After being disposed of the through one of his many trapdoors, his painted, more flattering, doppelgänger comes alive after dark and demands the shepherdess' hand in marriage, refusing to allow her to realise her love for the chimney sweep on the opposing wall. Under the watchful aid of l'oiseau (the mockingbird), the shepherdess and the lowly chimney sweep abscond from their brush-stroked, stilted surroundings and attempt to escape the labyrinthine palace, coming into contact with its many vertiginous heights and dangerous occupants along the way. Hot on their tail is the king's vengeful double, who, armed with a destructive robot, will stop at nothing to win the heart of the woman he loves.
Quickly paced and oozing with visual ingenuity, The King and the Mockingbird is an off-kilter but enormously enjoyable passion project whose stance as the vanguard of gorgeous, purely hand-drawn animation is as notable as its notorious production. Peppered with impulsive creativity and continuous cultural references, from the meticulous urban design of German expressionist director Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) to Rodin's 'The Thinker', and presided over by a bountiful score by Wojciech Kilar, Grimault's film is a triumph of simple ingenuity, whose memorability clearly infuses and reverberates to this day through the work of Studio Ghibli founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.