French Animated Films : Le Roi & l’Oiseau (Paul Grimault, 1980)
English Titles : The King & the Mocking Bird / The Curious Adventures of Mr Wonderbird / The King & Mr Bird / Mr Bird to the Rescue / Adventures of Mr Wonderful
Plot : Atop of a dystopian city-state ruled by an egotistical monarch lives one bird, a single father of four. He arbors a personal vendetta against the tyrannical king who killed his wife during a hunting trip. One night, the paintings of his castle suddenly come alive and the king is assassinated by his own portrait who takes his place as ruler of the land. This usurper is infatuated with the portrait of a sheperdess and prompts her to marry him, on the basis that “in fairy tales, sheperdesses always marry kings.” But the sheperdess is in love with the portrait of a lowly chimney sweep, forcing the two of them to escape their paintings. All seems lost for these two lovers but the bird is taking some interest in their predicament… Their destiny will affect the fate of the whole kingdom.
Why you should watch it :
- Without a doubt the greatest french animated movie ever made, only because it was so influential on an international level. This is basically our “Snow White.” You want to study french animated films, this is the place to start.
- This music. Dear. Gods. In. Olympus. THIS. MUSIC.
- The animation and designs count amongst the most inventive you will ever see in cinema. Tons of ideas jump at you without ever seeming jumbled or out of place. Add to that the detail and care put into the drawings and you get something worthy of belonging in a museum.
- As you can guess, despite its focus on fairy tales, the film has an extremely surreal atmosphere and it’s definitely not a classical story. This works for its benefit though, since it makes it much more original and allows for a lot of poetry.
- A must-see for anyone who wants to truly understand the personnality and methods of two other giants in the field of animation : Hayao Miyazaki and Brad Bird. This film has regularly been quoted as one of their greatest artistic influence in animating movies, and it’s not difficult to see why. “The Iron Giant” is essentially an hommage to the Great Automaton featured in the climax of this movie. There’s a lot that “Laputa : Castle in the Sky” took from it as well, but it’s especially in “Lupin III : Castle of Cagliostro” that it’s most prominent. You could argue that it’s essentially a remake of “Le Roi & l’Oiseau” as an action adventure ; at some points it’s essentially copied shot for shot !