– read, watch, listen to, or experience something science fiction / fantasy that was created in 1979 or earlier
– talk about it online sometime in January
– have fun
If any of my readers are also interested in participating this month, let Little Red Reviewer know about your posts if you’d like them to be included in her official roundups.
This week I’m going to be talking about “It’s A Bird,” a three-minute, stop-motion animation film from 1930 that featured Charley Bowers and a metal bird that was capable of turning metal scraps into something incredible.
Harold L. Muller was the director of this film. Click here to watch it or check out the embedded version below. It is safe for viewers of all ages.
Caution – Major Spoilers Below
Think about all of the hours of work that went into creating this film! Every single frame of it had to be painstakingly recorded and then stitched together. There weren’t any computers, much less CGI, to make that job easier.
I loved the world building of this film. Charley was just as surprised as the audience was by the existence of a metal bird who ate metal and turned all of those scraps into a beautiful, white egg.
The fact that the egg hatched into a brand new car made me laugh! I was expecting another metal bird to start running around. Honestly, the only thing better than that was the parent-bird’s response when Charley said that he wanted to take the bird and start making a whole factory’s worth of new cars for them to sell.
I might have done the same thing if I were in his shoes. When you find yourself in a surreal situation, why not take it to its logical conclusions?
This is something I would love to see a sequel for. Where are the other metal birds, if they still exist or ever existed? Where did this metal bird come from? At what point does a car evolve into a bird in this universe? Or does every mechanical creature spawn offspring that look nothing at all like itself?
What a fun story it was at any rate. I’m glad I had a chance to blog about it for Vintage Science Fiction month.
No content warning is necessary. I’d recommend this movie to viewers of all ages and backgrounds.
Klaus is a 2019 animated children’s film about a young, wealthy man named Jespen whose father sent him to a small, freezing cold town called Smeerensburg in order to establish a working postal office there.
I’ll leave it up to you to learn why his father decided to do this. It was something addressed in the opening scene, but it was so important to the plot that I’d rather not give away any hints about it.
Smeerensburg was a community filled with families who were feuding with each other. Their grudges were so enormous that none of the children were even sent to school lest they end up sitting next to the child of a family their parents hated. This meant that many of the young citizens of this town couldn’t read or write!
Needless to say, this wasn’t an easy assignment for Jespen. Luckily, his budding friendship with a toymaker named Klaus provided one bright spot in his new life.
Jesper was a postman who’d never actually finished postman school. He could be selfish at times, but he was also a creative and intelligent person.
Klaus was the village carpenter who made toys that no one had ever played with. He was a deeply kind and generous man.
Alva was the town fishmonger who had originally trained to be a school teacher. Since it’s hard to teach an empty classroom, she’d been forced to change occupations and was not particularly happy about it. Her biggest wish at the beginning of this film was to move somewhere far away from Smeerensburg once she’d saved up enough money.
Márgu was a Saami girl whose family lived on the outskirts of town. She did not speak English, but she did love visiting Jesper and playing with the other children.
I’m writing this review as someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas or enjoy the sentimentality of the holiday season, so what I’m about to say may come as a surprise: I loved this film!
Jesper was a wonderful protagonist. There was a lot of information about his backstory that I couldn’t include in this post for spoiler reasons, but he was a pretty well-rounded character…especially for something written for kids. I found it entertaining to see how he adjusted to life in dreary Smeerensburg. This wasn’t a cheerful place to live to say the least, and Jesper didn’t have a lot of experience in weathering unpleasant circumstances.
I also appreciated the lack of sentimentality (for the most part) in the story. Life in this community was hard for a lot of people, and the filmmakers showed as much of that as was appropriate for the age group they were marketing this towards. The fact that they managed to pull that off without including anything scary or too mature for kids to watch was impressive.
Honestly, some of the best scenes in this film were the ones that explained how the legend of Santa was formed.
For example, when and why did people first start believing that his sled was powered by flying reindeer? That question and many more were given funny, heartwarming answers that fit the tone of the plot perfectly. The photo near this paragraph gives a hint about another winter tradition that was explained in the plot, although that’s also something best left to each new viewer to discover for themselves.
A true selfless act always sparks another.
Speaking of Santa, I’m guessing you can all guess which character he was in this tale. The storyline began long before he or anyone else knew what his destiny would be. There were so many lovely hints about who he was becoming along the way. I’ve never seen a story that focused on his origins before, so it was a ton of fun to check this one out.
The quote I shared above and in the title of this post came from this character. He had a lot of wise things to say, but this was my favourite line from him. It captured the essence of this film beautifully. Smeerensburg had so many problems that fed into each other that it was hard for the people who lived there to imagine how anything could change.
I really liked the idea of focusing on small things individuals could do to make the lives of others better without expecting anything in return. That’s the sort of philosophy that I think would make the world a better place if it were followed by everyone.
There were plenty of humorous moments as well. While the message itself was a serious one, the characters had no problem cracking jokes to suit every age group. I enjoyed that mixture of serious and silly content.
This was one of those children’s films that I’d recommend just as highly to adults. Watching it was a wonderful experience.