Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I loved "I Served the King of England"!

This afternoon I nipped out of the newsroom to catch a press screening of a film, I Served the King of England by Jiri Menzel, at the lovely, dusty Tivoli.

It opens there on Friday, September 19, so I have plenty of time to formulate my thoughts. I started to do so in a long, rambling phone call to K. Curtis Lyle on my drive back to work.

I have given Curtis a copy of the novel of the same name, by the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, in Paul Wilson's standard translation. Granted that "favorite" is a silly, teeny bopper concept, I do consider it to be my most favorite ever novel like totally.

Curtis read it, loved it. When I told him I think the film succeeds on almost as elevated a level as the novel, he said, "Oh man, then I definitely want to see it."

I wanted to see it with him, until he mentioned his lady friend, who is French. This is, among many other things, a beautiful love movie, and there is much play with the French language. Much of the action happens in Prague, one of the great polyglot capitals of the world.

I think Curtis should see the film with Colette.

I'll try to see it again and again (happy to book appointments with fence-sitters to get them out to the movies!) while it's in town and will buy a DVD as soon as one exists and I know where to find it.

As Curtis and I were remembering what we loved about the novel, he described an affect it has: that of coming upon something from a long way away, and then finding yourself suddenly on a plateau with a magnificent and detailed vista below you, and the view you have is not of landscape but of human experience.

"The movie does that too!" I said. "Not only that technique, metaphorically speaking, but that actual cinematic technique! Remember when the hero falls in love with the girl who turns out to be the Hitler youth? They're on a hillside, and she turns to him in this golden light ..."

"Man," Curtis said. "I have got to see that movie!"


Pic is a still from some feller's Flickr site.

1 comment:

Lives in Washington DC said...

Sorry Chris... this movie was awful and didn't capture the horror of the book and was really unworthy of Menzel and Hrabal... If you compare it to Closely Watched Trains and -- the best Menzel movie of all time, Larks on a String -- it's sadly lacking in bite and vigor.

The book is brilliant. Maybe not Hrabal's best... (There is Too Loud a Solitude to consider...) But the book really is a classic of 20th century literature and I wish that Menzel (whom I admire greatly) had made a movie less broadly comic and pandering to bourgeois Czech tastes and really took on the subject matter...