Based on a play of the same title by Maurice Maeterlinck it is about two children who enter a fantasy world in their dreams where they are accosted by a witch-like woman named Berylune who insists that they go fetch the blue bird [or 'bluebird' as the intertitles say].
The two children - a girl and boy named Mytyle and Tytyle - are joined by various colorful characters including a fairy, and spirits and souls such as the Spirit of Water, The Soul of Sugar, et al, along with their pet dog and cat that take on human form. With these characters they fly away to the fairy palace where they hope to retrieve the bluebird.
The film was directed by Maurice Tourneur who captures the fantastic world by employing a whole host of cinematic tricks including superimposition, scenes shot backward and edited forward, German Expressionist-type lighting and color tinting.
Once the children reach the palace they begin to look for the bluebird. While doing this they encounter various worlds that seem there to teach them a lesson. The children first meet Mother Night who reluctantly gives them a key to a bunch of doors she has in her domain. Behind the doors they meet dead souls, ghosts and scary creatures that haunt the Earth.
Then Mytyle and Tytyle go to a different area of this fantastic world and meet their deceased grandparents. They too meet up with all of their dead brothers and sisters - [a scene that really typifies how different the world was then]. Later they go to the Palace of Happiness where they run into a whole host of decadent characters as well as a bunch of unborn children. [A scene that would most likely have political overtones if it were done today].
Some of the characters and scenarios actually reminded me of The Wizard of Oz - especially the dog character who looks like the Cowardly Lion and the soul of sugar who has a similar looks a bit like the Tin Man. The film itself similarly has the main characters in a parallel world where they learn about their lives through a mysterious journey.
The Blue Bird has a lot of intertitles leading us along the way and it begins to feel a bit long - especially when the moral lesson about selflessness becomes apparent. It too has a slower pace than we are accustomed to today. For that reason I'm not sure some kids would appreciate it. But, still, it is a real delight to watch because of the inventive scenarios that director Tourneur comes up with in each scene. It's also good clean fun.
Filmmaker Maurice Tourneur made a good number of silent films, which have been all but forgotten. It's too bad because he was a talented filmmaker. The Blue Bird is a fine film that shows his skills as a filmmaker and is more than worth a look.