Discover: The Singing Ringing Tree

Our Video Content Co-Ordinator Flick Beckett takes a look at this Christmas gem from Germany. Playing on Wed 18 Dec

Felicity Beckett

05 Dec 19

Based on a Brothers Grimm Fairytale (The Hurleburlebutz) The Singing Ringing Tree is a 1957 production from DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft) the first post-war, East German, film production company originally set up in the Soviet Zone to re-educate the German population following 12 years of Nazi rule. 

A somewhat happy-go-lucky prince sets off through a wonderfully wobbly, brightly coloured set somewhere between Michael Bentine's Potty Time and The Wizard of Oz to woo a princess with the standard gift of priceless jewels. On reaching the palace after his long journey our prince is slightly taken aback by a less than impressed princess who rudely tips the gifts on the floor. On asking what gift would make her happy, she names the mythical singing, ringing tree that no-one has ever seen or knows where to find. Undeterred, searching high and low he enters the magical kingdom where the singing ringing tree grows and is ruled by an evil dwarf. The unkind ruler tricks the prince by agreeing to let him take the tree which will sing and ring when the princess loves the prince. Naively the prince agrees and says may he be turned into a bear if the princess doesn't love him by that very evening. The contrary princess is quite disgusted by the ugly branch purporting to be the Singing Ringing Tree and sends the poor prince on his way again. Despairing he returns the tree to the dwarf and is turned into a quite disturbing looking bear. What follows is a gripping, magical, epic journey for the bear and the princess; kidnap, betrayal, treachery and rescue including a giant, swivel eyed fish and a horse sporting bizarre eyeliner and ill fitting but well intended wig.

All of these trials help the princess to learn to look beyond appearances, love and be loved in return. While the prince learns what it is to have his taken-for- granted liberty taken away and that he actually needs the princess to rescue him. A fabulously technicolor, time capsule of cinema past with a fantastically sci-fi electronic score a la the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. 

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