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The Blue Bird (1918)

 -  Fantasy  -  31 March 1918 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 424 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 9 critic

Two peasant children, Mytyl and Tyltyl, are led by Berylune, a fairy, to search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. Berylune gives Tyltyl a cap with a diamond setting, and when Tyltyl turns the... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tula Belle ...
Robin Macdougall ...
Edwin E. Reed ...
Emma Lowry ...
William J. Gross ...
Florence Anderson ...
Edward Elkas ...
Katherine Bianchi ...
Lillian Cook ...
Gertrude McCoy ...
Lyn Donelson ...
Charles Ascot ...
Dog
Tom Corless ...
Cat
Mary Kennedy ...
Water
Eleanor Masters ...
Milk
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Storyline

Two peasant children, Mytyl and Tyltyl, are led by Berylune, a fairy, to search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. Berylune gives Tyltyl a cap with a diamond setting, and when Tyltyl turns the diamond, the children become aware of and conversant with the souls of a Dog and Cat, as well as of Fire, Water, Bread, Light, and other presumably inanimate things. The troupe thus sets off to find the elusive Blue Bird of Happiness. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Fantasy

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31 March 1918 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El pájaro azul  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The original Broadway production of "The Blue Bird" or "L'Oiseau Bleu" by Maurice Maeterlinck opened at the New Theatre (followed by the Majestic Theater) on October 1, 1910 and closed on January 21, 1911. Revivals were produced in 1911 and 1924. See more »

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Version of Sinyaya ptitsa (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Blue Bird of Happiness.
13 July 2007 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

The Belgian author and symbolist playwright Maurice Maeterlinck was a very popular literary figure of his day. His play "Pelléas et Mélisande", in fact, inspired at least four well-known musical works by Fauré, Schönberg, Sibelius and, most famously, the full-length opera of the same name by Claude Debussy.

The heavy symbolism of his plays including his "fairy" play, "L'Oiseau Bleu" (The Blue Bird.) from 1909 apparently intrigued the public in the first part of the 20th century. But when his works were placed on the Roman Catholic Index of Forbidden Books, they, naturally, became even more popular!

There have been many film versions of "The Blue Bird", most notably, the unsuccessful 1940 version with Shirley Temple and the 1976 Russian-American disaster with Elizabeth Taylor. The present film is a 1918 silent film by the renowned French director (working in America at this time.) Maurice Tourneur.

The cast of this film is unfamiliar to present-day audiences. The little girl who played Mytyl was Tula Belle (Hollingshead); she was born in Norway (to an American father at least.) and died in California in 1992! The boy Robin MacDougall seems to have made only this one film and the rest of the cast are not likely to be alive in 2007 as they'd mostly have to be well over 100. So this is a fascinating look at long-gone film techniques and acting styles.

The DVD is based on an obviously deteriorated print but restored, as well as possible, at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Various scenes were tinted in accordance with the theories of what each scenes' mood was meant to be. The "special effects" were adequate for the period but obviously not up to modern computer-generated effects.

The characters are generally allegorical with actors portraying the personifications of Light, Night, Dog, Cat, Water, Milk, Bread etc. The lengthy scene with unborn children clearly mirrored the ideology of the time that one has a duty to have many children. A similar scene with the voices of unborn children in the Richard Strauss opera (1918 coincidentally.) "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" (The Woman Without a Shadow"), a similar ode to fecundity, shows the obvious influence of this play and probably mirrors the attitudes against Margaret Sanger and her birth-control followers. (But Sanger largely prevailed, at least in the U.S.)

Another obvious influence of this play is on the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz". In Judy's last speech, she realizes that if happiness can't be found at home "in your own backyard", it can't be found at all. There was also a popular but now rather campy song made popular by Jan Peerce in 1948, "Bluebird of Happiness". (He did an earlier version in 1935.) This DVD is an important reminder of these old attitudes and it certainly has its moments of beauty. On the whole, though, it is, in my opinion, rather of a "hoot". The acting is strictly of the period and everything else about it is quite dated.


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