Saturday, September 06, 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: "I Served the King of England"

"I Served the King of England" is a Czechoslovakian film, sub-titled, a whimsical cautionary tale about greed. It focuses its attention on the excessive (primarily male) voluptuary life of money, food, drink and sex, seen through the eyes of a small man, both literally (short) and figuratively (a lackey-like waiter) whose one desire in life is to be a millionaire. It is set in pre- and post-World War II Czechoslovakia, amongst the historic realities of Hitler's rise to power and dominance, his acquisition of the Czech Sudetenland, Jewish Holocaust-ism, Czech acquiescence, collaboration, and the nation's economic and political demise into eventual Communism.

I admit these are potent historical backdrops to develop a whimsical and charming comedic and instructive tale of greed. How does one maintain a sufficient aesthetic detachment to comment without passion and righteous judgement on the presented story and characters, to have both fun and learning occur hand-in-hand? But the film beautifully accomplishes its charter with stylistic ease, elegance, intelligence and wit.

The performances are dead-on; flowingly yet restrained mock-heroic and dead-pan; the food is delicious, the women are extravagantly beautiful and voluptuous, and men are fools in the ways that rich, gluttonous and powerful men (all men?) often are.

I highly recommend this film; afternoon or night. In either case, suspend usual judgement, and bring your brains.


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