Several months ago I was in Sremski Karlovci (near Novi Sad, Serbia) on a weekend break. Whilst waiting for K to get ready to go out filming, I was flicking through TV channels and came across an amazing animated film on B92 TV called “Le Roi et l’Oiseau” or “The King and the Mockingbird”.
Beautifully drawn, with a dreamy futuristic atmosphere (the Bowler hatted police reminded me of A Clockwork Orange) and a classic story, this is definitely one to see.
“Le Roi et L’Oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird) is one of the true classics of animation in France, and although its renown and popularity haven’t made it across to this side of the channel, it has been a source of inspiration to many of the current generation of Japanese animators. Scripted by the celebrated poet, Jacques Prévert (who also scripted Quai de Brumes and Les Enfants du Paradis), designed by the master of French animation, Paul Grimault, based on a story by Hans Christian Anderson, Le Roi et L’Oiseau’s credentials are impeccable and its reputation unassailable.
Originally conceived and created as a short animated adaptation of Anderson’s ‘The Shepherdess and The Chimney Sweep’ in 1952, the film was never finished by Grimault. He bought back the rights to the original print of his work twenty years later and collaborated again with Prévert interweaving Anderson’s story into a new creation, Le Roi et L’Oiseau. Working again with his old team of animators and a group of brilliant young animators, new sequences were added, each of the animators feeding of the others’ experience and freshness, contributing to create a classic of modern animation.” MORE
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. MORE
You can download it (legally) from the Internet Archive.
More links via Wikipedia.