|The White King|
|Directed by||Alex Helfrecht|
|Screenplay by||Alex Helfrecht|
|Based on||The White King|
by György Dragomán
|Music by||Joanna Bruzdowicz|
|Edited by||Peter R. Adam|
|Country||United Kingdom (production)|
The White King is a 2016 British science fiction-drama film written and directed by Alex Helfrecht and Jörg Tittel. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by György Dragomán and follows Djata (Lorenzo Allchurch) growing up in a dictatorship, without access to the rest of the world, while dealing with persecution against him and his parents by the government. It had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and its international premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
The film follows Djata (Lorenzo Allchurch), a 12-year-old boy growing up in a dystopian territory, called Homeland, under a dictatorship and without access to the rest of the world. His father, Peter (Ross Partridge), tells him of the true nature of Homeland as well as of a treasure guarded by a man named Pickaxe (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson). Peter is later taken away by two government agents, leading to him and Djata's mother Hannah (Agyness Deyn) being labelled traitors by the government and the citizenry alike as Djata works to discover the whereabouts of his father.
- Lorenzo Allchurch as Djata
- Olivia Williams as Sophia (voice)
- Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Pickaxe
- Jonathan Pryce as Colonel Fitz
- Fiona Shaw as Kathrin Fitz
- Greta Scacchi as General Meade
- Agyness Deyn as Hannah
- Clare-Hope Ashitey as Gaby
- Ross Partridge as Peter
- Derek de Lint as Silver Hair
- Jeffrey Postlethwaite as Romulus Frunza
- Matthew Postlethwaite as Remus Frunza
- Malachi Hallett as Shabby
The White King was adapted from the 2008 Hungarian novel of the same name, written by György Dragomán. The film was directed and written by Alex Helfrecht and Jörg Tittel and was shot in Hungary. Its production started in June 2015 as principal photography began for the film, where it used settings such as a former Soviet air force base. The directors first became aware of the book when Helfrecht was working in London, and became emotionally invested in the book after only a few pages. The directors intentionally portrayed the dystopian setting's nature as beautiful rather than dismal. They also wanted to make a story where the viewer is granted as little information as the protagonist. However, the directors opted to include an animated sequence at the beginning that "tells the story through the language of propaganda, the symbols that will be seen through the film." For this, they sought out the animation studio Spov, which had worked on content in the Call of Duty and Titanfall video game series.
The film received its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016 on June 18, 2016. It was also featured at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival as part of its "First Features Competition" alongside 13 other films; it was its international debut.
The White King has received generally positive reception; it holds an average rating on Rotten Tomatoes of 71%, based on 17 reviews. It also received a nomination for the "Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film" and "The Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film" at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Neil Young, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, felt that the film was intriguing but ended on an unsatisfying note; he however felt that lead actor Lorenzo Allchurch did a quality job, given his inexperience, and that he hopes to see more out of him in the future. Charles Gant of Screen Daily compared the film to the novel 1984, similarly giving Allchurch praise for his performance. Gant felt that while it succeeds at presenting the world in the tone that it wants, it suffers somewhat from a relatively weak narrative due to the novel being a "loose collection of stories. Writer Emma Simmonds called it a "moderately successful dystopian adventure," similarly comparing it to 1984 but also The Hunger Games and The Goonies. She felt that it may have a good appeal to older teens. MaryAnn Johanson of Flick Filosopher, however, commented: "This sad mess of a vaguely sci-fi coming-of-age tale seemingly could not be more plugged into current fears, and yet it feels utterly irrelevant."
- "The White King". British Council. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Murthi, Vikram (2016-06-09). "'The White King' Exclusive Trailer: A Boy Navigates a Totalitarian State After His Father's Imprisonment". Indiewire. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Chu, Karen (2016-04-29). "Fortissimo Films Acquires Dystopic Drama 'The White King'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Rosser, Michael (2015-06-17). "'The White King' begins Hungary shoot with Jonathan Pryce, Agyness Deyn". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Rowan-Legg, Shelagh (2016-11-21). "Interview: Alex Helfrecht & Jörg Tittel Talk THE WHITE KING". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Grater, Tom (2016-11-14). "Tallinn Black Nights 2016 preview: making the A-list". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "The White King". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
- Young, Neil (2016-09-29). "'The White King': Edinburgh Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Grant, Charles (2016-06-17). "'The White King': Edinburgh Review". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Simmonds, Emma (2016-06-21). "EIFF 2016: Moderately successful dystopian adventure, starring Agyness Deyn and Jonathan Pryce". The List. Retrieved 2016-11-24.