The King and The Mockingbird ( Le roi et l'oiseau)

Dir: Paul Grimault

France 1980

83 mins Cert: U (UK)

Language: English

Widely considered one of the best animated features of all time, and certainly a masterpiece of French animation, the Prix Louis Delluc-winning The King and the Mockingbird (Le Roi et l’Oiseau) has been cited by Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata as a profound influence on their work (an influence most notable in Miyazaki’s 1979 The Castle of Cagliostro, as in both films a castle stretches up to the sky).

A collaboration between director Paul Grimault and French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, it’s adapted from a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson about a tyrannical King ruling over the kingdom of Takicardia. Viewed with fear by his subjects, it’s only the spirited, brightly feathered Mr Bird who, from his nest near the King’s secret chambers in his gigantic palace, dares to make fun of him.

The King is in love with a beautiful shepherdess in a painting on his wall, but she is in love with a chimneysweep from another artwork. At night the paintings come to life, and together they attempt to flee. Hiding at the top of the palace, they help Mr Bird who’s become caught up in one of the King’s cruel traps, before leading the police on a wild chase...

It’s a story told with wit, imagination and a piquant charm, with quite beautifully realised animation, and rich with cultural references (to Parisian and Venetian architecture, surrealist artists such as di Chirico and Magritte, Metropolis, King Kong and Tintin amongst countless others). The result is a perfect union of narrative and imagery which fully explains its inspiration for Studio Ghibli.

The biggest re-release of 2013 in France, it made over 900,000 euros at the box office. Suitable for children of all ages and adults who enjoy their animation packed full of ideas and wonder. - Independent Cinema Office