There’s something wonderfully whimsical about King of Heats. While the film was a flop on its initial release in 1966, its combination of anti-authoritarian humour, and its feel-good vibe, quickly gained it cult status.
During the first world war, Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) is asked to go to a French town to defuse a bomb. There, he discovers that the residents have fled leaving the escaped inmates of a local asylum in charge. The inmates pronounce Plumpick ‘King of Hearts’ but can their new-found saviour defuse the bomb before it’s too late?
Eureka’s restoration is beautifully done, and the extras include interviews with both Genevieve Bujold (who makes an early-career appearance in the film) and Pierre Lhomme, the cinematographer who was responsible for the film’s striking visuals.
To modern audiences, the tone and story-telling may feel a little too saccharine but this 50th Anniversary 4K restoration feels like an especially a timely release. Broca’s delightful anti-war film has more of a surreal edge Oh What a Lovely War!, which was released just two years later, but it has a similar impact. Beneath the laughs—-and there are plenty— there’s a serious message. And it’s not simply a message about the futility of war. The film oozes charm and the last scene (no spoilers) will resonate with all those who feel that it’s currently the real world where the true madness is to be found.
King of Hearts could well be the antidote to what ails you.