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The King’s Speech

Director: Tom Hooper
1 hour 51 mins. Rated R.

Based on the true story of King George VI (Colin Firth), The King’s Speech follows the Royal Monarch’s quest to find his voice. George V becomes the first British monarch to speak over the radio, presenting a Christmas address. While coaching Albert through a practice address, George V explains that the radio has required monarchs to become skilled actors, but at the same time the king’s bullying manner towards his son is apparent. As George V declines in health, Albert’s older brother, David, grows closer to an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Upon George V’s death, David inherits the throne, taking the name King Edward VIII, but he appears to place his feelings for Simpson ahead of his responsibilities as king. Albert seeks to overcome his speech impediment.

When the doctor suggests the prince to relax muscles of his throat by smoking, Albert’s wife seeks out Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), who eventually works with Albert on muscle relaxation and breath control, while simultaneously probing the psychological roots of his stammer. As the treatment progresses, the two become friends. While visiting Edward VIII at Balmoral Castle, the Duke and Duchess of York are horrified at the presumptuousness of Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced woman from Baltimore, and Albert confronts Edward on the dereliction of his duties. Albert is astonished when Edward reveals his intent to marry Wallis once she is divorced from her second husband. Albert points out that Edward cannot retain the throne and marry a divorced woman, as the King is the head of the Church in England. Edward accuses Albert of a medieval style plot to usurp his throne, citing Albert’s speech lessons as an attempt to ready himself for power. Albert is tongue-tied at the accusation, and Edward cruelly resurrects his childhood taunt of “B-B-Bertie”.

No sooner has the prince arrived at Logue’s humble abode on Harlan Street does the film remind me of Pygmalion, except King’s Speech is more an anti-Pygmalion story. Whereas Higgins teaches a flower girl to speak like a lady so that he can win a bet puts a veneer on her and makes her what she was not, Logue gets “Bertie” to be what he has been all along. He helps him find his voice to become George VI. Both stories are strong statements of the power of spoken language to convey identity and authority. One of the most touching scenes sees Albert, now King George VI, travels to Logue’s home to apologize, and so to reconcile, as he needs his help, after Albert cruelly mocks Logue’s failed acting career and humble origins. Ultimately the film is also about the power of (or lack of) intimacy, echoing the theme that is not unfamiliar in films concerning royalty like The Queen. The king’s constricted speech is traced to his constricted upbringing. A left-hander forced to write with his right hand, young Albert was also forced to wear metal braces to correct “knock knees.” He endured stomach trouble as a boy and ridicule from his older brother, even as a grown man. Arguably he was the king’s first and only real “friend,” and the man to whom he spoke his speeches. The end credits inform us that Louge and the King remained friends for the rest of their lives.

21 Responses

  1. I must say, from the coming attractions and commercials, it looks very entertaining, with some marvelous actors.

  2. you haven’t specified if you like the film, but I guess it wouldn’t be bad

    anyway, it will be showing here in mid Feb and I am listening to its OST

  3. The movie sounds amazing though the book seems to be getting mixed reviews.

  4. I rarely get out to the movies, but I will definitely be watching this when it comes out on DVD. It sounds wonderful!

    • Although I highly recommend you to watch it at the theater, especially the scene at the Westminster Abbey, it’s the perfect film for weekend. Get plenty of snacks.

  5. I’ve entered that frame of mind of wanting to see all the movies that have Oscar potential, and this is one of them. Chances are it will be a Netflix viewing though.

  6. I rarely go to the movies – but my daughter had free passes last spring to see this in its rough preview stage. I LOVED it!! I am hoping to find the time to see it in this final cut form some day soon.

  7. I’m dying to see this film — I love Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth so much, and I think the film looks amazing.

  8. This was a terrific film. Not only was the acting superb, which I expected, but the cinematography was so interesting to watch, the framing, lighting, compositions were all stunning! I’m sure Colin Firth will win the Oscar, but I’m still pulling for James Franco for 127 Hours in which he had to carry the entire film on his own and was amazing.

  9. Everyone seems to love this movie. I guess that means I take one of my rare trips to the cinema soon.

  10. I went yesterday and told my friend, who went with me, that I had heard the audiences were applauding the movie at its end – she said “no way – audience’s don’t do that and certainly not here in Spokane. True enough, the audience applauded when the film was over. The acting in this movie is very good – so good you do not see the actors but the characters. When the credits rolled I was surprised to see Derek Jacobi was in it – had no clue. Truly worth seeing.

  11. I am definitely planning to see this one!

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