The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Le joueur de flûte

dir. Jacques Demy

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

Skip to schedule and film credits
Jacques Demy's dark, politically charged version of the famous fairy tale crosses the fanciful ambience of Demy's Donkey Skin with the bleak medievalism of Bergman's The Seventh Seal to stunning (and often shocking) effect.

The revelation of our last Demy retrospective, The Pied Piper of Hamelin crosses the fanciful ambience of Demy's Donkey Skin with the bleak medievalism of Bergman's The Seventh Seal to stunning (and often shocking) effect. Demy's dark, politically charged version of the famous tale of the wandering minstrel who saves a town from the plague puts the grim in Grimm, feeding us fantastic imagery of the mud-spattered, vermin-infested Middle Ages (including a rat-riddled cake in the shape of a cathedral) and stressing the power struggles between merchants, burghers, and the church, all of them hungry for money. ("The Middle Ages prefigure the foundations of capitalist society," Demy stated, and his wife Agnès Varda warned him that the film was too political.) Folk rocker Donovan shines as the piper, and the supporting cast is rich with great character actors relishing their roles: Donald Pleasance as the conniving burgomaster; Michael Hordern as a Jewish alchemist; Jack Wild as his handicapped assistant; Diana Dors as Frau Poppendick; and John Hurt as the evil Franz. "Ripe for rediscovery, The Pied Piper, perhaps the greatest of Demy's neglected films, is not to be missed" (Anthology Film Archives).