Breathing new life into old themes, Philippe de Broca's charming antiwar fable KING OF HEARTS has been a perennial favorite on college campuses since it first reached the screen at the height of the Vietnam War.
Set during WWI, the occupying Germans retreat from the town of Marville, France, but not before leaving behind a time bomb. The fleeing townspeople tell the approaching British forces about the hidden explosives, and Pvt. Charles Plumpick (Bates, quite appealing), a poetry-loving Scotsman, is
dispatched to locate the bomb. To avoid the German rear guard, Plumpick ducks into Marville's insane asylum, and the inmates hail him as the "King of Hearts" before retaking the town and resuming their former lives in a decidedly loony fashion.
While trying to find and defuse the bomb, Plumpick comes to love the crazy citizens, especially Coquelicot (Bujold). In time, the Germans and British clash in Marville, littering the town with bodies, and, when the townspeople return, Plumpick is left with a choice: go back to soldiering or join
the "crazy" folks in the asylum. The film's last shot is justifiably famous.
In addition to its strong antiwar message, KING OF HEARTS ponders the old question of who's crazier, the people who accept life's brutality or those who reject it. Some have said that de Broca states his case with a heavy hand--and he does--but for those willing to open themselves to a
lighthearted treatment of this all-too-serious subject, KING OF HEARTS will be both touching and life-affirming.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Breathing new life into old themes, Philippe de Broca's charming antiwar fable KING OF HEARTS has been a perennial favorite on college campuses since it first reached the screen at the height of the Vietnam War. Set during WWI, the occupying Germans retre… (more)