The King's Speech
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After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England. With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond. With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle. Based on the true story of King George VI, "The King's Speech" follows the Royal Monarch's quest to find his voice.
Candidates for president and prime minister choose to run, but kings rarely have a choice. Such was the case for Prince Albert, known by family members as Bertie (Colin Firth), whose stutter made public speaking difficult. Upon the death of his father, George V (Michael Gambon, making the most of a small part), the crown went to Bertie's brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), who abdicated to marry divorcée Wallis Simpson. All the while, Bertie and his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter, excellent), try to find a solution to his stammer. Nothing works until they meet Australian émigré Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a failed actor operating out of a threadbare office. He believes Bertie's problem stems from emotional rather than physiological issues, leading to a clash of wills that allows the Oscar®-winning Rush (Shine) and the Oscar-nominated Firth (A Single Man) to do some of their best work (in a neat bit of casting, Firth's Pride and Prejudice costar, Jennifer Ehle, plays Logue's wife). All their efforts, from the tense to the comic--Bertie doesn't stutter when he swears--lead to the speech King George VI must make to the British public on the eve of World War II. At a time when his country needs him the most, he can't afford to fail. As Stephen Frears did in The Queen, Tom Hooper (HBO's Elizabeth I) lends vulnerability to a royal figure, showing how isolating that life can be--and how much difference a no-nonsense friend like Logue can make. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Making Of Featurette
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Top Customer Reviews
Set across the years between the First and Second World War, "The King's Speech" concentrates on the rise of King George VI (Firth) and his personal woes, including his infamous stammer and disdain for public speaking. Obviously being royalty, having an ability to engage the public in moving and inspirational speeches tends to be a necessity of the job. In attempting to overcome this disability, he's entrusted in the care of the eccentric and flamboyant speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).
Over the course of the film, the two men of distinctly different social classes come to blows but ultimately forge a friendship which will last a lifetime.
Colin Firth's portrayal of George VI (or simply Bertie to his family and friends) was a fascinating insight into the king's troubled personal life. His tragic inability to speak, both in public and to his family, was also tender and, in a way, heart-warmingly humbling.
While Firth will deservedly get the plaudits for his regal starring role, it was Geoffrey Rush's witty, genuine, off-the-wall performance as Logue which personally blew me away, with immense comic timing and inability to be overwhelmed while in the presence of his most prestigious client.
The supporting cast was littered with enough real quality to make any award body take notice, and make most audiences marvel in delight.
The graceful and articulate Helen Bonham Carter gives a honest and loving performance as the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth.
Michael Gambon is sharp and somewhat intimidating as Bertie's father, King George V. Guy Pearce is arrogantly brilliant as Firth's brother and predecessor, King Edward VIII.
While the excellent Timothy Spall shone once again, in his second portrayal as the great Winston Churchill (his first was in October's god awful stop animation, Jackboots on Whitehall). It was also a pleasure to see the classy Jennifer Ehle - who starred opposite Firth in, perhaps, his most famous role as Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice - as Lionel's wife.
Hooper should also be credited for making a visually engaging period drama, which never once felt tired or dull on the eyes, as a lot of these quintessentially British affairs can so often become.
The film's themes are also an uplifting and enjoyable treat for all; a story of friendship between essentially a prince and a pauper, a man's journey to overcome his own personal adversaries and become the king he was born to be.
Yes we won't lie, this isn't original by any means: these are classic tried and tested formulas that transcends cinema of the ages - but rarely to this level of detail and panache.
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush's performances make "The King's Speech" an enthralling journey which is heart-warming, humorous and genuinely sincere.
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter are at their best here as the three main characters. The interplay between Firth and Rush is especially moving to watch. The two men end up becoming close friends, not just a king and his subject/therapist.
Excellent and highly recommended.
The film opens in 1925 as King George V (Michael Gambon) is beginning to fail, leaving the heir apparent to the throne at the time of his death to be Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), a man more concerned with love with the twice divorced Wallis Simpson (Eve Best) than he is with the Royal Lineage. Once the now senile George V dies, Edward VIII takes the throne but soon abdicates to marry Wallis. This passes the throne to the tender but severely stammering Prince Albert (Colin Firth), a man terrified of facing his beloved countrymen because of his speech defect - a defect that his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) has encouraged him to correct through a series of speech doctors. Elizabeth hears of Australian émigré Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a poor wannabe actor who gained his knowledge for correcting speech defects teaching returning WW I victims in Australia. Prince Albert (Bertie) and Logue meet and begin therapy by Logue's tough rules before Albert takes the throne. Through a series of rigorous exercises and lessons Logue helps the Prince learn to speak, finally accompanying him to the throne as a speech therapist and giving Bertie (now known as King George VI) the courage and strength to rise to the occasion of leading England through WW II.
Though the above is a brief synopsis of the story, the real message of the film deals with the gradual building of a close friendship between Bertie and Logue - or between royalty and commoner. The manner in which Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush create this memorable relationship represents some of the finest acting in cinema history. The very large cast includes such luminaries as Claire Bloom as Queen Mary, Derek Jacobi as Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Jennifer Ehle as Logue's wife, Timothy Spall in a brilliant turn as Winston Churchill, Anthony Andrews as Stanley Baldwin, and Roger Parrott as Neville Chamberlain. Alexandre Desplat provides the original music allow heavy portions of Beethoven's 7th Symphony and Emperor Concerto (with Steven Osborne as piano soloist). This is a perfect film, well deserving to win the Oscars for every category for which it is nominated. Grady Harp, January 11