Western Animation / The King and the Mockingbird

A classic French animated film (French title: Le Roi et l'oiseau) directed by Paul Grimault, with one of the longest development times in animation history; even longer than The Thief and the Cobbler.note 

King Charles thenote  Sixteenth, ruler of Tachycardia, is a spiteful and vain bully whose life's passion is hunting - not that he's particularly good at it, owing to being crosseyed. His greatest foe is the titular Mockingbird, who seeks revenge on the king for killing his wife while hunting, and who mocks him at every turn. When the king falls in love with a portrait of a beautiful shepherdess, the mockingbird seizes on the chance to overthrow the cruel monarch once and for all.

The film is dedicated to its script writer Jacques Prevert, who died in 1977 before it was fully finished. It is considered a major inspiration by Hayao Miyazaki.

The 1952 release has entered the public domain and can be viewed on the Web Archive.


Tropes related to the film:

  • 0% Approval Rating: King Charles; "He detested everyone, and everyone in the kingdom detested him."
  • Adaptation Expansion: For Hans Christian Andersen's The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep, which was notably lacking in the giant robot department.
  • Adaptational Badass: The shepherdess. In the original fairy tale the shepherdess was terrified of the outside and insisted on going back inside the house. Here she's eager to escape and see the world.
  • Animal Talk: At first, the mockingbird roars to speak to the lions, then talks to them so the viewers understand.
  • Art Initiates Life: Three paintings and one statue come to life over the course of the film, but after a little while the film seems to forget this and just treats them like real people.
  • Art Shift:
    • The lions seem to shift between at least three different models.
    • The Chimney Sweep and Shepherdess are drawn in a more idealized, realistic style, while everyone and everything else is caricatured
  • Bad Boss: King Charles
  • The Beast Master: The blind man.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The mockingbird starts helping the couple after the chimney sweep rescues one of his children from a trap.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Real King Charles.
  • Bishōnen: The Chimney Sweep.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The city and palace are filled with impossibly long staircases and towers.
  • Blow You Away: The robot's mouth contains a turbofan which is used to give the king a Disney Villain Death.
  • The Caligula: King Charles.
  • Camp Straight: The king and his court has some rather ambiguous mannerisms.
  • Commedia dell'Arte: The Sheperdess and the Chimney Sweep are the Lovers, King Charles is the Captain, the mockingbird is Arlecchino and the blind man is Pierrot.
  • Crusading Widower: The mockingbird.
  • Cult of Personality: King Charles has lots of statues of himself around the castle, including an assembly line making more of them.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Mockingbird plays this role for the couple, coming to their rescue whenever they call on him. Subverted the third time they call on him, since he's in prison right alongside them.
  • Disney Villain Death: An interesting variation as it's an horizontal one.
  • Distracted By The Shiny: At one point the Mockingbird distracts the king from the couple by having his fellow birds form a flattering portrait of him.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The real King Charles and the police chief.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: King Charles and the blind man.
  • Evil Twin: Well, even more evil than the original.
  • Faux Affably Evil: King Charles' portrait.
  • Guile Hero: The mockingbird.
  • Humans Are Flawed: An incredibly subtle example. Notice how the portrait characters are idealized in comparison to the comically portrayed humans? This is especially evident with the bumbling King Charles and his dangerously competent self-portrait.
  • Humongous Mecha: King Charles chases the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep through the lower city with a giant robot. One of the earliest known Animated Films to depict a giant robot.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: King Charles. Justified due to him being cross-eyed.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: You wouldn't expect a giant robot to show up in a story written by Jacques Prévert (and based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale to boot), but there it is anyway.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Sported by both the shepherdess and chimney sweep.
  • Kick the Dog: A bad habit of King Charles (averted with his actual dog).
  • Knight of Cerebus: Arguably, King Charles's self portrait, who lacks the cross-eyes and is more cool-headed than the original when he replaces him.
  • Large Ham: The mockingbird.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Turns out that feeding the blind man to the lions wasn't such a great idea.
  • Malevolent Mugshot: King Charles puts his portrait everywhere in the upper city. Everywhere.
  • Motifs: Observant viewers will notice the imprisonment motif prevalent throughout the film.
    • The entire film takes place in King Charles' castle: no one except the mockingbird is shown to leave the place until it's finally torn down.
    • King Charles is established as a(n incompetent) hunter, and has a museum dedicated to sculptures of his supposed exploits. His self portrait hunts for the Sheperdress and the Chimney Sweep throughout the castle; the latter two even find themselves in the museum.
    • Various animals are locked up in cages: the monkeys in the zoo, the big cats and bears in the dungeon; etc. Even the mockingbird's home resembles a bird cage.
    • One of the mockingbird's children, a yellow bird, repeatedly finds himself entrapped in the same yellow cage. The final scene is the giant robot freeing the bird from the cage, and smashing it once and for all.
  • Nice Hat: Several characters including the mockingbird, the Sheperdess and King Charles' portrait.
    • The mockingbird later switches his for the robot pilot's hat.
    • The bowler-hatted police.
  • No Endor Holocaust: The giant robot reduces the entire city and castle to rubble in the ending. Apart from a few shots of people running away from the wreckage it's just taken for granted that everyone, including the poverty-stricken Lower City citizens, got out alive.
  • No Name Given: The Mockingbird, Shepherdess and Chimney Sweep are never referred to as anything but that.
  • Off Model: Due to the long span between the films start and finish, old and new animation is used to mix the film together. One obvious example is the scene with the lions, where they change appearance between cuts!
  • Overly-Long Elevator Gag: King Charles has a ridiculously long elevator, with an attendant listing off every floor.
  • Overly Long Name: King Charles 5 and 3 make 8 and 8 make 16th of Tachycardia.
  • Papa Wolf: The mockingbird, due to his wife being killed by the king.
  • Revised Ending: The film was originally released in 1952 before it was completed, with a standard Happily Ever After ending. The completed 1980 version replaced it with a more symbolic ending where one of the baby birds is locked in a cage and is freed by the giant robot.
  • Running Gag: The yellow chick getting caught in a trap (even after the climax).
  • Scenery Porn: The locations are absolutely gorgeous, sometimes being reminiscent of Chirico's or Magritte's paintings. Additionally, the lower city appears to be a Shout-Out to Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
  • Schizo Tech: The King's castle is loaded full of weird mechanical gadgetry. And that's not even counting the giant robot.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: The mockingbird initially acts more like a Troll to King Charles until the Sheperdess and the Chimney Sweep are involved but then, it's not real King Charles anymore.
  • Spanner in the Works: When the Chimney Sweep and the mockingbird are forcibly put into service painting bust sculptures of the King, they deliberately paint them wrong in order to be sent to the lions' arena, where they plot an escape.
  • State Sec: The police, though they're about as efficient as Thompson and Thomson.
  • Starter Villain: Real King Charles, who arguably doubles as a Villain Protagonist for the movie's first minutes.
  • Talking Animal: The mockingbird.
  • Trap Door: Exaggerated, King Charles can open a Trap Door absolutely anywhere in the entire upper city; they even fit the size of whoever he wants to get rid of. At some point a trap door goes as far as actively pursuing its target through the room!
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: A lot of the references and satire might go over the heads of non-French viewers, as well as viewers not versed in art and architectural history.
  • Villainous Crush: King Charles's portrait with the Sheperdess.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: Supplied by the mockingbird.
  • Walking Spoiler: There are actually two King Charles: the real one who's smug but clearly incompetent, and the self-portrait that replaces him and actually backs up his pride.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The robot is controlled from a tiny windowless compartment in its back (the pilot can't even see what's happening in front).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: This happens to everyone that King Charles drops down a hole most notably King Charles himself, who is dropped down a hole by a painting of him who comes to life, assumes his role, and is treated as if he was the king from that point onward. Also, King Charles's dog.
  • Your Size May Vary: All over the place, fitting the surreal nature of the film.
    • Either the robot grows in size after destroying the city, or it was reduced to very fine rubble.
    • The chimney sweep and shepherdess start out smaller than the Mockingbird, but are regular-sized humans by the end.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/TheKingAndTheMockingbird