Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The King’s Speech
If you haven’t seen the movie, the basic story is about the speech impairment that King George VI suffered from childhood. It’s based on a true story that has been forgotten over time but was brought to the screen by writer, David Seidler.
Seidler spent years researching this story and finally got permission from the Queen Mother to bring it to the stage and ultimately to the screen, but only after her death. Seidler’s motivation for the screenplay was due to his own speech impairment that he suffered as a child as a result of his grandparents death in a concentration camp during World War II.
Lionel’s methods are unorthodox to say the least. Other therapists have treated the mechanics of speech impairment, but Lionel dives into the psychological disorder which led to Prince Albert’s stuttering. At first, Prince Albert is taken back by Lionel’s casual approach. Prince Albert resists the treatment because Lionel insists on calling Prince Albert “Bertie”, a name that is used only by his wife. This is a serious breach of protocol by a commoner.
Ultimately The King’s Speech is a two man show. It’s much more than a movie about speech impairment. It’s about an unlikely friendship between a future King and a commoner. More importantly, King George VI must find his confidence. Lionel is helping the King to discover his voice, not only literally but also the voice from within to lead the nation. The chemistry between Rush and Firth is electrifying. I was especially amazed at how quick-witted and funny the script was at times.
Under the steady hand of Tom Hopper, the director, The King’s Speech has an abundance of visual style, atmosphere, tone and superior art direction. It’s a visual delight. Considering that the budget was a mere $15 million, this is quite an accomplishment. Most major Hollywood movies spend more on catering.
One of the final scenes of the film where King George VI must address the British Empire after their declaration of war on Germany is especially dramatic. He has not perfected his speech but with the help of Lionel, he manages to give a compelling and heartfelt appeal to his people.
The King’s Speech is worthy of its Academy Awards and the acclaim it has received. If you have not seen it, do yourself a favor and see it. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. A note of caution: The film is rated R for some language.