The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird


A chimney sweep and his beloved shepherdess are aided by Wonderbird in their escape from a ruthless dictator.

Le Roi et l'oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird, sometimes rendered The King and the Mocking Bird, literally The King and the Bird) is a 1980 in film traditional animation feature film directed by Paul Grimault. Begun in 1948 in film as The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep (loosely based on the The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep by Hans Christian Andersen), the film was a collaboration between Grimault and popular French poet and screenwriter, Jacques Prévert. However the film suddenly stopped production and was released unfinished by its producer, without the approval of either Grimault or Prévert. Through the course of the 1960s and 1970s, Grimault obtained the rights to the film and was able to complete a new version they originally intended and was finished over 30 years after it was started.
The film is by some today regarded as a masterpiece of French animation and has been cited by the Japanese directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata as an influence. The film has had poor availability in English. , the completed version of the film has not been released in North America on home video, however the first English-friendly release was made in October 2013 in the United Kingdom; Previously, the film had been often shared by animation fans online. A low-budget English-language release of the 1952 version, dubbed The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird, is in the public domain and available for free online. In that version, Peter Ustinov] narrates and voices the main role of the bird.


The huge kingdom of
Only the early scene in the secret apartment is based on "The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep", while the rest of the movie focuses much more on the king and the bird, hence the ultimate title. In Andersen's tale, the shepherdess and the chimney sweep are china figurines, rather than paintings, and a wooden (mahogany) satyr wishes to wed the shepherdess, supported by a Chinaman, rather than a king and a classical statue. In both tales, the Chinaman/statue breaks, and the duo escape up the chimney, and delight in celestial bodies, but in Andersen's tale the shepherdess is afraid of the wide world and the duo return; this is echoed in the movie where the statue predicts that they will return.


  • Pierre Brasseur (1952 version), Jean Martin (1980 version) as l'oiseau (The Mockingbird), the King's worst enemy whom he constantly taunts. It is implied that the King may have killed his wife. He is the father to four baby chicks.
  • Fernand Ledoux (1952 version), Pascal Mazzotti (1980 version) as King Charles V III = VIII VIII = XVI, the megalomaniac yet lonely tyrant who is in love with the Shepherdess painting on his wall.
  • Anouk Aimée (1952 version) Agnes Viala (1980 version) as the Shepherdess, she is in love with the chimney sweep painting at her right
  • Serge Reggiani (1952 version) Renaud Marx (1980 version) as the Chimney Sweep, he is in love with the shepherdess painting next to him.
  • Raymond Bussieres as the Chief of Police, who is fierclely loyal to the King.
  • Hubert Deschamps as the sententious, a gigantic automan built by the King to symbolise his power. It seems to have a soul of its own.
  • Roger Blin as the blind barrel organ player who hopes for a better world.
  • Philippe Derrez as the elevator operator and speaker
  • Albert Medina as the Beastmaster and high-howler
  • Claude Piéplu as Mayor of the Palace

=1952 English version=

(Supervisor : Pierre Rouve)
  • Peter Ustinov as Mr. Wonderbird
  • Clare Bloom as the Shepherdess
  • Denholm Elliot as the Chimney Sweep
  • Alec Clunes as The Blind Man
  • Max Adrian as The King


Originally titled La Bergère et le Ramoneur (The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep), Grimault and Prévert began the film in 1948 (following their first collaboration, Le Petit soldat (The Little Soldier), also a Hans Christian Andersen adaptation), and it was highly anticipated, but in 1950 the film was taken out of their control, and subsequently the expense of the film caused the failure of the studio (Les Gémeaux). Grimault’s partner André Sarrut (the producer) then released the film unfinished in 1952 in film, against Grimault and Prévert’s wishes, which caused a rift between partners, and they went their separate ways. In 1967 in film, Grimault regained possession of the film, and spent the next decade trying to finance a new version under his supervision. By 1977 he had arranged financing,< name="dossier">Dossier de presse], Le Parc distribution, from Le roi et l'oiseau page </> and thus the film was completed over the two-year period of 1977–79. In 1980 in film – Grimault gave no instruction as to what music he desired, nor was there any back-and-forth, but simply shared the movie with Kilar, who studied it caully, then went to Poland, recorded it, and returned with the completed score, which was accepted unchanged. Most basically, the castle is similar to 19th century fairy-tale castles, the best known of which is Neuschwanstein Castle, while the best-known such model in France is the medieval town Carcassonne, which notably has a surrounding ville basse (lower city), as in the movie. The city, with its dark, industrial underbelly recalls Metropolis (1927 film) by Fritz Lang,< name="comm" /> and the enslaved work recalls Modern Times (film) of Charlie Chaplin. File:Montmatre bordercropped.jpg}}} The castle, presiding over a city, has been compared to a "Neo-Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris",Le Roi et l'Oiseau, de P. Grimault et J. Prévert – Poésie et politique 16 August 2008 </> which, fittingly, given the long production of the movie, includes the lines "Parfois l'oiseau arrive vite / mais il peut aussi bien mettre de longues années / avant de se décider" (Often the bird arrives quickly / but he can also take many years / before he decides himself).

Reception and influence

Le Roi et l'oiseau has been called one of the greatest animated films produced in France,<></> and it is popularly considered one of the best animated feature films of all time. , it has an average vote of 8.1/10 on
The film had a profound influence on Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, who later founded Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki states, inter alia, that "We were formed by the films and filmmakers of the 1950s. At that time I started watching a lot of films. One filmmaker who really influenced me was the French animator Paul Grimault."
In July 2006, Studio Ghibli secured the Japanese distribution rights of the film and released a Japanese-dubbed version to theaters through their Ghibli Museum Library imprint under the name . Starting in just one cinema, it became a hit and spread out to many other theaters, eventually reaching over 20,000 people.


Le Roi et l'oiseau has been released in various editions, in various languages. Beyond the fundamental distinction between editions based on the incomplete 1952 version and the 1980 version, the film has been dubbed in many languages including Japanese and Dutch. In English, the film has been released and talked about under many names. The official international English name is The King and the Mockingbird.
In the 1950s, the 1952 version was released in the States and given an English-dubbed soundtrack under the title of The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird. Peter Ustinov narrates and provides the voice of the bird in this version. Since then, the Mr. Wonderbird version is now in the public domain and has been released as bargain video releases. Mr. Bird to the Rescue and Adventures of Mr. Wonderful were names given to this version among many of its releases. Now Mr. Wonderbird is available for free online] on the Internet Archive].
The 1980 version of the film was released with English , is available through Ghibli Museum Library, and went on sale 2007–4–4, following a theatrical release in Japan starting 2006–7–29.
In 2013, the film was restored and re-released in French cinemas in the summer, by Sophie Dulac Distribution.< name=studiocanal2013/> It was then released on DVD in Germany from September 5, in the UK from October 7, and in France in both a standard DVD edition, a Blu-ray edition, and a collector's boxset on October 15.< name=studiocanal2013/>

See also

  • History of French animation
  • List of animated feature films

=Other animated films with long production histories=

  • The Thief and the Cobbler, in production 1964–1995, released unfinished (or rather, hastily finished)
  • The Overcoat (animated film), by Yuriy Norshteyn :: still in production, since 1981

  • Critics
  • Critiques sur Le Roi et l'Oiseau
  • Le conte au cœur de l’univers grimalien, Objectif cinema
  • Le Roi et l'Oiseau, de P. Grimault et J. Prévert – Poésie et politique 16 August 2008
  • Le Roi et l'Oiseau, reviewed by James Travers 2002, Films de France
  • Le Roi et l'Oiseau],
    Category:1952 animated films
    Category:1980 animated films
    Category:Films based on works by Hans Christian Andersen
    Category:French films
    Category:French-language films
    Category:French animated films
    Category:Ghibli Museum Library films
    Category:Film scores by Wojciech Kilar
  • 3.67
    André Sarrut

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