretation, and Tippi Hedren's journey goes in such odd directions, that it's still startling that Hitchcock managed to turn it into a mainstream hit), mixing standard critical observations with more personal responses. These are especially interesting regarding the women in the film, and how they int ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Berry rated it it was amazing
Insightful and fun. Paglia's myth-busting analyses delivered in her trademark un-P.C. style will trigger the callow but thrill the more sophisticated thinker.

I finally understand The Birds. The super glamazon of the world is put in her place on the pecking order by other lesser woman. Tippi is brilliant as the goddess cut to size by the women of Bodega Bay.
Aug 14, 2012 Oscar rated it really liked it
Camille Paglia’s devotes an entire book on Hitchcock’s The Birds. One of the obvious challenges in dealing with a film that has been written about countless of times is to find something different here to say. Here, Paglia is concerned with discussing the history of the film, chronicling the entire plot and characters, all while providing and illuminating discussion and making the film experience her own. She does focus on the female aspects on the film, but with an obvious admiration of the fil ...more
Nov 01, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Paglia's in-depth analysis of the Hitchcock classic is a real treat for fans of the movie. Rather than getting bogged down in dull film theory, she examines every detail of the film in order to show how each element, from Tippi Hedren's wardrobe to the Modigliani print on Suzanne Pleshette's wall, contributes to the overall themes of the film. Her shot-by-shot commentary leads the reader through the film and reveals the richness of Hitchcock's vision. Paglia's trademark irreverent humor is also ...more
Daniel Burton-Rose
Apr 11, 2015 Daniel Burton-Rose rated it liked it
Shelves: film
Elegant and informative. I was surprised by Paglia's acceptance at face value of the nature-civilization binary. But maybe if I'd read more of her other work I wouldn't be.
Nov 01, 2012 Ed rated it liked it
As with all BFI books it's a little hard to critique something that's already a critique. But here goes. This was interesting but I wished the author would've gone into some of the technical aspects of the movie on top of the story and character. This is Hitchcock after all and there's precious little talk about how the movie was made. That said, this is an intelligent analysis of a great movie made more interesting in that it was written in 1998: pre-DVD and internet. This adds a layer that the ...more
Lauren Levitt
May 10, 2016 Lauren Levitt rated it it was ok
I really hate Camille Paglia, but I grudgingly agreed with some points she made. However, I don't think a beautiful woman driving a convertible is the epitome of women's lib. Also, sorry but claiming you identify with gay men doesn't justify your internal misogyny.
Dec 28, 2008 Garry rated it it was ok
Kind of thin on the analysis. Trudges through the movie scene by scene. Some interesting observations, but some of the interesting ones fall in the category of: Oh, that's the interesting point I would EXPECT Paglia to make. Have not read others in this series so I do not know if the restrictions were those of the series or the limits of the author's imagination when it came to this project...which feels like an assignment. But it HAS made me hunt down and put on my To Read list, DuMaurier's sho ...more
Ismael Schonhorst
Mar 20, 2016 Ismael Schonhorst rated it really liked it
A self-styled freudian, sofisticated and very funny magnifying glass for this classic. Try reading while following the movie, and you'll be in good company!
Terence Carlisle
An absolutely brilliant, frame-by-frame deconstruction of the Hitchcock classic. The fire-breathing critical faculties that made "Sexual Personae" so unforgettable a work of art and literary criticism are used to phenomenal effect here, and the reader will never view "The Birds" the same way again. Essential reading for Hitchcock and Paglia fans.
Ryan Splenda
Jun 28, 2012 Ryan Splenda rated it really liked it
Paglia does a great job of explaining the greatness of Hitchcock's 1963 masterpiece. A sort of "revenge of nature" book against humanity is a fair criticism. It is interesting to see this idea evolving in the book and movie during the time when these theories were evolving.
Sep 23, 2010 Colin rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-content
Adult content. This is a book I read recently for a Film Studies course. An interesting and very complete examination of Hitchcock's "The Birds". Some of the material seems like a bit of a stretch, at first ...
Dec 30, 2007 Merrie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Birds lovers
Pretty detailed account of the making of the Hitchcock classic, along with some Camille-isms in film theory. Quick read, very interesting.
Aug 12, 2012 Selena rated it it was amazing
Everything about the Hitchcockian masterpiece blended with the Paglian point of view. A delicious reading..
Sep 24, 2013 Jorge rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
Paglia is a snarky and observant critic. I love the movie "The Birds" and this is a great companion piece.
Jan 15, 2008 Richard rated it liked it
Shelves: 0n-my-bookshelf, kino
It was generally engaging and an enjoyable read but I guess I expected more from Camille Paglia.
Chris Dotson
Chris Dotson marked it as to-read
Sep 19, 2016
Elena rated it it was amazing
Sep 18, 2016
Stanimir is currently reading it
Sep 17, 2016
BookDB marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2016
Eamonn rated it really liked it
Sep 14, 2016
Jessica marked it as to-read
Sep 07, 2016
Richard marked it as to-read
Sep 03, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Citizen Kane
  • The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder
  • The Exorcist
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • The Sopranos and Philosophy: I Kill Therefore I Am
  • Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic
  • Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner
  • Teen Dreams: Reading Teen Film and Television from 'Heathers' to 'Veronica Mars'
  • Enjoy Your Symptom!: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out
  • Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents
  • From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
  • Hitchcock's Films Revisited
  • The Magnificent Ambersons
  • Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood
  • The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made
  • Godard on Godard: Critical Writings
  • Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews
  • The Big Lebowski and Philosophy: Keeping Your Mind Limber with Abiding Wisdom
Camille Anna Paglia is an American social critic, author and teacher. Her book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, published in 1990, became a bestseller. She is a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She has been variously called the "feminist that other feminists love to hate," a "post-feminist fe
More about Camille Paglia...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »