February 7, 2011

The King's Speech

Queen Elizabeth's father, Albert Frederick Arthur George,  was second in line to the throne but the abdication of his older brother David (King Edward VIII), thereafter the Duke of Windsor, saw him ascend the throne as George VI just before WWII.
'Bertie', as he was called by the family had a terrible debilitating stammer that made public speaking impossible.  A nightmare really. The film makes it clear how awful it was for the King.
Learning breath control!
The movie focuses on how the King, with the help of   Lionel George Logue,  overcome his stammer and give one of the most important speeches in Britain's history.
At first the King is loathe to see  yet another therapist but the Queen convinces him it is the best thing to do.
At a first meeting Logue has the King read Hamlet's "To be or not to be" solioquy while earphones blast the opera Marriage of Figaro into His Majesty's ears.
Logue makes a record which the disgusted and thoroughly disheartened King takes with him. He won't listen to it at all at first. He is convinced he stammered all the way through.
But when frustration pushes him to hear it later, it is perfectly and beautifully done spoken.  It does the trick and he is convinced to being work on his stammer. And work is what it will be!

The film was magnificent. Colin Firth's performance was stellar.In fact, every performance was stellar and the cast consisted of some great actors including the great Derek Jacoby of BBC's  I Claudius fame. In that he played the stammering Emperor Claudius of Rome.
That series is usually on YouTube if you wish to see it by the way.
Helena Bonham Carter did a marvelous job but then she always puts forth a good performance. 

The film is based on  historical fact and is deeply personal and utterly absorbing in its human drama.
The film  is funny, heart warming, sad, and deeply inspirational.
It was rated R because of scenes where the King is using profanity over and over to rid himself of the stammer but these scenes had the audience laughing hard. They also give you some insight into the why and wherefore of stammering.
Scenes of  the exchanges and banter between the  King and Logue  were great fun to watch.  You can see their relationship growing over time.

The audience was deeply engrossed in the film right from the start. Many were wiping their eyes in the final scenes. No one was bored , it was obvious.

King Eward VIII
The scenes showing David, then King, show a thoroughly self absorbed,childish man with a slavish attachment to Wallis Warfield Simpson.  He has little sympathy for his brother's affliction and even cruelly mocks him on one occasion. The representation seems true to all I have read on his personality.
With their devotion to Nazim , it can be hard to find sympathy for him and Wallis.

David Seidler,the producer,who himself had a stammer as a child, said “Here was a stutterer who was a king and had to give radio speeches where everyone was listening to every syllable he uttered, and yet did so with passion and intensity”
For Seidler the film took on personal importance.

The film makes clear why King George was so beloved, and so strong for the Empire during some of its darkest days.

The Queen herself gave the film two thumbs up.
I highly recommend it.
My daughter and I enjoyed it thoroughly.


  1. Hi Annie! Thanks for the great review- can't wait to see it. Jeff and I try to see all the nominated films. We made our 1st trip out today leaving the puppy and Kanan in the kitchen and hoping for the best. We saw True Grit- also excellent! When we came home there was just a little blood- lol- but it was because Cooper is losing baby teeth and he'd been chewing on a chew toy. Yes, you are right... Cooper adores Kanan! (((Hugz)))

  2. Hi Annie,
    I see you enjoyed the movie immensely ;) I did read the story it was very interesting indeed. Sorry about you 40 degree weather but at least it is not freezing. I am off to see 33 Variations with Jane Fonda at the Ahmanson Theater with my friend Joe we are taking the subway there. Hugs, Dru

  3. I loved this film too. Such good acting. I hope it wins an academy award. It should in my opinion. I haven't seen Black Swan but I'm not sure I want too. It sounds a little too brutal for me.


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