Th King's Speech

PidgeJanuary 15, 2011

I hope by now some GPers have also seen this film. I saw it on Christmas day and again today and it's a film that wears well with multiple views. Best film of the year? Maybe, and Colin Firth for Best Actor and Geoffrey Rush for Best Supporting Actor are possible.

The film is beautifully acted by a lot of actors you will recognize from Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter--looks like half of England's acting pool wanted in on this one.

Colin Firth is a lot more than a pretty face in this film. Watching him enact the awful stammer that nearly crippled "Bertie" and made him believe that he could never be a king makes one want to cry. But he is so brave, trying as an adult to overcome this disability that generally is not curable after one's teenage years. He's the Duke of York when the film begins and has a profound sense of his place in the world. Yet he bumps up against Lionel Logue (Jeffrey Rush) who consistently and persistently knocks him off his high horse. What matters is that Bertie is so scared and insecure within his family and thus in public that he's willing to take a chance on Logue. And the film unfolds almost solely as the incredible chemistry between these two men and how their complicated, volatile, and eventually trusting relationship changed British history by helping Bertie become King George VI.

Firth is so amazing in this role--watching him mimic stammering (I know folks who stammer, including my own mother, and he gets this so right), and how Bertie/George so courageously confronts his disability and works like a dog to bring it under control, is one of the best roles he's ever played. Rush is just as good playing a failed actor who develops the ability to help folks with speech disabilities entirely through experience with WWI shell-chocked veterans. And then there is Helena Bonham Carter, who has never been a favorite of mine, who is just plain terrific as Bertie/George's wife. She plays Elizabeth as so loving, so ordinary, so willing to act the nurturer, but always with wit and a slightly wry sense of self--Bertie could not have done what he did without her.

My favorite scene in this film is when Bertie has just signed the papers of accession to the throne. He walks down a hall, meets his daughters, and after a long look at Elizabeth, cups her head in his hands and kisses her on the head. He knows what's coming in her future.

There is so much more to say about this film--it's well paced, the settings are convincing, the tension keeps one on the alert even though one knows that Bertie/George will be okay at the end, and the photography is first rate. I"ve seen this film twice and expect to buy it when it comes out on DVD. It's my favorite film of the season.

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What a great job you did reviewing this film. I saw it and loved it and want to see it again. I was listening to a program on NPR and apparently Elizabeth kept a diary of those years and said that none of the information relating to the relationship between her husband and his speech teacher could be made public until her death. I have a feeling this film was a fairly accurate account.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 8:22PM
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Because of your review, I really want to see this film. Thank you.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 9:59PM
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A friend of mine and I saw this movie today. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pidge, the scene you said you loved, I hadn't thought of it that way, I was noticing how much more affectionate he was when his father was so not that way towards him. Earlier when he hugged them, I saw him hesitate, and I wondered if that was the moment he decided he was not going to be the same as his father.

(We missed the first few minutes of the film, we walked in when he was being introduced to Lionel Logue.)


    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 11:14PM
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Lisa, you are right about the affection he feels towards everyone in his family, even trying to help his ungrateful brother. When he takes the time before a formal event to tell his daughters a bedtime story, give them big hugs, and tells them to stable and feed their hobby horses--key moment to illustrate the difference between him and his own father. The scene I mentioned is really an extension of that earlier moment of personal affection (and the hobby horses are in the scene, too, now that I think of it.)

Sorry you missed that opening scene--he's expected to give a short speech as a stand-in for his ill father and a whole stadium full of people listens in embarrasmment for him because he's literally incapable of doing it. So the "king's speech" covers the two speeches that come at the beginning and end of the film and the enormous transformation in the "king's speech" that leads from the first to the second.

Marda, I heard a program on NPR about it and even heard a snippet of the actual speech given by George VI. The concensus was that the film was very accurate in terms of history.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 6:58AM
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Thank you for the review, now I want to see it even more. I am seeing movies at the theater more frequently these last couple years. On NYE we did dinner and a show and I had narrowed it down to two movies depending on what time we finished with dinner. We ended up seeing The Fighter, and it was good (the sisters of the fighter were hysterical). I thought we would catch The King's Speech this week, but the auto show won out. Aside from the great reviews I have read, I want to see The King's Speech because my son stutters.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 8:28AM
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gandle(4 NE)

Your reviews are appreciated pidge. I probably won't see the movie. Sometimes it takes several years to get this far in the boondocks.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 8:20PM
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I saw the movie yesterday and have to second everything Pidge said. It was wonderful, what a treat to see marvelous acting.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 3:39PM
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