King of the Belgians – gentle and gracious

What happens when a modern monarch, far from home, finds that his country is in revolt? The premise is gripping enough and, without bloodshed or any violence, the film draws you through with royal elegance.

King of the Belgians is made mockumentary style. I once thought The Blair Witch Project was brilliant in its attempt at making us feel the events were real. The technique here, however, makes for pleasurable reality.

My father once told me that the moral of the Ramayana was how to be a king without a kingdom. It is the gentle grace of manner that makes a person a monarch. Not the money or the title.

Belgium has a history that is not very good. And Belgian kings have been known to be brutal as colonial usurpers. Yet to go on propagating one view can make history repeat itself.

India has an endless list of violent films where cops are corrupt and so are many others. Perhaps that is why our reality continues to reflect the movies. I do not know if research proves that depictions affect how we are and who we choose to be but just think of Indian policemen, for example. Do they have any role model in cinema?

So King of the Belgians could perhaps provide a role for Belgian aristocracy or even for any ruler anywhere. In any case, a good ruler should soon tire of sycophancy and mingle with the masses to learn of their problems if they desire to govern well.

A retinue of armed bodyguards and a habit of public appearances only as a glamourous show can do little to lift the burdens of citizens. But as long as commercial interests ensure that we all adore showmanship and flinch from anything else, we shall have the masters we deserve.

In the meantime, it was nice to see an ideal ruler.

Belgium has a bad rap in Western Europe for violence and our average view of the land is via Jean Claude Van Damme.

Jean-Claude Van Damme / HARD TARGET (1993)
Jean-Claude Van Damme / HARD TARGET (1993), from cobravictor

The truth is that, besides delicious chocolate, the Belgians make excellent graphic novels, films and TV shows. I wish India could get to enjoy this jewel of a film.

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