The White King (2016) is Alex Helfrecht and Jörg Tittel’s feature directorial debut, a bold adaptation of György Dragomán’s novel. A coming of age story of a young boy who sees his father imprisoned, the narrative follows the protagonist as he and his mother are labelled as traitors; his youthful innocence contrasts sharply with the viciousness of adult malice and oppression.
The boy’s youthful spirit sharpens the blade of totalitarian oppression as the film offers a striking portrait of a dystopian nation and its dictatorship. Yet more simple than that, it is in the words of Helfrecht: “A portrait of a child’s view of a regime.” The innocent point of view of its twelve-year-old Djata is not a mere creative choice, rather it is in fact central to their aspiration to instil the spirit of the book within the film.
Helfrecht and Tittel’s short Battle for Britain previously played at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2011, which coincidentally strikes up imagery of a past battle against the forces of totalitarianism that connects the two films. Ahead of the UK theatrical release of The White King, the writer-directors joined Aesthetica in conversation to reflect on the process of adaptation, and the relationship between the literary and filmic languages.
Read the full interview at ASFF.