I Served the King of England - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

I Served the King of England Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ December 6, 2012
An short old man wryly recalls his days of short wily youth when he dreamed of making the big time come hell or high water, only there was that damn war standing in his way ... World War ll, dammit. Set mainly in Prague, the Paris of Eastern Europe, this comic tale of accidentally acquiring wisdom while actually trying to acquire wealth doesn't take itself too seriously and there's plenty of beauty to while that wisdom acquisition time away. Loved it, but its not for the kiddies though.
Super Reviewer
March 30, 2009
I don't know much about Jiri Menzel, but I know he's a reknown Czech new wave filmmaker (correct me if I'm wrong). Unbiased as I am, here's my review of I Served the King of England...

Okay... what happens here is that a Czech waiter in pre-occupied Prague really, really wants to be a millionaire. And he will go as far as it takes and rise above any and all circumstances in order to get what he wants. He will become a Nazi to marry a cute German teacher, he will silently witness all sorts of twisted human dynamics for a decent tip, he will accept stamps stolen from deported Jews to change them for money... the man is a total innocent, absolutely ignorant of the perversity of his actions or omissions, only chasing after his dream. And he is content even when his beloved fortune is confiscated and he is sent to jail because he will share cells with millionaires. And he always did want to be with millionaires.

The remarkable thing about I Served... is how it creates this rich, sensual Universe in which the main character moves, where he struggles to climb, that he inhabits pleasurably. Naive as he is in the face of reality, he enjoys and contemplates women, food, and money as the most natural things in the world. Therefore, the film is overflowing with vitality and color, textures, suggested tastes and scents. Scenes of banquets and orgies are shown in a matter-of-fact way and accompanied with beautiful music.

Styllistically, the film reminded me of Chaplin and Rene Clair. There's the quick paced piano, the complicated falling and stumbling, the slapstick humor, and the undercurrents of wit and satire.

The performances are very limited since voice-over dominates a great portion of the film, but every actor undoubtedly inhabits their character perfectly. There's hardly a weak performance.

I don't quite know what to make of this movie. It has no big lessons to teach or much to reflect upon except the uselessness of money and the importance of a full life, and even that can go unseen behind all of its visual charm. I Served... is original, cheerful, and provocative. It's knowingly relativist and allegoric. Above all, it's fun, and light-hearted fun with complex backdrops always gets on my good side.
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2007
A hilarious story that follows the life of a lucky barman starting in the opulent 20s & 30s with tales of the Czech aristocracy's extravagant life, through to the subsequent German invasion and war, finally ending in the Communist era.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2009
"I Served the King of England" starts sometime in the 1960's with Jan Dite(Oldrich Kaiser), "a small man from a small town," getting amnesty from his 15 year jail sentence, after serving 14 years and 9 months. To add to his predicament, he is forced to move to the frontier where he encounters Marcela(Zuzana Fialova) which rekindles memories of himself as a young man(Ivan Barnev) who began his career in food service as a hot dog vendor at the train station in Prague before moving on to become a waiter at a bar. It is there that Jaruska(Petra Hrebickova), the new woman at the local bordello, walks in soaking wet one day.

"I Served the King of England" is a darkly comic, gorgeously rendered, and sensual movie that starts Jan's story innocently enough with a silent movie homage. In fact, he does remind me of a Chaplinesque hero who suffers under the weight of the world while trying to make it a better place through a smile. However, Jan has more important things on his mind than just service, dreaming of becoming a millionaire and opening his own elite hotel. That along with his love of women(I had not noticed they are all taller than him until it is pointed out) drives him in his life, as he also has a naughty habit of dropping coins to tempt the rich.(This reminds me of Abbie Hoffman and Co. dropping money at the New York Stock Exchange. This event says everything you need to know about capitalism.) At the same time, Jan loses track of important events happening around him which leads to both his physical and moral downfall.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2009
Quirky tale about a simple man, Jan Ditie (Ivan Barney and Oldrich Kaiser) with a simple plan: watch and learn how millionaires live so that when he becomes rich and famous, he will know how to behave. And fortuitously he does become rich, only to see it taken away. Along the way he catches the eye of some spectacularly beautiful women who then allow him to sample their charms. Lots of skin, a few chuckles, and a soft satire of materialism, make this an entertaining film. Food, music, opulent colors, delights of the flesh are all here in abundance. Subtitles, and lots of them, as it is very talkative, so be ready to speed-read. But, only the Czech is translated. The German is left unsubtitled, probably because Jan does not speak or understand German, even though he winds up marrying a good German girl. Quite enjoyable.
Super Reviewer
September 21, 2008
Wonderfully quirky and wonderfully witty. Grab it if your video store has a copy or two.
Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2009
Really dug this movie. It's funny, playful, and it surprises you about halfway through with a more serious turn. Hurray for short guys!
Super Reviewer
½ October 26, 2008
First half's whimsy somewhat backfires when less whimsical events come to pass (ex: the Holocaust).
Super Reviewer
½ July 25, 2010
Starts off as an amusingly low-key comedy which surprisingly turns into a history lesson about the German annexation of Czechoslovakia and the effect on its citizens during WW II. Some fine acting and injected with period flavor, the film follows the life of a poor waiter who dreams of owning his own hotel. In the opening shot, we see him in his 60's and getting released from prison after serving 14 years and 7 months of a 15 year sentence (getting out early for good behavior, ha) and find out how he got there. Interesting and with a share of charming & poignant moments sprinkled with substantial and unexpected nudity, all photographed with an artistic lens. This film won't amaze you but ought to hold your interest to the duration.
September 25, 2011
in this chech movie a man is released from prison and recalls his life through flashbacks and in turn history of that area pre WWII to the present. the man who plays the older version of the main character has amazing steel blue eyes that make me think of armin mueller-stahl.
½ June 12, 2009
Against a 1930's background, young waiter Mr. Dite finds himself amongst the turbulent atmosphere of the rise of Nazi‚??s while trying to become a millionaire. A very original taste of humor entertains the viewer as the story unfolds.
Guided by experience of elders, with a charming touch towards women, Dite encounters numerous episodes as he moves up the ladder in the restaurant and hotel business. Dreaming to own his own ‚??hotel‚??, the story becomes interesting as it develops. ‚??Unwillingly‚?? corroborating with the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, only in order to fulfill his petty objectives, Dite eventually comes to understand that his ideals are folly yet joyful as he reflects on his life after his release from prison.
The movie is full of fine dining and wine, and a hilarious take on ‚??Nazi semen and breasts‚??. Overall a good movie for Sunday afternoons.
½ March 2, 2009
Excellent flick from the creative core behind CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS and LARKS ON A STRING. This one is handled a lot broader than those old classics, but it still resonates and offers some laughs and some sensual thrills.
February 27, 2009
Fantastic movie! Well acted - beautiful cinematography, and an extremely interesting, funny, poignant and engaging plot. I am surprised and disappointed that this film did not come up as best foreign film...it was certainly worthy of awards. Everyone I know that has seen it has loved it!
½ May 4, 2008
A busboy/waiter whose stature rises from every circumstance imaginable. The higher in rank his customers are, the farther up the ladder he goes: Better leftovers, better tips, better clothes....and with the better cash flow he can afford better women! This flick is full of balletic grace, charm, poignancy and non-stop humor. The dvd will be released here in the States on 2/17/09
½ October 21, 2008
Trite and trashy story-of-a-life film consistently distracted with an overabundance of beautiful women.
October 12, 2008
I Served the King of England is a well-crafted movie, telling you what to think, how to feel and when. 2/3 of the film are delightful and only 1/3 is sad or cruel, but everythiing is handled so whimsically that it's hard not to be satisfied with its stylistic approach. My only warning: there are enough bare female chests to nearly qualify this as a contemporary Russ Meyer flick. Aside from the gratuitous areolas, I think you'll be charmed.
September 22, 2008
Really interesting movie about the extent we go to belong and the compromises made to get there...what a strange character.
August 4, 2014
Visually sumptuous, splendidly acted, and thoughtful all at once. How sad that "Grand Budapest Hotel" gets so bally-hooed while this far more interesting work remains largely unknown to N American audiences.
February 8, 2013
Not only is this a hilarious adaption of the novel by Bohumil Hrabal, but it has great actors, cinematography and a great musical score. The story takes place during the rise of Hitler, but don't let that turn you off as there are lessons to be learned from this horrible time in modern history.
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