"During the period 1964-69, the BBC ran the 'Tales from Europe' series of tea-time fairy tales, all of them in black-and-white, some of them created by the BBC itself but many of them coming from the East German DEFA stable. THE SINGING, RINGING TREE was for many British children, the most memorable, not just because the BBC ran it several times, but also because it was the most scary. This film has almost archetype status for many of us now in our forties. Dwarves (or should it be dwarfs?) do not get a good press in this story. The evil dwarf is a hideous, voyeuristic presence throughout much of the story. (This story is not about the Eastern bloc, but if the bear and the princess are imprisoned behind an impenetrable iron curtain, the dwarf could represent a Stasi spy.) I am sure this story influenced many of us children to look upon dwarves as malign, and that may be why this film isn't more widely available. We certainly need the likes of Tolkien to provide children with a far more positive view of dwarves.Seeing this again for the first time in more than thirty years has been almost a psychological release for me. The dwarf isn't all evil. The good-looking couple both have their individual faults. The sets aren't very well done. My 10-year-old daughter laughed when the fish turned up in the magic pool. The film has lost much of its psychic power because in comparison to today's big-budget productions, it just isn't convincing. It's just a fairy tale well told.Seeing it in gaudy colour is extraordinary. It has been well remastered, and the faltering sound quality of the music only adds to the magic.As other reviewers have said, the accompanying short film on the DVD seems an irrelevance. It carries a Tangerine Dream-like soundtrack, lasts about five minutes and appears to have been made in 1971.This is a film I absolutely had to see. The only question for me is whether I'll want to replay it again and again."
Jacqueline Hackett | 08/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are only a few tv programmes that create a truly indelible mark on your mind when you're a kid.For me,this was one of them.This is a genuinely amazing piece of work-a fairy tale with such a twisted edge that you simply cannot shake it from your mind.The print used here is gorgeous-incredibly vibrant and colourful.It was great to rediscover this film.I thought I'd never see it again."
The Singing Ringing Tree (Tales From Europe)
Mark Osborne | 01/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You have to take into account that this was broadcast when the UK only had 2 tv stations (BBC1,ITV in black and white only) and kids tv broadcastiing was only 1 1/2 hours a day.(around 1968) This was also shown in the grim (no pun intended) mid winter it was scary as hell and has stayed with me for years and thanks to Google I was able to contact others traumatised by this not fairy tale but a scary folk tale. A walk in the woods was totally different experience after a episode of tales from europe. I have problems with this, as this has stayed with me subconsciosly since I was 10 years old (a real 10 year old none of this modern fast tracking kids to adulthood) The Tinderbox Rumplestiltskin etc. It even had me on edge as a soldier in the British Army on excercise in the dark German forest on guard duty at night!During the cold war years. Guten Tag Sennelager. But still a must see! Watch in the dark in black and white with the kids hopefully they will hide behind the sofa! when it gets scary else your kids have been spoiled by the modern world! There was also debate about this on the Ken Bruce BBC radio 2 show this week ending 28/01/06 Auf wedersehen pet!
a working class boy "
The Grimm's Forgotten Fairy Tale
Jacqueline Hackett | Kununurra WA AUSTRALIA | 11/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen this movie when I was seven, I have searched for it ever since. The original story was written by the brothers Grimm in 1802 and published in their collected works in 1812. It has never reappeared in print since. The Singing Ringing Tree is a classic fairy tale of the same calibre as other popular Grimm tales... but somehow forgotten and thankfully unchanged by Disney. The 1956 movie is of course primitive in its technological aspects when considering todays special effects. However, it is true to the storyline; has wonderful costumes and colourful sets; and very little dialogue to confuse the tale.
***PS*** For customers in countries other than US and Canada This DVD is available as a UK export through the Amazon.de site. If anyone wishes to read the children's picture book by the same name (retold by Selina Hastings, 1988), it is also available through Amazon.com... however, it is severely lacking in the magic portrayed in the movie and original tale."
John Jameson-davis | England | 11/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am 49 and watched this as a child and absolutely adored it. I was amazed to see how well it has aged with regard to the special effects. The fish, the frozen water, the magical effects - all were splendidly done for their time and do not look amateurish all these years later.
The only thing which spoils it is the colour so I choose to watch it with the colour turned down on my tv set: far more mysterious and frightening, as it was when it was first shown on black and white tv.
I think, however, my phobia of dwarves comes from this period in my life. I really do have a real fear of them."