Once Upon a Time, There Was a King

This playful fairytale comedy, inspired by the classical story Sůl nad zlato (Salt Above Gold) written by Božena Němcová, explores the troubles of a preposterous ruler going by the name “Myself, First” as he plunges his kingdom into a state of gastronomic tragedy. To spite his loving youngest daughter Maruška, who claims to love her father like salt, the king has all the salt in his realm destroyed…

Having to his credit the fairytales Pyšná princezna (The Proud Princess, 1952), Byl jednou jeden král... (Once Upon a Time, There Was a King, 1954) and Šíleně smutná princezna (The Incredibly Sad Princess, 1968), as well as a pair of comedies featuring a grumpy public transport ticket conductor from Prague (Dovolená s Andělem [Holiday with Angel, 1952], Anděl na horách [Angel in the Mountains, 1955]), Bořivoj Zeman goes down as one of the most popular filmmakers of Czechoslovak film history to date.

This playful fairytale comedy, inspired by the classical story Sůl nad zlato (Salt Above Gold) written by Božena Němcová, explores the troubles of a preposterous ruler going by the name “Myself, First” as he plunges his kingdom into a state of gastronomic tragedy. To spite his loving youngest daughter Maruška, who claims to love her father like salt, the king has all the salt in his realm destroyed… Yet even despite all the royal endeavours at altering the course of the culinary art, the seemingly valueless mineral proves indispensable to life in the kingdom…

Regardless of the ideological bias resulting from the period of its origin, the film continues to deliver timeless entertainment. Admired Jan Werich, who is cast in the role of the king, is paired on screen with another highly popular comedian, Vlasta Burian (king’s counsellor Atakdále, aka “Et cetera”).

Direction
Year
1954
Country
  • Czech Republic
Duration
97min 
Audio Tracks 
Subtitles 

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