This movie scared me to death when I was little, and may have something to do with my fear of excess. I do not remember it as a wholesome children's movie, but as a dissection of the darkest parts of human nature bathed in the sinister light of 1970's film-making, for some reason made into a children's movie.
SCENE 2. The Palace of Happiness.
When the curtain of clouds opens, the stage represents, in the forefront of the palace, a sort of hall formed of tall marble columns, between which hang heavy purple draperies, supported by golden ropes and concealing all the background. The architecture suggests the most sensual and sumptuous moments of the Venetian or Flemish Renascence, as seen in the pictures
of Veronese or Rubens, with garlands, horns of plenty, fringes, vases, statues, gildings, lavishly distributed on every side. In the middle stands a massive and marvelous table of jasper and silver-gilt, laden with candlesticks, glass, gold and silver plate and fabulous viands. Around the table, the biggest luxuries of the Earth sit eating, drinking, shouting, singing, tossing and lolling about or sleeping among the haunches of venison, the miraculous fruits, the overturned jars and ewers. They are enormously, incredibly fat and red in the face, covered with velvet and
brocade, crowned with gold and pearls and precious stones. Beautiful female slaves incessantly bring decorated dishes and foaming beverages. Vulgar, blatantly hilarious music, in which the brasses predominate. The stage is bathed in a red and heavy light.
(TYLTYL, MYTYL, _the_ DOG, BREAD _and_ SUGAR _are a little
awestruck at first end crowd round_ LIGHT _in the foreground, to the right. The_ CAT, _without a word, walks to the background, also to the right, lifts a dark curtain and disappears_.)
Who are those fat gentlemen enjoying themselves and eating such a lot of good things?
They are the biggest Luxuries of the Earth, the ones that can be seen with the naked eye. It is possible, though not very likely, that the Blue Bird may have strayed among them for a moment. That is why you must not turn the diamond yet. For form's sake, we will begin by searching this part of the hall.
Can we go up to them?
Certainly. They are not ill-natured, although they are vulgar and usually rather ill-bred.
What beautiful cakes they have!....
And such game! And sausages! And legs of lamb and calves' liver!... There is nothing nicer or lovelier in the world than liver!...
Except quartern-loaves made of fine white flour! They have splendid ones!... How lovely they are! How lovely they are!...
I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon, I beg a thousand pardons.... Allow me, allow me.... I would not like to hurt anybody's feelings; but are you not forgetting the sweetmeats, which form the glory of that table and which, if I may say so, surpass in grandeur and magnificence all that exists in this hall, or perhaps anywhere else?...
How pleased and happy they look!... And they are shouting! And laughing! And singing!... I believe they have seen us....
(_A dozen of the biggest_ LUXURIES _have risen from table and now, holding their stomachs in their hands, advance laboriously towards the_ CHILDREN.)
Have no fear, they are very affable.... They will probably invite you to dinner.... Do not accept, do not accept anything, lest you should forget your mission....
What? Not even a tiny cake? They look so good, so fresh, so well iced with sugar, covered with candied fruits and brimming over with cream!...
They are dangerous and would break your will. A man should know how to sacrifice something to the duty he is performing. Refuse politely, but firmly.
THE BIGGEST OF THE LUXURIES (_holding out his hand to_ TYLTYL)
How do you do, Tyltyl?...
Why, do you know me?... Who are you?...
I am the biggest of the Luxuries, the Luxury of Being Rich; and I come, in the name of my brothers, to beg you and your family to honour our endless repast with your presence. You will find yourself surrounded by all that is best among the real, big Luxuries of this Earth. Allow me to introduce to you the chief of them. Here is my son-in-law, the Luxury of Being a Landowner, who has a stomach shaped like a pear. This is the Luxury of Satisfied Vanity, who has such a nice, puffy face, (_The_ LUXURY OF SATISFIED VANITY _gives a patronising nod_.) These are the Luxury of Drinking when you are not Thirsty and the Luxury of Eating when you are not Hungry: they are twins and their legs are made of macaroni. (_They bow, staggering_.) Here are the Luxury of Knowing Nothing, who is as deaf as a post, and the Luxury of Understanding Nothing, who is as blind as a bat. Here are the Luxury of Doing Nothing and the Luxury of Sleeping more
than Necessary: their hands are made of bread-crumb and their eyes of peach-jelly. Lastly, here is Fat Laughter: his mouth is split from ear to ear and he is irresistible....
(FAT LAUGHTER _bows, writhing and holding his sides_.)
TYLTYL (_pointing to a_ LUXURY _who is standing a little on one side_)
And who is that one, who dares not come up to us and who is turning his back?...
THE LUXURY OF BEING RICH
Do not ask about him: he is a little awkward and is not fit to be
introduced to children.... (_Seizing_ TYLTYL'S _hands_) But come
along! They are beginning the banquet all over again.... It is the twelfth time since this morning. We are only waiting for you.... Do you hear all the revellers calling and shouting for you?... I cannot introduce you to all of them, there are so many of them....(_Offering his arm to the two children_) Allow me to lead you to the two seats of honour....
No, thank you very much, Mr. Luxury.... I am so sorry.... I can't come for the moment.... We are in a great hurry, we are looking for the Blue Bird. You don't happen to know, I suppose, where he is hiding?
The Blue Bird?... Wait a bit.... Yes, I remember.... Some one was telling me about him the other day.... He is a bird, that is not good to eat, I believe.... At any rate, he has never figured on our table.... That means that we have a poor opinion of him. But don't trouble; we have much better things.... You shall share our life, you shall see all that we do....
What do you do?
Why, we occupy ourselves incessantly in doing nothing.... We never have a moment's rest.... We have to drink, we have to eat, we have to sleep. It's most engrossing....
Is it amusing?
Why, yes.... It needs must be; it's all there is on this Earth....
Do you think so?...
THE LUXURY (_pointing to_ LIGHT, _aside, to_ TYLTYL)
Who is that ill-bred young person?...
(_During the whole of the preceding conversation a crowd of_ LUXURIES_of the second order have been busying themselves with the_ DOG, SUGAR _and_ BREAD _and have dragged them to the orgie_. TYLTYL_suddenly sees them seated fraternally at the table with their hosts, eating, drinking and flinging themselves about wildly_.)
Why, look, Light!... They are sitting at the table!...
Call them back, or this will have a bad end!...
Tylô!... Here, Tylô!... Come here at once, will you? Do you hear?... And you too, Sugar and Bread, who told you to leave me?... What are you doing there, without permission?
BREAD (_speaking with his mouth full_)
Can't you keep a civil tongue in your mouth?...
What? Is Bread daring to be impertinent?... Why, what's come over you?...And you, Tylô?... Is that the way you obey? Now then, come here, on your knees, on your knees!... And look sharp!...
THE DOG (_muttering, from the end of the table_)
When I'm eating, I'm at home to nobody and I hear nothing....
Pardon us, we could not possibly leave such charming hosts so abruptly: they would be offended....
You see!... They are setting you an example.... Come, we are waiting for you.... We won't hear of a refusal.... We shall have to resort to a gentle iolence.... Come, you Luxuries, help me!... Let us push them to the table y force, so that they may be happy in spite of themselves!... (_All the_ LUXURIES, _uttering cries of joy and skipping about as nimbly as they are able, drag the_ CHILDREN, _who struggle, while_ FAT LAUGHTER _seizes_ LIGHT _vigorously round the waist_.)
Turn the diamond, it is time!...
(TYLTYL _obeys_ LIGHT'S _order. Forthwith, the stage is lit up with an ineffably pure, divinely roseate, harmonious and ethereal brightness. The heavy ornaments in the foreground, the thick red hangings become unfastened and disappear, revealing an immense and magnificent hall, a sort of cathedral of gladness and serenity, tall, innocent and almost transparent, whose endless fabric rests upon innumerous long and slender, limpid and blissful columns, suggesting the architecture of the Palladian churches or certain drawings by Carpaccio, notably the "Presentation of the
Virgin" in the Uffizi Gallery. The table of the orgie melts away without leaving a trace; the velvets, the brocades, the garlands of the_LUXURIES _rise before the luminous gust that invades the temple tear asunder and fall, together with the grinning masks, at the feet of the astounded revellers. These become visibly deflated, like burst bladders, exchange glances, blink their eyes in the unknown rays that hurt them; and, seeing themselves at last as they really are, that is to say, naked, hideous, flabby and lamentable, they begin to utter yells of shame and dismay, amid which those of_ FAT LAUGHTER _are clearly distinguishable
above all the rest. The_ LUXURY OF UNDERSTANDING NOTHING _alone remains perfectly calm, while his friends rush about madly, trying to flee, to hide themselves in corners which they hope to find dark. But there is not a shadow left in the dazzling room. And so the majority, in their despair, decide to pass through the threatening curtain which, in an angle on the right, closes the vault of the Cave of Miseries. Each time that one of them, in his panic, raises a skirt of the curtain, a storm of oaths,
imprecations and maledictions is heard to issue from the hollow depths of the cave. As for the_ DOG, BREAD _and_ SUGAR, _they hang their heads, join the group of the_ CHILDREN _and hide behind them very sheepishly_.)