I Served The King of England
Writer/Director Jiri Menzel’s I served the King of England had its western Canadian Screening at 5th Ave Cinemas on Sept 9th. CJSF’s Nick Pannu reviews…
Director, Jiri Menzel returns in a grand fashion…giving movie goers a utopia-like escape as he brilliantly uses satire reflecting back on one’s character’s pursuit of wealth amidst the unavoidable dangling carrots. The story revolves around Jan Dite, a Charlie Chaplain like character who seldom talks, but uses ecencentric gestures to express himself. Coming from humble beginnings as a hotdog vendor from a small Czechoslovakian town does little to limit the resourcefulness of Jan Dite. He listens, learns and seeks out opportunities eventually achieving his short-lived goal.
Working as a mere hot dog vendor does not stop the young Jan Dite from dreaming of becoming millionaire one day. Slowly destiny seems to reflect his ambition. He is hired as a waiter at a reputable town pub. Serving wealthy customers is where is the young Dite witnesses the many perks of the rich, which includes beautiful women and lavish dishes. He then leaves the pub and finds work in one of Prague’s finest brothels. Yet it is later working in one of Prague’s most elegant hotels where Dite is able to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.
Writer/Director Jiri Menzel does little to hide his contempt towards the Nazis. Although the plot revolves around the titillating escapades of wealth-mostly beautiful scantily clad women- the master race doctrine of the Nazis is fully exploited by Menzel. It is shown how once the Nazis took over, Czechs were treated with repugnance. Anyone not agreeing to hail the furer was taken away by the SS guards. A Prague brothel is converted into breeding lab where young German girls are impregnated by soldiers on their way to the front. Yet, it is admirable how Menzel eloquently combines different elements which involve a farce of the Aryan quest and a young waiter’s naïve pursuit of wealth. Also, the realism of the film is suprisely not compromised by not showing any explicit bloodshed during the substantial World War II sequence of the film.
Overall an entertaining film that is funny and is able to show how some pursuits could ultimately end up being a farce once achieved. In this film Nazis take over Prague, then shortly after the war, the socialists confiscate all the wealth. Oldrich Kaiser, who plays the young ambitious waiter, Jan Dite, played the character very well. Without Kaiser’s performance the film would lack a big chunk of its substance-which is comedy.