Quickly paced and oozing with visual ingenuity, The King and the Mockingbird is an off-kilter but enormously enjoyable passion project whose stance as the vanguard of gorgeous, purely hand-drawn animation is as notable as its notorious production.
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The director invites us in, to play and dream.
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.
In its humor, its fairy tale origins and the characters’ rounded features, it plays more like a vintage Disney work, only nimbler and freer.
The surreal images, offbeat jokes and pointed human-rights allegory make this an altogether different experience from most American animation. It’s dreamy, poetic and not to be missed.
A masterpiece of animation and imagination.
It's a richly conceived treat.
If the film were to propose a mandate for animation, it would be what the medium's etymology has longed suggested: to make the inanimate full of life.
Seen today, The King And The Mockingbird doesn’t have the tight pacing or propulsive narrative of modern animated stories, or the consistency of a film made to a specific house style. It’s recognizably the work of an idiosyncratic artist dealing in bizarre caricature, and exploring weird ideas... But its visual design and movement are striking, and its story beats are intriguingly unpredictable.