The King’s Speech

I absolutely adore this film. Normally, when a film’s described as ‘heart-warming’, it makes me want to cringe and mime vomiting, as I was prone to do every time I saw trailers for The Vow or something similar. The King’s Speech may be heart-warming, but chick-flick it is not. It’s really rather lovely though, and fitting for any kind of day or mood. It’s based on the true story of King George VI (father of our dear old Liz) overcoming his stutter with the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue.

It really is a beautiful film, and superbly acted throughout. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter all received several awards (and even more nods), quite rightly so because they were a joy to watch. The soundtrack is lovely and entirely fitting, especially during the scenes of Bertie delivering his war speech (which gets me every time, it’s so stirring and emotional).

Okay, so it’s perhaps not the most historically accurate film in the world. It’s been suggested (and is probably likely) that scenes and characters have been exaggerated for dramatic effect (such as King George V and Edward VII picking on Bertie for his stammering, various political stances, and the role and actions of Churchill played brilliantly by Timothy Spall). It was, however, influenced by the diaries of the real Lionel Logue, which were apparently discovered nine weeks before filming was due to begin, and supposedly contains real snippets of conversation from them. Lionel’s family don’t wholeheartedly agree with the portrayal though, and said that Lionel would never have referred to the King as ‘Bertie’ or swore in his presence. (The main swearing scene is one of my favourites from the film, and was a surprisingly humorous interlude loved by the cinema audience if my memory serves me correctly, and always gets a good giggle from me at any rate). The film also seems to cover a fairly brief period of time, whereas in actuality the events spanned over a decade.

The performance of Helena Bonham-Carter as Queen Elizabeth was apparently very accurate in terms of mannerisms and general characterisation though. The real Queen Mother was aware of David Seidler’s plans to write the story of her husband and requested that he did not do so during her lifetime, so the project was delayed until after her death in 2002. Queen Elizabeth II, however, is rumoured to have found the film to be a touching portrayal of her father (according to Wikipedia), although she obviously isn’t allowed to endorse it (or any other film for that matter) publicly.

The King’s Speech has also been highly praised by speech and language therapists and charities, who were pleased both with the accuracy of the portrayal of a speech impediment and with the awareness of stammering that the film brought. Director Tom Hooper consciously tried to emphasise the frustration, isolation and constriction felt by Bertie through his choice of camera shots and lenses, which is all a bit technical for me really and I must confess I didn’t particularly notice the symbolism of the camera angles, but there’s no doubt that Colin Firth was able to get his feelings of frustration across.

It really is quite a touching film, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are both very endearing characters (without wishing to sound patronising), and it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that they really were good friends, crossing the divides of society and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. But to be honest, even if the depictions were completely inaccurate or a downright lie, I’d still love this film. Really, if you overlook the slightly dubious historical inaccuracies and take out the monarchy aspect, this is still a lovely film about two men becoming friends, learning to help each other, and overcoming their difficulties (I’d say to live happily ever after, only the film ends with the outbreak of World War II, so there were clearly more struggles to be faced). It’s sweet but not bittersweet, funny at times (without being silly), and generally just a nice, poignant all-rounder. I think even the most miserable of people couldn’t fail to take something positive from this film, and, most importantly, I’m sure all members of the family will get a lot of enjoyment from seeing Colin Firth shouting ‘tits’.

See also My Culture Mission or previous Film Review, featuring The Room.


4 thoughts on “The King’s Speech

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