As one of the most important animators in the history of French cinema, the films of Paul Grimault have had a lasting influence on contemporary filmmaking and animation. A specific example includes the filmmaker’s work as a cited influence of Studio Ghibli animators Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Grimault’s most important work, The King and the Mockingbird, is the product of more than 30 years of production to create what is now seen as a French classic. The film tells the story of a cruel, heartless, cross-eyed king and his secret love for a local shepherdess, whose painted portrait the king keeps and marvels at.
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep,” The King and the Mockingbird was written by Grimault and French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, who co-scripted such films as Marcel Carné’s Port of Shadows and Children of Paradise.
“[There is] a minimum of dialogue. Which is to say, if The King and the Mockingbird were to propose a mandate for animation, it would be what the medium's etymology has long suggested: to make the inanimate full of life.” – Sean Nam, Slant Magazine
“It’s a wonderful spectacle: a hugely ambitious loose adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale that’s enthralled just about every Parisian child since its first release.” – Alex Dudok de Wit, Time Out
Other than its special presentation at this year’s 52nd New York Film Festival, the film has unfortunately only been showcased in several American film festivals, despite its reputation as an animation classic in France.
Now, however, The King and the Mockingbird has a two-week North American theatrical premiere run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. New viewers of all ages can now marvel at the wondrous work of this legendary animation master. The film will be presented in two formats: for afternoon viewers, an English-dubbed version will be screened, while evening screenings will feature the orginal French dialogue with English subititles.
“The movie has finally crawled to the US, where audiences can marvel at its hand-drawn magnificence.” – Farran Smith Nehme, New York Post
“The full thing is at last restored and available and just waiting for you to gape, laugh, and cheer at it.” – Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice
The King and the Mockingbird has a two-week theatrical run at the Film Society from November 21–December 4.