A partly-animated short film, a fairy-tale-like telling of why the nightingale only sings at night. A young girl who has caught a nightingale dreams about the nightingale and its mate, and ... See full summary »




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A partly-animated short film, a fairy-tale-like telling of why the nightingale only sings at night. A young girl who has caught a nightingale dreams about the nightingale and its mate, and comes to realize that birds are not made to be captive but free. In return for its freedom, the nightingale loans the child its voice for use in the daytime, which is why nightingales only sing at night. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Release Date:

15 March 1925 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A fülemüle hangja  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


| (Prizma Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A beautifully rendered fable that is surely this animator's most moving film
12 September 2005 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Wladyslaw Starewicz was a true pioneer of puppet animation, an artist who devised new "pixilation" techniques as early as 1910 and was still producing fascinating movies right through the 1950s. At the time of his death in 1965 he was hard at work on yet another new film, one which, sadly, remained unfinished. Starewicz was unafraid to explore the darker corners of his imagination, and was therefore an influential trail-blazer for such latter-day filmmakers as Jan Svankmajer, the Brothers Quay, and Tim Burton. Starewicz' films usually feature animals whose behavior serves as a satirical comment on human foibles, and while some children might get a kick out of his macabre sense of humor I believe the man's work is best appreciated by adults.

This film, known as "The Voice of the Nightingale" in its English language version, represents a pleasant departure for Starewicz, with a lighter and gentler story that makes it one of his more accessible works for general audiences. This is a simple tale of a little girl who traps a nightingale in a cage and intends to keep it as a plaything. While the girl is asleep the nightingale enters her dreams with his song, and narrates a legend set in the Kingdom of the Flowers. (This scene, featuring fairies and sprites interacting with grasshoppers, dragonflies, etc., may remind some viewers of the "Nutcracker" sequence in Disney's Fantasia.) But then the nightingale sings of his own sad plight, the tale of how he met his lady love, their courtship and the birth of their chick, and how his spouse, out hunting for food one day, narrowly missed being hit by an arrow fired by a boy. Since then, the nightingale has been searching for his spouse, and it was while he was searching for her that he was trapped in the girl's cage, leaving their fledgling alone in the nest and unable to fend for itself. Waking in tears, the girl sets the nightingale free with a new understanding of humans' proper relationship with the animal world.

The story is simple but the exquisite technique Starewicz brings to bear on this material lifts it out of the ordinary. The film combines live action footage of the girl and her surroundings with animated puppets representing the birds, animals and the fairy denizens of the Kingdom of Flowers. All of this footage has been hand-tinted, and the title cards have also been specially decorated and colored. Starewicz expresses his darker side only once, when the newly captured nightingale frightens the little girl -- and the audience! -- by briefly transforming himself into an angry rat. Otherwise, "The Voice of the Nightingale" is a gently moving little fable, sweet but not cloying in tone. Like Starewicz himself, this film deserves to be better known.

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