Le Roi et l'oiseau (1980)
aka: The King and the Mockingbird
A film directed by Paul Grimault

Genre: Animation / Musical / Fantasy

Film Review

Le Roi et l'oiseau photo
Widely regarded as one of the finest animated films in cinema history, Le Roi et l'oiseau was the product of a legendary partnership between Paul Grimault and Jacques Prévert. The former was the leading animator in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, the latter was arguably the most gifted and well-known of French film screenwriters. Grimault and Prévert worked together on a number of projects but this is by far their most successful and popular collaboration (although it was completed two years after Prévert's death).

The film began life in 1949 as an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep. Before the film was completed, there was a major production dispute which resulted in both Grimault and Prévert walking away from the project. The film was completed without Grimault and was released in 1953 under the title: La Bergère et le Ramoneur. Twenty years later, Paul Grimault decided to return to the project and complete it as he had envisaged. When the film was released in 1980 as Le Roi et le oiseau, it proved to be a great success both with critics and cinema audiences. The film won the prestigious award, the Prix Louis Delluc, in 1979.

In restoring and completing the film, Grimault was scrupulously careful to retain the look and feel of the original film. Although released in 1980, the film has the authentic look of a late 1940s animated feature. This dated look contrasts strikingly with the incredibly imaginative plot, which includes some mind-blowing surreal twists and turns. The film has the charm and poetry of Andersen's original fairytale, but it offers much more in the way of entertainment, and is hilariously funny in places. face="Arial,Helvetica">

With its obvious references to brutal oppression and totalitarianism, it is not difficult to see France's World War II experiences reflected in the film. What makes the film most effective, however, is the richness of the characterisation, which is at least on a par with, if not better than, that seen in the best Disney features. The king, despite his villainy, is a rather pathetic creature for whom we have some sympathy, whilst his nemesis, the mockingbird, makes an unusual hero but one that you instantly warm to.

Whilst children the world over should love Le Roi et le oiseau, it also has great appeal to adults. The quality of the animation and wealth of imagination in the script makes it an enduring work of art which greatly surpasses the majority of animated films which have been made since. In simplest terms, Le Roi et le oiseau is a timeless classic.
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and is protected by copyright. No part of it should be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.

User Comments

Click here to display user comments or add a comment of your own


The kingdom of Takicardie quakes under the rule of the tyrannical King Charles V-et-III-font-VIII-et-VIII-font-XIV, whose favourite pastime is shooting birds...
[Read more...]

Film Credits

Directed by Paul Grimault
Starring: Jean Martin, Pascal Mazzotti, Raymond Bussières, Agnès Viala, Renaud Marx, Hubert Deschamps, Roger Blin, Philippe Derrez, Albert Médina, Claude Piéplu
[Read more...]

Related articles

2015 films
2015 film releases

Read more about the French films to be released in 2015...

1920s films
The Silent Era

Before the advent of sound France was a world leader in cinema. Find out more about this overlooked era.

1930s films
The Golden Age

Discover the best French films of the 1930s, a decade of cinematic delights...

To buy or watch this film

The film Le Roi et l'oiseau may be available on amazon via the following links:
  • amazon.co.uk
  • amazon.fr
  • amazon.com
Visit our on-line stores to browse the latest films out on DVD and books relating to cinema.
Any purchases will allow us to maintain and grow filmsdefrance.com.