Reviews | Written by Robert Martin 13/10/2021

THE SINGING RINGING TREE (1957)

If you’re of a certain age, early TV memories are sure to feature this strange German folk tale, based on an obscure story by the Brothers Grimm and is a variation on  Beauty and the Beast.

A handsome prince is shunned by the beautiful princess he hopes to marry. She will not even consider him until he brings her the fabled singing ringing tree. Located in a magical garden but guarded by an evil dwarf, the tree will only ring out when true love is found and, because he has failed on his quest, the prince is turned into an ugly bear. But when the vain princess is also cast out into the magical garden, can she learn to look beyond material wealth and physical good looks and see how much inner beauty really matters?

It’s a fairy story so what do you think?

With not the most sophisticated plot ever devised, this charming, delightfully produced piece of nostalgia from 1957 East Germany was first brought to UK screens by the BBC in 1964, cut into three separate parts. It was so popular that it was often repeated right up to 1980, embedding itself into the memories of a generation.

Now regarded as a classic, it’s easy to see why. Despite some iffy political incorrectness, it harks back to simpler times, a capsule of childhoods lived pre-Star Wars, pre-video games, pre irony.

The sets, costumes and effects are beautiful, the characters, despite the stereotyping, are wonderfully played and the overall effect is, indeed, magical.

Extras are slight but the best of them is an interview from an unknown date, perhaps around the late '90s, with the actor who played the princess, Christel Bodenstein, talking lovingly about her experience.

Sometimes you watch something beloved from your childhood and it’s a bit of a disappointment, but The Singing Ringing Tree continues to shine.