starring Tula Belle
May, 1918

There is no director of moving pictures with a keener sense of the beautiful than Maurice Tourneur, and his genius for creating scenes of exquisite loveliness comes to its full fruition in "The Blue Bird," made from Maeterlinck's drama. It is so beautiful, from beginning to end, that it fairly stings the senses, awakening in the spectator esthetic emotions so long dormant, so seldom exercised, that the flashing light of he awakening is almost a surfeit of joy. Almost -- only not entirely. For while this is an allegory, or drama picture, it is so closely bound to humanity in all its phases, that it goes deeper than the mere artistic observation, and appeals to the heart direct. I saw this wonderful picture in a small projection room, the lights flashing up between the reels, and yet a small company of staid editors and film folk were enchanted, and audible gasps could be heard from time to time as Tourneur 's creation revealed some new, astonishing thing. It is Maeterlinck, himself -- the Maeterlinck of the first decade of the twentieth century, after he had emerged from his decadence with a glorious understanding of the simplicity of existence.

The blue bird is the symbol of happiness. Two children go on a pilgrimage in search of this bird. All the common things in life -- bread , milk, water, fire, the god, the cat, and so on -- are given souls and speech, and accompany them. They visit the Palace of Night, the graveyard, the home of children not yet born, and all sorts of mysterious places, finally discovering happiness to be just where they started. It is an idea that can be either platitudinous or illuminative, depending upon the treatment. I want to go on record as saying that the Tourneur interpretation is greater than the play as it existed in a book and much greater than it was on the stage. This is because Tourneur has understood what Maeterlinck meant, and has added to the Belgian's masterpiece his own splendid imaginative powers. His selection of a cast was perfect, and I decline to praise any individual here, where there is not space to speak of all. Ben Carré superintended the construction of the marvelous sets, marvelous because they tell so much in such striking simple manner.

This is one of the most important photodramas ever made. It blazes a new trail in production. It is addressed to the keenest and most critical audience. It defies the hypercritical. For the vision to see the possibilities the Artcraft executives deserve high praise, scarcely second to that which must be accorded the genius of the play himself -- Tourneur.

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