Blue Bird

The Blue Bird

Director: Maurice Tourneur, Charles Ascot, Tula Belle, Tom Corless

Cast: Maurice Tourneur, Charles Ascot, Tula Belle, Tom Corless

     
 

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While most of the plays and novels of Maurice Maeterlinck have proved virtually impossible to film, the author's allegorical fantasy The Blue Bird has been translated to the screen no fewer than three times. The first version, directed by Maurice Tourneur and designed by Tourneur's favorite art director Ben Carre, was arguably the most visually impressive of

Overview

While most of the plays and novels of Maurice Maeterlinck have proved virtually impossible to film, the author's allegorical fantasy The Blue Bird has been translated to the screen no fewer than three times. The first version, directed by Maurice Tourneur and designed by Tourneur's favorite art director Ben Carre, was arguably the most visually impressive of the three (though the 1940 version, starring Shirley Temple), ran a close second. The story is the familiar one about two mittel-European youngers, Tyltyl (Robin MacDougall) and Mytyl (Tula Belle), who, unhappy with their present lots in life, embark upon a search for the Bluebird of Happiness. In the course of their odyssey, the children pay extended visits to the "Palace of Joy and Delights" and "The Land of the Unborn," with a quick stop-over at the graves of their briefly resurrected grandparents. Learning an important Life Lesson at every turn, the kids discover what they should have known at the beginning: That the Bluebird of Happiness was in their own backyard all the time. A brilliant collage of genuine exterior scenes and splendiferous studio-designed sets, The Blue Bird may have seemed a bit "stagey" at times (indeed, it sometimes looked exactly like the stage play from which it was derived), but in terms of sheer beauty and entertainment value, the film could not be faulted. Some historians consider the film to be the best of Maurice Tourneur's surviving silent films, surpassing even his 1922 masterpiece The Last of the Mohicans.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Hans J. Wollstein
With Marguerite Clark's Prunella, also produced in 1918, and this version of Belgian poet Maurice Maeterlinck's allegory L'Oiseau bleu, Maurice Tourneur reached the apex of early silent film fantasy filmmaking. Although most circulating prints of The Blue Bird are badly decomposed, a modern audience can still marvel at André Ibels' slightly expressionistic sets, each scene tinted by hand to make an enchanted world that delighted children in those years before Peter Pan (1924) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). Tula Belle, who had played one of the Helmer children in Tourneur's previous A Doll's House (1917), makes an enchanting Mytyl and Robin Macdougall is the very picture of Tyltyl, the wee peasant children who on Christmas night are led by the fairy Berylune (Lillian Cook) in search of the Blue Bird of Happiness. Despite the alarming state of surviving prints, this 1918 version of Maeterlinck's classic fairy tale remains preferable to the overblown, too calculating 1940 Shirley Temple remake.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/06/2005
UPC:
0738329041823
Original Release:
1918
Rating:
NR
Source:
Kino Video
Presentation:
[Full Frame, Colorized]
Sound:
[silent]
Time:
1:21:00
Sales rank:
69,815

Special Features

Excerpts from the original play by Maurice Maeterlinck; Maurice Tournier bio and filmography; 1918 New York Times Review

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Blue Bird
1. Opening Titles [4:18]
2. The Fabric of Moonbeams [8:27]
3. Fairy Berylune [1:05]
4. The Souls of Things [:00]

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