These pictures don’t do it justice. I say, if you’re going to the bother of making a movie, make it beautiful and make it about beautiful women.
A deeply endearing film, Obsluhoval jsem Anglickeho Krale is a wonderful cinematic novelisation which is a drama with moments of comedy (rather than a comedy drama) of bittersweet proportions. It is a wonderful assumation of the human spirit which in times is naive but deeply profound and loyal.
Our protagonist is easily identifiable and we as an audience immediately connect to a man who is impossible not to love for his comedic and charming personality, but who carries the same flaws as so many of us. Brought almost perfectly to life via the use of Ivan Barnev and Oldrich Kaiser, who act out to almost complete perfection, the growing Jan Dite as his unwavering enthusiasm charm and naiveté is replaced by a world wearied figure who begins to appreciate the simple moments in life rather than the quick, rich or glamorous as he charts his life throughout the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) in World War II.
Having lived in Prague for several years I felt the connection between the author Bohumil Hrabal and this architectural beauty that is the Czech Republic’s capital city. However, a bond is also felt with the more traditional Czech elements of Bavarian villages in idealistic rural settings and the simple complexities of the Czech countryside.
I Served The English King is hugely enjoyable film whose first hour is engrossing to the point of ridiculousness. It is ultimately a hugely successful first hour of cinema drama at its fullest potential, being able to entice the audience into a riveted state where the next scene is as important as the one being viewed. While the second half, or perhaps even last third, is slightly slower and much darker, as Jan begins furthering relations with characters who were not much favoured at the time, the director and actor manages it so our protagonists charm remains, and the persona presented is one of blissful naiveté and unwavering love and loyalty, when many would see ignorance and stupidity.
I Served The English King was not only the first book I read by a Czech author, but also the first film viewed, and while most novel to film comparisons will favour the novel due to cinemas inability to capture every act or essence of the novel, the director Jiri Menzel does a wonderful job of capturing the majority and more importantly the essence. I Served The English King is a hugely engaging, moving and somewhat personal experience, and while most definitely not perfect the flaws in this film are irrelevant and do not merit discussion in comparison to the film as a whole. This is cinema at its barest, a film about human existence where you come out rewarded for the experience. No puns about cheques, checks or Czechs this is a damned good film which demands all lovers of films attention.