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The Blue Bird

12 customer reviews

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(Sep 06, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Wildly inventive and effortlessly enchanting, Maurice Tourneur's legendary 1918 fantasy The Blue Bird combines spectacular costumes, lavish sets, ingenious camera effects and disarmingly naturalistic performances in a wholly original American silent film masterpiece. Tourneur's extravagant vision anticipates the spellbinding German Expressionism of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, made the following year, while affectionately evoking the whimsical theatricality of Georges M+ªli+¨s's pioneering cinematic genius. Based upon Nobel Prize-winner Maurice Maeterlinck's play, The Blue Bird takes two young children on an allegorical voyage that bridges the chasm between the conscious and the unconscious. Joined by magically humanized pets and living household objects, brother and sister Mytyl and Tyltyl travel through a series of dream worlds on a quest for the elusive Blue Bird of Happiness. Beautifully preserved with its original color tints, The Blue Bird was rescued from decomposing nitrate elements by the George Eastman House as part of The National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Park Service's Saving America's Treasures program through the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tula Belle, Robin Macdougall, Edwin E. Reed, Emma Lowry, William J. Gross
  • Directors: Maurice Tourneur
  • Writers: Charles Maigne, Maurice Maeterlinck
  • Format: Full Screen, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: September 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A59QJ6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,865 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Blue Bird" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Underwood on September 14, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I had no idea what to expect from "The Blue Bird" at first, but knew I would like it simply because it was directed by Maurice Tourneur, whose prior studies in Art back in France gave his films a beautiful and special artistic quality, and placed him as an important director in the early pioneering days of cinema. The few Tourneur films I had seen already, however, did not prepare me for the exquisite charm and delight of "The Blue Bird", and the more I watched this film, the more I was impressed. There are two main aspects that struck me most: firstly, "The Blue Bird" is visually beautiful and delightful, with attention to photography, lighting and not in the least some special effects and sets that give the entire film a fairytale feeling. Far from being a mere children's fairytale, however, the second impressive aspect of this film is the depth of spiritual meaning in the story itself, which was originally written by Maurice Maeterlinck and made into a successful play in 1910. The blue bird symbolizes happiness, and two children go on a quest in a magical dream adventure to find this elusive bird. With the aid of a fairy and some magic, the children are able to see the invisible world: the soul or spirit of everyday things like water, bread and fire, as well as seeing the inner spirit of their pet dog and cat, their mother, and souls of children who have died and are yet to be born. They are also shown the luxuries, such as `eating when not hungry and drinking when not thirsty', and by the end of their journey the children learn how to recognize and value the things around them, and the moral of the story is that happiness is first to be found right near you - not in the chasing of faraway, elusive dreams.Read more ›
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on September 14, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you mention the name Tourneur (tour-NURR) to most film aficianados they will say Jacques Tourneur (1904-1977) the director of the film noir classic OUT OF THE PAST and several Val Lewton horror films such as CAT PEOPLE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. But before Jacques there was his father Maurice Tourneur (1873-1961) who was one of the major directors of the silent era. He came to the U.S. in 1912 and made a number of major films until 1926 when studio interference drove him back to France where his career continued but was never quite the same. Until recently he was long overshadowed by his son because so many of his films were unavailable. Now that is being rectified with the release in the last few years of many of his silent classics (see VICTORY, THE WISHING RING, and THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS).

Two brand new releases are LORNA DOONE and this first and best version of Maurice Maeterlinck's allegorical play THE BLUE BIRD. Tourneur was one of the great visual stylists of the silent era and nowhere is that more apparent than here. The film is a combination of realistic and deliberately stylised elements that draw on Tourneur's former theatrical background. This mixing of styles confused audiences of 1918 and the film, though critically praised, was not a success. Even today it takes some getting used to but if you make the effort THE BLUE BIRD has its share of rewards.

The print used for this DVD comes from the George Eastman House and is a restored version of an old VHS version released through Grapevine Video. It too features the original 1918 color tints and is in much better shape though parts of the film still retain some damage but not enough to ruin the viewing experience especially for silent film enthusiasts.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Balaste on May 28, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Tourneur was a director of great visual imagination--but how do you show this in a film that has chemical decomposition and even blistering running down its center through roughly half its length? Add to that several lengthy missing scenes in the middle, and a few missing shorter sequences elsewhere, and you've got a problem getting the essence of the man's vision across to even veteran archival film lovers who can accept a good quality print of Griffith. I enjoyed it, but I was willing to work through all the screen garbage to see some of the beauty that was buried, there. My wife just rubbed her eyes.

So kudos to the Eastman folks for holding this print, and making it available, and to the music team for creating such a sympathetic score. But nobody restored this work, and Kino took its usual cheap way out of extras by simply printing on screen a laudatory review from the original film's opening, and a couple of acts from the original play. Not a commentary in sight, or bios of the director, or actors, or listing of Tourneur's films.

So cavaet emptor: consider The Blue Bird for purchase only if you don't mind owning a heavily damaged, somewhat incomplete version of the film, in the likelihood no one will do for it what has been done for many other films of its vintage. I'm hoping this version will be superceded in the near future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Johnston on February 25, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
wow. whatta trip. always liked 'The Bluebird', but i'd have to say the original is a lot stranger and less normative than it's more easy going remakes. i mean some of this was a little hard to take, but usually silent cinema fantasies are. the silent cinema versions of 'OZ' are a lot kookier than the 1938 MGM version with Judy Garland. and that's saying a lot since the old MGM classic probably deserves more of a reputation as a oddity than anything else.
i've always loved the 'Bluebird' since youth because of it's simple sweetness. i'd have to say if i saw this as a young child i'd think it was too weird and scary. even viewing this silent version for the first time as a adult, i'd have to say much of the charm and appeal was a little lost on me. i just couldn't get over so much of the creepiness. but it did have some charm. and the kids were kind of cute once you got used to all that silent movie, caked on facial make up. and the fairy had trippy butterfly wings.
mostly this movie gives me the spookies. but it was very "otherwordly" and offbeat. even for the silent era when most films were unitentionally odd. and Touner's direction was eerie and haunting. this version is mostly for the archives and for adults. most of the "younger generation" and kids will probably just think it outdated, creepy and scary. but serious cinema fans will enjoy it.
note: too bad the original prints of this classic are lost or badly damaged. a reminder that ALL film and television should be perserved for archival purposes. it should not be left to personal opinion or pick and choose mentality. one person's garbage is another person's unforgettable experience and whatever, they always tell us something of the time period. but kudos to the woderful and inspiring KINO distribution for doing a first class job of bringing us the finest print possible of rare and neglected film masterpieces.
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