New on DVD: I Served the King of England


It may be a tad long, but I Served the King of England is an intriguing tale of sex and social status.

Jan Díte (Ivan Barnev) is a short, ambitious Czech with a dream of one day becoming a millionaire. He begins his journey at a local pub, serving and observing the social elite. Once he outgrows this position, an advantageous acquaintance finds him work at a luxury spa where he is surrounded by attractive women that serve rich, childish men. When a very generous tip pushes him above this station, he is recommended to one of the finest hotels as a waiter and understudy to the maitre d’. While all of these positions paired him with beautiful women, Díte is actually brought closer to his dream through his relationship with a Hitler-loving woman (Julia Jentsch) during WWII. But the results must have been mixed, because the story is being told by a gray-haired Díte (Oldrich Kaiser) that was recently released from prison.

The inclusion of the older version of Díte feels unnecessary. The narrative overlay could have been present without the introduction of the old man in the beginning. Instead, it could have followed the entire account chronologically, producing the same effect, and shortening the runtime a little.

The story itself is a good mix of sex and comedy; despite the era it is set in, it never rises to the class of drama. Díte’s consistent act of throwing coins amongst the rich and poor alike is amusing and truthful, revealing uniform greed. Barney is wonderful as the perceptive young man that instinctively knows how to act in any situation.

The film’s aesthetic is detailed and brightly coloured. The sets are meticulously decorated, with every element accurately and naturally placed. Furthermore, the designs that ornament Díte’s lovers are picturesque.

There are no DVD bonus features to evaluate.

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