Follow the Blue Bird of Happiness to the Music Box on August 11 – Maurice Tourneur’s Masterpiece in 35mm

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 •  Advance Tickets Here

Saturday, August 11 @ 11:30 AM / Live Organ Accompaniment by Dennis Scott
Directed by Maurice Tourneur • 1918
Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1908 play The Blue Bird had already charmed audiences in Moscow, London, and New York by the time this magical adaptation reached the screen. The simple fairy tale of Mytyl and Tytyl, children who journey through enchanted lands in search of the Bluebird of Happiness, provided the ideal material for Maurice Tourneur, the French émigré who brought a wispy Pictorialist sensibility to the wilds of New Jersey. Aided immensely by the craftwork of Tourneur’s regular collaborators — the elaborate set design of Ben Carré, the expert trick photography of John van den Broek and Charles Van Enger — this delicate dream of a film excels in realizing the stranger aspects of Maeterlinck’s play with wide-eyed, guileless gusto: the spirits and fairies, the living souls of everyday objects like bread and milk, the Cathedral of Happiness, and more. The reviews were sensational, but The Blue Bird was roundly rejected by exhibitors as too arty for its own good. Seen now in a tinted preservation print, The Blue Bird fully earns the hyperbole of Photoplay a century ago: “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 the awakening is almost a surfeit of joy.” (KW)
80 min • Artcraft Pictures Corporation • 35mm from George Eastman Museum
Short: “Voice of the Nightingale” (Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1925) – 13 min – 16mm

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $10 •  Advance Tickets Here

August 13 @ 7:00 PM
Directed by Tsui Hark • 1993
In Cantonese with English subtitles
Hong Kong pop cinema wasn’t exactly sober or sedate before the arrival of Tsui Hark, but once the master of renegade Cantonese genre fare hit the scene in the late ’70s, things got decidedly wilder and weirder. Tsui was 14 years and 22 films deep into his career as a director and had moved from punk rock outsider to studio mogul when he made his revisionist wuxia masterpiece Green Snake, a film that married the surface appeal of a special effects-heavy martial arts blowout with a colorful, hyperactive style and subversive sense of humor reminiscent of Frank Tashlin played at centuple speed. An update of the undying folk tale Madame White Snake, Green Snake features Hong Kong superstars Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong as a pair of sororal snake spirits hunted by a puritanical Buddhist monk after taking human form. Wong’s White Snake, whose human existence is validated by romantic love and motherhood, may have been the focus of the original story, but Tsui’s film is equally concerned with Cheung’s Green Snake, a character more comfortable eating rats and slithering through the marshes abutting her palatial estate than living among people. Tsui’s apparent working maxim of “more is more” pays off in spades here, as every overindulgent camera tilt and oversized snake prosthetic serve to push this outrightly ridiculous pulp concoction ever closer to the sublime. (CW)
99 min. • Film Workshop • 35mm from the Academy Film Archive
Preceded by: ’90s Hong Kong Trailer Reel

 Check out the rest of the season here!

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