Monday, February 7, 2011
The King's Speech
Above all, this is a film with two broad themes: overcoming obstacles in one's life, and friendship. The film is based on a true story, about England's King George VI. It starts with a aging and unwell King George V (played rather well by Michael Gambon) and the goings on of The Duke of York (Guy Pearce), heir to the throne who is scandalously infatuated with American soon-to-be-divorcee Wallis Simpson. Upon the death of his father, he becomes King Edward VIII and is basically having one big party after another. His mind is on the love of his life, Wallis and nothing will stand in his way of pursuing the relationship. As the monarch is also head of the Church of England, he is not permitted to marry a divorced woman. Therefore he abdicates the throne, which is immediately thrust on his brother, Prince Albert or "Bertie" (amazingly portrayed by Colin Firth) who suffers from a bad case of the stammers and fear of public speaking.
His wife, Elizabeth (known to the world as the Queen Mum in later years) offers support, love and encouragement to help her husband conquer his fears (Helena Bonham Carter offers up an inspirational performance here). She introduces her husband to a speech therapist Lionel Logue, a rather unorthodox therapist who engages in a series of amusing and insightful sessions to cure the future and then newly crowned King of England.
Despite being two completely different men, with very different backgrounds in every manner, they unknowingly forge a friendship that lasts through their lives. At stake is an ever-rising threat from Adolf Hitler who eventually declares war on England. The story builds to the King's coronation and then to his defining moment, The King's Speech to his nation where he informs them the nation has been drawn into war with Germany. The King learns about himself, his life and about friendship.
The story is quite inspiring and very entertaining. It has genuinely funny moments and despite having seen the film here among a theatre of Americans, it felt very much like the entire audience connected with the King. As a matter of fact, when the film ended the audience applauded, which took me by surprise.
If you are looking for a feel good film with a dash of history, I highly recommend The King's Speech. It's worth the two hours of your time.
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