King of Hearts
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Top Customer Reviews
Quelle Surprise! This DVD version has, without fanfare, at least two entirely new scenes in the film that I have never seen before (and I first saw this in 1977).Read more ›
By now, we're all familiar with the idea that war is itself insane. We've all been exposed to the idea that insanity may be a higher form of sanity. What's magical about this film is that it communicates these ideas with such charm and such finesse. I can't imagine that anybody could avoid falling in love with the inmates as they take over the town once it's abandoned.
Alan Bates is superb as the gentle yet dutiful Plumpick. A very young Genevieve Bujold is absolutely wonderful as the innocent Coquelicot. I rarely notice the music in a film, but in The King of Hearts it plays a pivotal role in establishing the mood, and accompanying the action. It is also fine music in its own right.
This could have been an earnest anti-war film heavy-handedly stating its moral (remember the movie made of Catch-22?). The direction, the music, and the performances of all the actors (Alan Bates and Genevieve Bujold are the only names that I recognize, but there isn't a weak performance here), though, lift this far above that level and make it a masterpiece that has stood the test of time well.
When Alan Bates tells an impossibly young Genevieve Bujold, (divine sylph in yellow ballerina finery), that they have only three minutes to live, her response is, "That's great! Such a long time."
King Of Hearts has a whimsical way of tossing cherished assumptions into a cocked hat that succeeds brilliantly. This treasure has only gotten better with time; it delights the eye, the ear, the mind, the funny bone, and the heart.
One could easily enjoy KOH with the sound off, no small French village has ever looked more picturesque, or been populated by more visually appealing citizens. Fellini admirers will find the surrealistic parades familiar; they dance on the surface of reality like bubbles in the sun. Director Philippe de Broca created these film paintings without irony; their fragile magic is simply superimposed on top of the dumb, grim, WWI setting.
Factoring in the superb Georges Delerue score gives you a long succession of movie moments that are poignant at least, and sometimes truly haunting in their beauty. Alan Bates carries the film with a seemingly effortless performance; he makes the familiar look ludicrous and the bizarre seem totally reasonable. On many levels this is a very silly movie that never could work without such a reasoned, level performance.
KOH has really been damaged by over-analysis. It is an enchanting, light-hearted comedy that casts a very particular spell. It is not a daring, bare-knuckled indictment of war, (although it would be hard to miss its anti-war position). It is also not a manifesto proclaiming the wisdom inherent in mental illness.Read more ›
The inmates wander into the town and assume various roles, from the barber to the mayor. The inmates do this so convincingly that the young corporal who is sent to warn them of the approaching Germans at first can't tell the difference, which becomes a metaphor for the real question in the move, which is, who is really crazier: the inmates, or the "normal" people and soldiers fighting the war?
Unfortunately, the young corporal is unable to avert the confrontation between the British and German companies who march into town, and when the other British troops arrive, the inmates realize it's time for them to go back to their former home in the asylum.
I didn't know most of the cast, except for Adolpho Celi (I recognized him as the heavy from an early Jame Bond movie), Alan Bates and Genevieve Bujold, but I thought all the performances were superb, especially Jean-Claude Brialy, who played the mayer, Pierre Brasseur, who played General Geranium, and the barber (unfortunately I don't recall his real name. Overall, a great movie and a brilliantly witty satire and stinging indictment of the futility and absurdity of war.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fun Movie. Watch it. Crazy people know more about not doing war than the rest of us.Published 5 months ago by the_IRF
I saw this in High School in early the 70's, and have loved it forever. I was so happy to find it, even if it was only in VHS. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Wendy
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