There was a great deal of anticipation (in the overheated greenhouse of my heart at least) for this film, and especially so since i missed it at the cinema. This dvd is a real treat, and it doesn't disappoint. Jiri Menzel secured his place in world cinema history with his 1967 smash 'Closely Observed Trains' for which he won an oscar for best foreign language film at the age of just 28!. If you go to his wikipedia page and click on the external link to an interview on the Czech official website then you can see a photo of a very fresh faced young man getting the gong, and that is Menzel. Like his earlier smash, 'I Served the King of England' is based on a book by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, with whom Menzel closely collaborated. This is the sixth film of what must rank as one of the most fruitful collaborative artistic friendships in cinema. It is a collaboration the magic of which has most likely run its course since this was the last Hrabal novel that remained to be filmed. All the more reason for it to be savoured, like a dinner thrown at a fancy hotel. It is a satire, but it is without viciousness as such. It is bitter, but it is also sweet. In an interview, Menzel has described his use of humour in the following way:
'I can't stand artistic declarations, the need for a work to say something. In the theater and on film, I want people to laugh and at the same time to discreetly see themselves as they are. In a way that isn't too painful. '
This quotation sums up what the film does for me. There ARE some great laughs, some fantastically choreographed set-pieces and a wealth of beautiful moments that i don't want to spoil. This film is an embarrassment of riches in every sense. It has some great performances by, among others, the finest (in my view) German actress of the moment, Julia Jentsch, and in the leading role Ivan Barnev (young man) and Oldrich Kaiser (older man)