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The Blue Bird (1918)

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 ...
...
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Maurice Tourneur grew up in France and worked at the famed film company Éclair. Éclair was interested in expanding its market in the US. So, in 1914, since Tourneur spoke fluent English, it asked him to move to manage its studio in Fort Lee, NJ. Shortly after moving to Fort Lee he began working for other studios--including Paramount Pictures, which released this picture. See more »

Quotes

Title Card: Light, the most glorious soul of all.
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Connections

Version of The Blue Bird (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Kid Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
29 April 2010 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Somewhere or anywhere, during a snowy winter, young Robin Macdougall (as Tyltyl) and little sister Tula Belle (as Mytyl) learn their neighbor's child is sick. The ailing girl thinks she might be well and happy if she could only have young Tyltyl's caged bird, but Mytyl decides the siblings won't give it up. That evening, they are awakened by a winged fairy, Lillian Cook (as Berylune), who sets them off on a quest to find the elusive "Bluebird of Happiness" and put it in their suddenly empty cage.

Companions like humanized feline Tom Corless (as Cat) consider sabotaging the mission, because he, canine Charles Ascot (as Dog), and other manifestations of inhumanity learn they will cease to exist if and when the children achieve success. Tyltyl and Mytyl search far and wide for the Bluebird of Happiness - meeting not only their dead grandparents, but also their future brother during their journey - but the creature remains hidden where they least expect to find it…

"The Blue Bird" is filled with beautiful thoughts from the original Maurice Maeterlinck play. Homilies like "Heaven is where you and I kiss each other…" seems as good a definition as any. With majestic allegory by director Maurice Tourneur, production designer Ben Carré, and their crew, it was probably unwise to try to improve this orchestrated silent version of "The Blue Bird" - and filmmakers famously failed twice. Despite the ravages of time, this is the definitive version of the classic story.

Regrettably, the film has deteriorated beyond restoration in some spots. Moreover, some cutting has been done. Most famous is the trimming of a nude child sleeping right of mother "Night" - still, the naked form appears full, early in the sequence. Probably, the censors left the long shots intact. The children were modestly and tastefully photographed, by the way. Also, it does seem like some exposition is missing about the diamond-studded hat Tyltyl is given - the turning of which prompts magic.

After the huge success of Mary Pickford as "The Poor Little Rich Girl" (1917), Mr. Tourneur was obviously riding a creative peak. Within a year, he had three more critically acclaimed classics - "Barbary Sheep" (1917), "The Blue Bird" (1918), and "Prunella" (1918). All three placed in "Motion Picture" magazine's year's best photoplays (at #4, #6, and #3).

Probably, "The Blue Bird" was too long and episodic a flight for most 1918 theatergoers, and the film performed less than spectacularly at the box office. Potential plot threads, like the Cat's mutiny, appear curiously underdeveloped. Still, the film's beauty shines through. And, the dream-like quality present in the tinted, flickering, wordless scenes only add to the magic.

Perhaps most incredible is the not original, yet startling in context ending - young Tyltyl (Macdougall) unexpectedly "speaks" directly to the audience (about the quest) while the once sickly, but now beautiful young Katherine Bianchi smiles knowingly at his side - sister Mytyl (Belle) is regulated to the background, most definitely pondering this latest turn of events…

********* The Blue Bird (3/31/18) Maurice Tourneur ~ Robin Macdougall, Tula Belle, Lillian Cook, Tom Corless


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