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Tourneur, Maurice "The Blue Bird" (1918)


In 1918, Maurice Tourneur released a silent fantasy film “The Blue Bird”. The film entailed two main characters, Tyltyl and Mytlyl, and their mission was to find happiness, joy and peacefulness. Throughout the film, Tyltyl and Myltl went on a journey, and encountered different symbolic images, objects and characters that they later realized are so important for them. The film’s structure was simple enough for children in 1918 to understand the lesson of happiness, joy and peacefulness.

The film opened showing several families in various financial situations and how each wanted something that somebody else had, thinking it would bring them happiness. Prior to the journey, the film quality became blurry and that was intentional because Tourneur wanted viewers to understand the difference between the children sleeping and them dreaming. The contrast was the blur to the bed with the Angel and the Fairy behind the bed, and that was how the entire dream and journey began. The film had two main symbolic figures, the Fairy and The Blue Bird. The Fairy helped Tyltyl and Myltyl throughout their journey to find happiness, and the Blue Bird represented happiness.

Throughout the journey, Tourneur included informative and transitional intertitles and special effects that allowed viewers to follow along Tyltyl’s and Myltyl’s mission to find the Blue Bird of happiness. The mission for the characters were to find a blue bird in a cage and then to bring it home to make them feel happy. Tourneur struggled with some of the transitions from one scene to another, and it was difficult for viewers to pick up, specifically from real life to dreaming and back to real life. Viewers were unable to recognize between a dream and real life until Tyltyl and Myltyl saw the dog and cat looking like a person. Tourneur used three different rooms for finding happiness, but each room had obstacles to find happiness. The third room was the room for joy and happiness for Tyltyl and Mytyl, where they got to reunite with their grandparents and brothers and sisters. Lastly, Tyltyl and Mytyl found a blue bird in that room of happiness.

Throughout the journey, Tourneur used personification with the fire, dog, cat, sugar and other objects that represented different things were very important for everyday life that Tyltyl and Mytyl took for granted, however it was not defined clearly until the end of the journey. Once they woke up, they realized that they had so much stuff and that they realized that they had enough to give them happiness. There was a sick lower-class girl that needed the bird to give her happiness to hit the road to recovery. Following the issue, the bird was given to the girl and the girl became very close with Tyltyl and Mytyl at the very end.

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