“An elegant, ironic fable with literary origins that belongs to a distinctive middle-European artistic tradition with a puckish spirit that sometimes seems sweet and at other times ruthless.”
So says Andrew O’Hehir of salon.com about I Served The King of England, a documentary film that screens Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven.
Liberally sprinkled with homage to silent features, vaudeville, and slapstick, the film tells the story of Jan Dite, an ordinary Czech citizen who reflects on life after being released from jail. Much of the film is told in flashback, transporting the audience back to Mr. Dite’s younger days in Prague, where the young restaurant worker does whatever it takes to fulfill his dreams of becoming a millionaire. His reckless and frequently hilarious path to achieving his goal becomes the backbone of the movie, and director Jiri Menzel deftly edits back and forth between the older and younger versions of Mr. Dite as his history is revealed. Food and sex become important parts of the storyline as the main character demonstrates his passion for both, and the rampant urges of his younger self are neatly tempered by Mr. Menzel’s flash-forwards to the older version of the character.
The film was a winner of the Fipresci Prize at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival, and was also nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear. The film is subtitled in English and rated R, so theatregoers may want to leave the little ones at home for this one.
Price of admission is $8, or $4 for Martha’s Vineyard Film Society members. For details, call 774-392-2972, or visit mvfilmsociety.com.