The King's Speech
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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This is one of the best films of the last 10 years. Colin Firth gives a performance worthy of his Oscar and then some as the speech impaired King George VI. His counterpart, speech therapist Lionel Logue, is brilliantly portrayed by Geoffrey Rush. The two parry and jab, struggle with class differences then bond in the task of getting King George ready for his role as a leader of the British people.
This film is a unique look into the hidden world of British Royalty. The expectations and pressure of being a public figure are thrust upon those who may desperately wish to avoid the limelight. There is no escape. Such is life for all of us. We must, at some time in our lives, face up to challenges we would rather not. How we deal with these challenges determines our personal direction in life. Oscar winning director, Tom Hooper, manages to give us a very intimate film. We can feel the characters' anguish as if that anguish was our own. Helena Bonham Carter rounds out the main cast as the determined wife of the King. I am always impressed with Carter's versatility and skill and she is in full force here with a subtle yet powerful performance as the strength behind the throne.
This film is recommended for those above 13 as there is some vulgar language. Beyond that, I would recommend 'The King's Speech' to all movie fans. It is a viewing experience you will not soon forget and will return to view it again and again. Bravo for the Oscar winning Best Picture of 2010.
The part of the movie not mentioned by the reviews I read: that this is a movie about the traumatized citizenry of the UK, reluctant to go into a second world war against Hitler.
The Brits are reserved. But WW I broke their spirit, left them traumatized and shaken. It was a horrific war.
That’s the stutter of King George as metaphor.
The Brits are now realizing, reluctantly, that indeed they are going to have to go to war again - ready themselves; gird their loins.
That is what the king’s journey to wholeness represents; the country needing to strengthen and restore itself to full confidence and capability in order to face the looming reality of a war that will claim the lives of tens of millions, and lay waste to Europe.
I hadn’t heard anyone discuss the stutter as metaphor.
That the stutter works on different levels - as a personal obstacle and source of shame, as a national shame and sign of dis-ease and war weariness, and as an impossible obstacle that simply must be overcome, makes the movie wonderful.
I especially love the moment when the king sees Hitler on TV, and he says, "I don't know what he's saying, but he's saying it rather well." You realize that this man cannot speak clearly, and he's facing someone whose very words are empowering an empire.
I also love how much the queen supports him with everything, and that she never gives up on him.
Oh, and the friendship between Berty and Lionel was perfect. Tested and trusted.
If you like this story, I very much rec. "Bertie and Elizabeth." Another version, it catches some of this segment of King George's life and then goes on to show some of the life he had during World War II, the maturing of his daughters to adulthood and his eventual demise from lung cancer. This to is wonderfully done with period sets and costumes.