I Served The King Of England
- Film Worth:$14.00
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The legendary Czech director Jiri Menzel doesn't make many films these days, so anything with...
The legendary Czech director Jiri Menzel doesn't make many films these days, so anything with his name attached is bound to attract critical attention. It was, after all, Menzel's seminal and unforgettable Closely Observed Trains (1966) which helped to bring the Czech New Wave to the attention of the world. But you don't have to be a student of cinema to appreciate the warmth and gently subversive humanism of I Served The King Of England. Menzel's films can charm anybody.
The film's hero, Jan Dite (a perky performance from Ivan Barnev), is the classic little man on the make. He is a waiter in a very grand 1930s hotel in Prague and, with his manual dexterity and sure sense of how to read a situation, always outwits his boss and gets a good tip into the bargain. Czechoslovakia, however, is also a country much interfered with and Menzel, as he did before, takes from Bohumil Hrabal's novel the chance to explore the darker side of foreign occupation and power. What makes the film even more interesting is that the light, fast-paced farce of the early stages gives way, via a love story, to something more tragicomic. As the film progresses, we also see that Jan is all too human, as his attempts to thrive and survive in war time lead him into the error of collaborationism.
The film's interiors are gorgeous but it also contains a very wide palette of humour, from satire to sight gags. At times, Jan seems like a little blonde Czech Chaplin, with perfect slapstick to match. Menzel also harks back to his New Wave roots with the strategic inclusion of subversive nudity. All in all, this is a treat for fans of Jiri Menzel and newcomers alike.