Since I started this blog nearly a year ago, numerous people have asked me about the Singing Ringing Tree (Das Singende Klingende Baumchen) and was it an influence on the naming of this site. Well, no it wasn’t. I was warned the Singing Ringing tree was disturbing in a David Lynch kind of way. Well, that was no deterrent. Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart are brilliant films. At uni, I took an elective module to study film. One of the assignments was to apply a Freudian analysis of the Uncanny. I based mine on Eraserhead, a very disturbing film, weird and compelling. So, The Singing Ringing Tree was allegedly that disturbing and was a kids’ tea time programme??! I was intrigued. When I saw it was available on DVD AND as cheap as chips, I ordered it and gave it a good watching.
What can I say? I wasn’t disturbed. I found it charming. Utterly charming. The production itself was a little dated and, ahem, not as lavish, shall we say, as it could have been.
It centres on a prince seeking the hand of the local Princess in marriage. The Princess is the stereotypical brat and sends him off on a Fool’s Errand – fetch the Singing Ringing Tree. The cast of tens (as my partner snarkily commented) were shaken to their boots at this outrageous demand! It’s impossible! It cannot be found! It’s halfway across the world (that is, the known world at the time which was obviously shorter than from here to the library and back).
Away rides the prince, galloping past watercoloured backdrops and chocolate muffin mountains, and stops to ask a man looking uncannily like the ‘need a number nifty? Dial 11850’ man pruning trees… he didn’t know, he asked a ‘herb lady’ and she didn’t know … and then… having travelled half way across the world, meets a third person, a dwarf ( looking very like the love child of Peter Cook and Frankie Howard) who DOES know.
He is prepared to give him the tree providing that by sundown he has both delivered the tree and the tree has sung! The singing of the tree, is, in addition, conditional upon the princess falling in love with him! He jokes ‘May I turn into a bear if that is not so!’ We’ve all seen enough of these wish fulfillment type fairytales to know what happens next…
Yes… he delivers the tree, Princess Bridezilla doesn’t want it and the prince returns to the kingdom of the dwarf and duly turns into a big brown bear – well, a bear outfit covered in what looked like hedgehog prickles. He can only be freed if the princess falls in love with him in the kindgom of the dwarf! The dwarf is the embodiment of Schadenfreude and delights in every misfortune and unhappiness of the bear. Especially when he cries and wipes his tears away with his plastic-clawed paw attachments.
Meanwhile, back at the palace where no expense has been….. the king (looking like a proper mathematician in a thick wooly beard, sufficiently thick and long enough to hide at least one albatross, a slide rule and a set of compasses) has been sent to find the prince and bring the singing tree back to fickle and fey Bridezilla who has changed her mind and now wants it.
The king meets the bear and the bear agrees to giving him the tree providing that in return, the king gives him the person who meets him first on his return… (guesses on a postcard please).
The princess, back at the palace, is cruel to the palace doves, the palace goldfish and every other animal and person generally. She sees the king coming and rushes to meet him – making her the currency of exchange.
Cutting it short a bit here… she ends up back at the kingdom of the dwarf with the bear. The dwarf turns her hair green (haven’t we all done this with a home colouring kit at some point?) and makes her ugly in a nose-like-a-pickled-gherkin sort of way. She learns to treat animals of the dwarf kingdom with care and tenderness and gets a little less ugly with every act of kindness she performs.
The dwarf is beside himself with rage at how well they are getting along and throws all sorts of mischief their way. One big advantage is that the dwarf has an absolute abundance of magic dust that can be swept, blown and brushed about to turn anything into stone, stir up violent storms, freeze water to ice in a matter of moments, etc. The usual sort of fairytale magic dust/warped dwarf evil imagination type of thing.
Anyhow, the dwarf really is a nasty little bugger (makes the toilet germs you see in Domestos ads look attractive) but her new animal friends come to her aid and save every situation. Eventually, the tree sings, the bear turns into a prince and they get married. It all ends happily ever after as all the best fairy tales do. The prince tells the princess that ‘No evil can match the good magic of kindness’. Well said. Take care to plant only thoughts of good in your mind for your thoughts become words and your words are your wand.
Both my partner and I are very much animal lovers. Even spiders. I’m not keen on woodlice, however, but still helped one onto its legions of legs when I found it on its back in the conservatory the other morning.
I have found a couple of beauuutiful words/phrases to share with you! Both German:
Dunkle Stoffe – dark fabric (as seen on the side of a tub of fabric paint). Somehow, the prospect of all that unseen dark matter in space sounds so much friendlier if you think of it as lots of dunkle stoffe.
And, how about this most lovely word?! Morgenmuffel??? Isn’t is sweet? It means a person who is grumpy in the morning! I am not (usually) a morgenmuffel but have known a few morgenmuffels in my time.