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

I Served the King of England Reviews

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March 1, 2011
watched it before and still the best classic art movie with lots of wonderful moments. It's liike a combination of Life Is Beautiful and Forrest Gump.
½ February 25, 2011
it tries to make a guy with awful behavior, completely amoral and non decent to be cute and to make u like his decisions and find them silly and ok. u wont even notice that u approving awfully wrong behavior. at the end ofc he feels sorry for how he used to behave but he is like 60 years old and lives peacefully in cabin. i was more for he dying from terrible death ending.. beside this, quite entertaining
January 27, 2011
by Leon Conrad for remotegoat on 06/05/08

Jan Díte is a man who's set apart from others. What sets him apart is his height - he's short. He's also ambitious. Jan Díte wants to become rich. He starts out selling food to passengers at train stations. While honing his skill as a con artist, he becomes fascinated by observing people's attitudes to money. He cultivates a collector's mentality aligned with a talent for sniffing out opportunities. He works in a pub, then as a hotel waiter, acquiring bank notes, knowledge and experience by dint of his carefully honed voyeuristic talent along the way. Against the background of the German occupation of Prague, he falls in love with Liza, a Sudeten German. After a stint at the front, Liza returns with a valuable collection of stamps left behind as a result of the holocaust. After her accidental death, Jan sells the collection and invests in his own hotel. He ends up being sentenced to 15 years in jail, one for each of the millions he amassed. Everything he's built up is sequestrated by the Communist regime. He serves out most of his sentence in the company of fellow millionaires, a fellowship from which he is ultimately excluded. A few months short of his official release date, Jan is freed as a result of an amnesty, and sent to live in a deserted ghost town near the German border. He restores an old pub, during the process of which he collects mirrors and memories, out of which Jiří Menzel's 2006 film adaptation of Bohumil Hrabal's tale "I Served The King of England" unfolds as a series of flashbacks and stories which he tells to a couple who become his neighbours for a while they are on a mission to source timber from the forest near the town.

Hrabal wrote the story in 1975. It took eight years for it to be published. When it eventually came out, it appeared as an exclusive publication for members of the Jazz Section of the Czech Musicians' Union, to whom Hrabal dedicated it. In the heavily-censored Soviet-occupied period of Czech history, Hrabal's style of writing and his endorsement of the playfulness of the jazz musician's approach was seen by the authorities as the last straw. It took four years, but the Section's leaders ended up being tried and incarcerated. It was only after the so-called Velvet Revolution, the literary-led movement which overthrew the communist regime, of which the playwright and writer Vaclav Havel was a leading figure, that they were eventually released.
The juxtaposition of the effects of ideological oppression and a sense of playfulness and play - of the Marxist Homo Faber as a counterpoise to Huizinga's Homo Ludens - spans and dominates the book, but is brought to life, and given a different dimension in Menzel's film. Although gambling doesn't feature, the play of beer in a glass, the roles people play, the playfulness of people at different periods in a hotel swimming pool, musicians playing, and playing with money all do. Play and playing are major themes in this film, which charts a trajectory of playfulness across a particularly intense period in Czech history, which spans Nazi occupation and communist rule.

Across this time period, people play out their lives. People move differently, depending on the period in which they live. Over time, posture changes; as do gait and voice use. It is rare to find a period film which portrays these differences accurately. It is a tribute to Menzel's flawless direction of his perfectly-cast actors that these differences are brought out with such exquisite effortlessness.
In this film, almost any theme becomes a segment in a DNA-like strand which connects to others. That connection branches out via wider references both within the film and beyond it. Light, glass, liquidity, solidity and absolute vs relative values are just five such themes. I could list others, but that would take away part of the fun for the viewer. It is this attention to detail and depth of metaphorical approach which provide much of the justification for the undeniable claim this film has to classic status. Whether you just watch it for the fun of watching it, or whether you watch it with an eye for detail; whether you watch it once or whether you watch it more than once; whether you have money in your pocket or whether you've spent your last coins to see it ... watch it. This film will creep inside your mind and play with you. Watch it.
December 19, 2010
Divertida, inteligente y con una estetica magnifica...
½ November 20, 2010
Mostly this movie just made me hungry. It was cute and pretty to look at for the first act. Wasn't able to find it cute or funny in the second act.
November 14, 2010
un mix intre comic(nu caraghios) si trist(nu tragic)
chiar dak ti se implinesc visele nu e sigur k vei fii si fericit
½ November 13, 2010
The struggle of a slightly silly yet always charming little man symbolises the bumpy journey the Chezh republic made in their recent history, all visualised in a playful style reminding of Charlie Chaplin and Federico Fellini. The movie starts off as a light hearted comedy, but it ends with pretty serious subjects like racism during the holocaust and the effects of WWII on everyday life. I was a little bit disappointed in the lack of attention the communist-era received. They kinda end the movie in the period that I pesonally find most interesting in Chezh history.
½ October 23, 2010
Pretty flawless film making from Jiri Menzel who captures one man's ascent to the big time with charm and humour. Barnev's almost Chaplinesque turn as the ambitious waiter is sympathetic and human (as are the supporting cast's) and his performance remains beguiling even when he's ostracised by his fellow countrymen. Beautifully shot in Prague (most notably the amazing deco interior of the Hotel Imperiale) and featuring a bevy of gorgeous female actresses, ISTKOE is one of the best films to come out of the CZR in recent years. A lovely movie and a tonic for the senses after a week of lame blockbusters. Marvellous.
½ July 5, 2010
Monday July 10, 2010

(2008) I Served The King of England
(In Czech Republic with English subtitles)


This film is more like the adventures of Jan Dite played by Ivan Barney than what the title of this film insinuates. Anybody familar with films such as Barry Lyndon or Benjamin Button should enjoy this film as well where the narrator realvaluates his adventures while living on Prag and so forth.... This film is never boring for his retelling of his life was somewhat a fascinating retale of one`s life!

3 out of 4
April 14, 2010
(***): Thumbs Up

Quite funny.
April 13, 2010
Great movie (great story) I want to buy it
April 2, 2010
I don't like this type of movies but I have to admit it was good. Still not as great as they told me it was because it was kinda dull sometimes. Still deserves a fresh.
March 20, 2010
Whimsical journey through Czech history following the accidental career successes of a waiter. A bit like Forrest Gump, only good
March 9, 2010
Surprisingly whimsical and endearing story about an ambitious and lovable Czech young man, Jan Dite. One of his most adorable qualities is how sweet he is to the women he cares about. Women are so often portrayed as objects to be consumed and enjoyed by men, but Dite seeks to make women happy and give them pleasure. Unexpected, fresh, and lovely concept. There are also some really funny moments, punctuated by dramatic and tragic happenings. It's a dark satire that still manages to have an original and engaging point of view.
February 26, 2010
Nice and funny. The message it is probably meant to carry does not deliver. Medium entertainment value. Jentsch is beautiful in oak leaves in her hair.
February 12, 2010
La vida es una caja de sorpresas!
February 11, 2010
On the surface this one's so funny, but the laughing doesn't do away with the discomfort coming from underneath: All the dirtiest, nastiest, most disgusting sides of human behavior are exhibited here. On the whole, you'll get a picture as contradictory as life itself!
½ January 30, 2010
To be honest I don't know what to make of this. I enjoyed watching the bacchanalian splendor of Czechoslovakia's finest hotels in a thirty year era that includes World War II and German and Russian occupations. The main character hopes to become a millionaire by climbing up the hospitality ladder until he can buy his own hotel. As you might expect from a European art movie, there's a good amount of nudity and love-making, and this unfolds in the context of historic events and an unswerving absurdism. A profoundly rich old man who gives advice to the young waiter was my favorite character. My mother laughed a lot, but she's Czech, and if you aren't, please expect the humor to roll by unnoticed. (I think it's a timing thing. We uncouth Westerners haven't any idea.) I Served the King of England is based on a novel, and more than anything else I enjoyed the novelesque observations and introspections of the main character.
½ January 16, 2010
Funny, charming, fascinating :)
½ January 13, 2010
the movie moves you into an enjoyable, tasteful, colorful, funny and bitter ambiance.
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