Liz’s Review: ‘THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD’ is a classic brought back to life

The King and the Mockingbird Poster_Rialto

When I was a child I revelled in my mother and father reading bedtime stories.  I grew up on classic Disney fairytales and Tom & Jerry reruns. As an adult, nothing makes me happier than reliving those moments and sharing that joy with the next generation. At this year’s New York Film Festival, I was treated to a film that has been around for ages, but for me was a brand new tale to pass down.

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THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD has been locked away, of sorts, for so many years. But now, after so much anticipation, we are finally lucky enough to experience this Grimault and Prévert classic in the all its treasured glory. The film is a bit of a wonder, crossing genres. Appearing on the surface as a story about a greedy king who always gets his way and transforming into a circus of delicious characters. Some of which don’t even seem to belong in the same film. And I wholeheartedly mean that as a compliment!

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The  sweet spot of great storytelling transcends language. This is a truly a morality tale at heart. Gorgeous characters like the Chimney Sweep and the Shepherdess will steal your heart with their romance. Zoo animals that dance, the bumbling King’s guards, his floppy-eared puppy, and the scene and heart stealing title character; The Mockingbird. This film is engaging and so stylistically unique that you cannot help but sit up and take notice. It’s retro-future vibe is incredibly clever and unexpected. Plenty of twists and turns to keep the attention of any audience member.

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With new music and a complete and masterful restoration,  THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD is a timeless classic. It is perfect for children and adults alike.  The magic on the screen will transport you to your own childhood and is sure to put a smile on your face.

Paul Grimault’s THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD, written by Grimault and legendary poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert, will be released by Rialto Pictures in a new restoration from Studiocanal, following its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival in October. Theatrical release is slated for Friday, November 21, when it will open at Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, followed by a Los Angeles (Laemmle Theatres , December 19) and national rollout.

Based on a Hans Christian Andersen story, the wildly satirical THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD follows a chimney sweep and shepherdess on the run from a tyrannical king. A masterpiece of traditional hand-drawn cell animation, THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRDis credited by celebrated Japanese animators Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata as inspiring the creation of their own studio, the now world-famous Studio Ghibli. Its influence can also be felt in such films as Brad Bird’s THE IRON GIANT.

Grimault and Prévert (Children of Paradise, Port of Shadows, Le Jour se Lève) started work on MOCKINGBIRD in 1947, when it was planned to be France’s first animated feature. A dispute stopped production, however, and it was released unfinished by its producer, without Grimault and Prévert’s permission. Grimault spent 10 years getting the rights back and another 20 raising the money to finish the film as he and Prévert had envisaged it. It was finally finished and released in 1979, a few weeks after Prévert’s death. Though it has been a favorite of French audiences for 35 years, it has long been unavailable in the U.S. due to rights issues.

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About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

One Reply to “Liz’s Review: ‘THE KING AND THE MOCKINGBIRD’ is a classic brought back to life”

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