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Fantastic Film Featuring Firth Facing Therapist
The King's Speech (DVD)
Member Name: stevek181
The King's Speech (DVD)
Advantages: Excellent acting and script, accurate historically
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Anyone with a fear of public speaking will understand the horror of being forced to stand up in a room full of people to give a presentation, or even just say a few words.
For someone with a stammer, it must be imaginably difficult just to say a few words one-to-one with a stranger.
Imagine then, being forced to give a speech to a quarter of the world's population. And not just any speech either, a speech designed to rouse and inspire, to show an empire that they have a strong leader who can lead them through any crisis. And imagine doing that with an uncontrollable stutter, with every tongue-tied noise coming from your lips being broadcast not only to the rest of Britain, not only to the British Empire, but also to enemies that will seize on every weakness. As personal struggles go, I would imagine, this rates even above cooking a meal to impress the mother-in-law.
The King's Speech begins with Prince Albert (Colin Firth), nicknamed Bertie, opening the British Empire Exhibition in 1925. A life-long stutterer, he seizes up in front on his audience and his agony and embarrassment are clear for all to see.
Fortunately for the Prince, as the younger brother of heir to the throne Edward (Guy Pearce), there is little chance he will ever become King. After all, with the introduction of radios, it has now become vital for heads of state to be everything Bertie is not when speaking; articulate, firm and decisive. With the looming war against Germany, it is important, now more than ever, that these qualities are expressed to the public. George V (Michael Gambon) may consider Bertie superior to Edward in most respects, but is painfully aware that Bertie's stutter is a limitation too far.
However, all does not go according to plan. When Edward renounces the throne to marry Simpson, the woman he loves, Bertie is thrust into the spot-light as the new King George VI. With the threat of Hitler on the horizon, King George VI faces an equally challenging nemesis; a little red light on a microphone informing him that his inadequacies are being broadcast to a demanding and unsympathetic world.
In desperation, his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), turns to an unusual source of help in the form of failed actor Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian with a reputation for helping sufferers of speech defects using some very unorthodox methods. King George VI will shortly have to give one of the most important speeches in British history; will he be able to embrace Logue's unusual and over-familiar approach in order to overcome his own demons that lay at the heart of his difficulties?
The King's Speech is a master class in acting with a top rate cast. Firth is as close to perfection as is possible. His angst when facing the microphone, his awkwardness when dealing with his therapist and his frustration at his own limitations is etched onto his face. His struggles literally make the audience cringe in sympathy. The imitation of his real-life counterpart is wonderful, but it is a performance elevated well above mimicry.
Helena Bonham Carter demonstrates her versatility as an actress with a strong yet sympathetic portrayal of the woman who would become the beloved queen-mother, as is Timothy Spall who plays a wonderful Churchill in a terrific performance that is really little more than a cameo.
Rush as the speech therapist is also outstanding, his inward discomfort at treating such an important patient masked by his belligerent exterior. Quickly realising that the speech impediment is a product of his difficult past, Logue's solution is to get the King to open up to him. On this basis, an unlikely friendship is made utterly believable by two superb actors who show the mutual respect between these two very different characters.
There are wonderful performances everywhere however. Of particular note is Timothy Spall who is superb as Churchill in a performance that is little more than a cameo.
The King's Speech on many occasions lacks the grandiosity of other period dramas, but the tight, claustrophobic nature is deliberately and cleverly done by the film-maker; long corridors represent Bertie's constricting throat. The cramped environment in which he has to make his final speech is cramped, panic-inducing and terrifying. The audience can't help but hold their combined breathes.
This isn't a nostalgic tribute to the British monarchy, looking back at a time when Kings were Kings and commoners knew their place. Nor is it an attack on the ridiculousness of the institution. It actually walks a clever tightrope between the two; an affectionate yet wry look at all the pomp and tradition through the eyes of a cynical Australian and the man who would be King. But doesn't really want to be.
This is not the type of film or subject matter that I would normally be interested in but I found it inspirational, humorous and at times nerve-wracking. Bertie's battle with himself and the sheer force of his will-power are undeniably admirable and make the climax all the more memorable.
Release Date: 7 Jan 2011
Length: 118 mins
Awards: Four Oscar wins: Achievement in Directing, Motion Picture of the Year, Best Lead Actor and Best Writing.
Another 8 Nominations.
What They Said: "Proves there's fizzing life in old-school British period dramas" The Guardian
"A very entertaining, heartfelt and surprisingly funny crowd-pleaser with a glint of Oscar gold in its eye." Timeout
Ratings: 8.3/10 IMDB
Family Ratings: Rated 12A for some very strong swearing, which is virtually all in one scene as is used as part of the speech-therapy context
Price: Available for just under £10 on Amazon
Summary: As someone who this film didn't really appeal to initially, this comes highly recommended. More than just a period drama, this in an intense, character-driven story that, whilst staying broadly historically accurate, tells the tale of friendship and the will to succeed against the odds.
Summary: Royally Entertaining