The Pied Piper, based on the 14th-century legend from Hamelin, has been filmed by the sensitive Jacques Demy as a sort of somber fairy tale and allegory. The results are commendable in ambition but uneven in execution.
In recreating the story of the minstrel who leads the rats out of Hamelin, but then leads its children away when the politicians fail to keep a promise, the writers started with one of folklore’s greatest pre-sold subjects. However, the script seems more a series of broad, arch, low-comedy vignettes without a clear emphasis.
As a result, Donovan, in the title role, is in and out of the story, as is Jack Wild, cast as the crippled boy whose alchemist patron, Michael Hordern, cannot convince the town’s elders of the connection between Black Plague and rats.