The diminutive, despotic ruler of the kingdom of Takicardia is unloved in his nation. Unbeknownst to him, at night while he sleeps the portraits hanging in his palace come to life and a magical netherworld unfolds.
This French cartoon film, which originated in the ’40s but wasn’t finished until 1980, may appeal most to adult fans of vintage animation. It’s an intermittently brilliant fairy tale about a wicked king, his mountain-sized palace and a bluff mockingbird which protects two children. There’s beautiful visual and verbal comedy, and the film has the creative spontaneity of a dream, foreshadowing Spirited Away (it influenced Miyazaki). However, the lack of momentum and focus may end up boring children, while the English dub actors sound a little stilted. Some of the screenings will be in French with subtitles.
Its dreamlike mood and magical spirit runs through Studio Ghibli but its deliberately squiffy structure makes it less likely to chime with younger viewers.