The Star Prince (1918)

MADELINE BRANDEIS

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

USA, 1918. . Screenplay by Madeline Brandeis

Madeline Brandeis was a popular author of fairy tales who accompanied her literary output with a children’s theatre group and moved into filmmaking as well, producing a series of fantasies and directing only this one feature before her tragic death in a car accident at the age of 39. An entire cast of children perform this tale of a poor farmer and his wife who are blessed with another mouth to feed when a baby is found in the woods. The child grows up being told that he is a prince who fell from a star and it makes him a proud snob, boasting of his royal origins and setting himself apart from his lowly peers. When his true mother comes to claim him and he sees her dressed in dirty rags, he refuses to acknowledge her, inspiring his fairy godmother to disfigure his face. He has an epiphany and, now ashamed of his former obnoxious self, he seeks out his mother to beg her forgiveness, then travels to his kingdom’s palace where he must also save the princess from marrying an evil dwarf (who, thanks to an interesting choice, is actually taller than the rest of the kids in the cast). Brandeis includes some sweet visual innovations in her creation of a fairy land where magic is real, though her young stars lack nuance in their performances and watching them play pretend gets a bit wearing after a while.

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