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The Little King (1933)

Le petit roi (original title)
In an imaginary country ,Michel VIII is still a child but he is to reign when his time comes.Revolution threatens and the young monarch's entourage lies to him and even tries to get rid of him.

Director:

Julien Duvivier
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Lynen ... Michel VIII
Arlette Marchal ... La comtesse Slasko
Béatrice Bretty Béatrice Bretty ... Barbara
Jean Toulout ... Le comte Marski
Marcel Vallée Marcel Vallée ... Storeck
Georgé Georgé ... Le chambellan
Hubert Prélier Hubert Prélier ... Pierre Zoltyk
Paule Andral Paule Andral ... La régente
Julien Clément Julien Clément ... Le professeur Bonnard (as Clément)
Camille Bert Camille Bert ... Le professeur d'histoire
Robert Le Vigan ... Le fou
Charles Camus Charles Camus ... Le docteur Jacklow
Jeanne Méa Jeanne Méa ... Madame de Stenne
Marcel Carpentier Marcel Carpentier ... Le régent Paul
Louis Vasseur Louis Vasseur ... Le colonel Kremof
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Storyline

In an imaginary country ,Michel VIII is still a child but he is to reign when his time comes.Revolution threatens and the young monarch's entourage lies to him and even tries to get rid of him.He makes friend with an anarchist who sneaks into the park of his castle.Later ,this false friend tries to murder him in the cathedral;Returning good for evil ,he forgives him and cannot prevent his execution.Because of his poor health ,he is sent to the south of France ,but he does not know his mother -he thinks she's dead- is living there.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

21 November 1933 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Der kleine König See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As the site is well known, most of the 'Le Petit Roi' first part has been shot at 'Le Haut-Koenigsbourg', a restored Burg in Elsass, the same as 'La Grande Illusion'. Just to say that it is much more sunny that in the movie. Second part is also on 'Le Vieux Port', in Marseille for the child battle. See more »

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User Reviews

 
King of hearts
19 March 2017 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

Based on an André Lichtenberger novel , « Le Petit Roi « had been impossible to see for years because of royalties;after the unquestionable success of « Poil De Carotte » (1932),it was only natural that the great Julien Duvivier teamed up again with his wiz kid Robert Lynen whose fate was tragic : a resistant fighter in WW2 ,he was tortured and executed by the Nazis.

The heir of an imaginary kingdom in central Europa,Michel VIII ,a sickly teenager ,is sent to France where he meets his mom who lives here in exile (he thought she was dead).But his health improves and duty calls in his homeland .

André Lichtenberger (29 November 1870, Strasbourg – 23 March 1940, Paris) was a French novelist and sociologist. He held a Doctor of Letters in history. Extracts of his works for children were often included in textbooks and used as dictations in the fifties .Today,unlike Jules Renard's "Poil De Carotte" which has remained popular ,Lichtenberger's books are a bit forgotten.

Duvivier 's purpose was certainly the same as in his adaptation of "Poil De Carotte" :an adolescent exposed to the cruel adult world,represented in the 1932 work ,by a hateful mom ,and in "Le Petit Roi" ,by the court intrigues and a regent and his secretaries who use him as a puppet -his uncle's wife even tries to poison him-,and by his people who are dreaming of a revolution.

In the first part (by far ,the best) which takes place in an imaginary land ,Duvivier's legendary pessimism is omnipresent: the first sequence shows a desperate man asking a priest for absolution ,because "he is going to kill the king" ;then a desolate country where poverty and hunger are rampant ,where a lunatic (played by Robert Le Vigan who cries like one possessed- by a strange irony of fate ,whereas Lynen "the little king" became a resistant fighter in WW2,Le Vigan collaborated with the occupant)curses the kingdom and the royalty; soldiers patrolling the streets . One thing to bear in mind is that "Le Petit Roi " was written in 1910 ,at a time when L'Alsace and La Lorraine were German ;the writer was born in Strasbourg ,but his family left this region when it became German.

In direct contrast with this country in turmoil and this repressive regime ,we have a little king whose bed looks like a cage and whose only friend is his nanny ,Barbara ;his teachers stuff the heir's head with the past glory of their great country ("do you have to kill people to be in the mausoleum?).In search of a friend ,he tries to make friends with an anarchist who sneaked into the park ,but the man betrays him :the coronation ceremony climaxes the movie with this heavy cross the new king has to carry through the aisle ,too heavy a load for his frail shoulders .Later,returning good for evil,the young hero will refuse to play the politicians' game ,to no avail.

The second part ,which takes place on the Riviera,sadly ,is much less interesting,and does not avoid blandness or clichés ("I wish I were a child like the other ones" );we could expect more of the mother and child reunion and the games the king plays with his pals ("a pretend fight")) is too obvious a metaphor (a far cry from Borzage's 'no greater glory" ).Fortunately,this episode is rather short.

That said ,for Duvivier's fans (and I 'm part of them) ,this is a royal gift.And let's tip our hat to Thirard's cinematography.

I take advantage of this comment to thank Patrick Brion, responsible for TV art house " cinema De Minuit" ,without whom many Duvivier 's works would remain ignored.


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