Three years before Richard Attenborough’s movie version of Oh! What a Lovely War there was this anti-war satire, set in 1918, now on rerelease – Philippe de Broca’s King of Hearts. Regarded by many, including its director, as a classic, it nonetheless flopped hard at the box office. Watching it again now, I find myself not quite able to hail it as a masterpiece, more of an engaging and contrived oddity – like a U-certificate Marat/Sade – exoticised by the spectacle of non-English-speaking actors dubbed in order to play Scottish soldiers.
Just before the end of the first world war, the German forces retreat from a French town but booby-trap it with a bomb timed to go off at midnight. The inhabitants flee in panic and the patients of a local