This film was never completed. Production began it in 1948, but producer André Sarrut showed the film unfinished in 1952, against Paul Grimault's wishes. This caused the production to stop. In 1967, Grimault got possession of the film and was able to complete it under a new title, _Le Roi et l'Oiseau_ (1980). See more »
As a life-long animation fan, I have to confess I had never heard of this film until stumbling on it today. Where? Well, incredibly, this is one of those films that a certain large U.S. retailer has up next to their checkout for a buck a DVD. While watching, I had the feeling, like the other reviewer here, that this film is an obscure masterpiece that has been uncovered. I hope it gains wider exposure and appreciation. The quality of the animation is smoother than that of Uncle Walt from this time, in spots. But I won't take the Disney parallel too far; the character of the animation is not only unlike Disney, but wholly one of a kind. Peter Ustinov, ever the delightful mimic and master of accents and inflections, hams the voice of Mr. Wonderbird in grand style.
The only thing left now, besides your making it out to the store to pick up this baby while you can, is to campaign the Criterion Collection, KINO or some other prestige house to restore Mr. Wonderbird to passable condition, or at least get a really clean print out on DVD. (The cheap transfer I got has the sound missing all through the credits, for the first few seconds of the film, and erupts in sound abruptly only once the title character appears from behind some stage curtains. Beyond this irritating flaw, I'll count my blessings and be thankful to have discovered this great film at all.)
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