King of Hearts is a whacky 1966 French anti-war comedy in which a Private Plumpick (played by Alan Bates) is sent to defuse a bomb planted by the German’s in a remote French village. To his astonishment he finds that the town has been commandeered by a kindly group of patients from the local mental institution, and they begin to worship Bates as their leader. Bates is paired off with the cute dancer and acrobat Coquelicot, played by` Genevieve Bujold, and the town prepares to throw them their very own royal wedding.
The film is a humorous, unique satire of war, with the soldiers displayed as monstrous caricatures, blood thirsty and amoral, whilst the escaped patients of the asylum are wonderfully kind and gentle. They are unaware or uninterested in the chaos of war that surrounds them, and it’s no wonder that Plumpick would rather be here than along with his fellow army members. Whilst he desperately searches for the bomb that has been planted somewhere amongst this village, the residents seem to completely ignore the fact that any of this is happening, as if they are deaf to any talk of the war or conflict.
This film is really aesthetically pleasing; with beautiful, vibrant costumes flooding the screen with colour. This is the main appeal when watching this film today, as the storyline may seem at times dated and slightly strange, but true film fans will enjoy it simply for the technique and beauty. The way in which the director sheds light on an appalling situation is somewhat refreshing, and if you can appreciate the motivation behind it, it can be an enjoyable experience. It is most certainly a different kind of war film, and the final scene is one that has been remembered to this day.
Give it a go if you like something a bit quirky and a bit old school!
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