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Detail from 1977 German movie poster for The Blue Bird.

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Blue Bird

While cataloging the University Art Collection’s 509 German movie posters this summer, I came across this 1977 poster for the film The Blue Bird (released in East Germany as Der blaue Vogel). The artistic style makes this poster stand out from the others, and it is also unusual in the collection since it was designed by a woman, Roswitha Grüttner.

1977 German movie poster for The Blue BirdRoswitha Grüttner (born 1939 in Heidebreck, Germany) has worked as an artist, illustrator, and designer from the completion of her degree in design and book art in 1964. Although this poster is more representational and realistic than most of her work, it is less so than most poster illustration of the period.

The Blue Bird, a play in six acts, was first published in 1908 as L’Oiseau bleu. The playwright, Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), went to a Jesuit school as a child, where he smuggled poetry books into the school grounds.

People have connected The Blue Bird to socialist ideology, and evidence from Maeterlinck’s other writings suggests that he may have done so as well. The connection between this passage and parts of The Blue Bird is not difficult to draw. At the beginning of the play, siblings Mytyl and Tyltyl look enviously out of their window into the house of the rich children who live next door. Mytyl complains that it isn’t fair for her family to go hungry while others have more than enough to eat. After a dream adventure in search of the Blue Bird of Happiness, they return home to discover that the Blue Bird was in their own backyard the entire time. They unhesitatingly give it to their neighbor’s sick daughter, and learn to be content with what they have.

--Isabelle Raposo, 2018 University Art Collection Summer Intern from Wellesley College

August 14, 2018