The King’s Speech

The Nominations:

  • Actor in a Leading Role
  • Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Art Direction
  • Best Picture
  • Cinematography
  • Costume Design
  • Directing
  • Film Editing
  • Music (Original Score)
  • Sound Mixing
  • Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Black-and-White:

A review by LadyOscar23

The King’s Speech is a nice, quiet, pleasant movie with a dash of humor, a bit of history, and Colin Firth.  Fortunately, this makes it an entertaining way to spend an evening.  Unfortunately, these elements are all that is required for it to qualify as one of the best movies of the year.  We have now reached a state where if a movie actually has a real script and some kind of point it is considered a Quality Art Film.

IMDB plot summary:

Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George (‘Bertie’) reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.

I give The King’s Speech credit for dealing with serious issues both historical and personal, and for delivering its messages with subtlety.  For a movie that is mainly talk, it generally did a good job avoiding expository speeches, instead letting the actors, almost all of whom do an excellent job, convey the situation via their interactions and demeanor.  The writers obviously had an advantage in that the events of the film are historical, but despite my woeful ignorance of British royal history things quickly made sense.  We realize that older brother Edward is dashingly useless, that younger brother Bertie has an inferiority complex and dreads having to be king, and that his wife (Helena Bonham Carter, managing not to annoy me for once) is completely on his side while recognizing his limitations.

The movie’s strength is in the development of Colin Firth’s character through his interactions with his unconventional and uncredentialled speech therapist, Lionel Logue.  Not only does the future king find his self-confidence after a childhood of being slighted by his father (Michael Gambon, as a far cry from Albus Dumbledore) and mocked by his brother, he also for the first time learns something of what the life of a normal human being is like.  As an American, I find it fascinating to think that even in modern times the British royal family lives in a bubble surrounded by so much obligatory ceremony.  No “commoner”, regardless of how rich, famous, or powerful they are, can threaten to accuse someone of treason (as the future King does Logue in one scene) for using too familiar an address.  One can see that “Bertie’s” relationship with Logue will help him be a better king to his people.

Where I feel the film is lacking is in being a little too restrained and light when dealing with real, serious, historical facts.  The transfer of the throne happens with remarkably little conflict.  There are also only hints of the struggle among the various parties as to whether to take a hard line with the Nazis or appease them, and according to various articles I’ve read (Christopher Hitchens in Slate, for example http://www.slate.com/id/2282194 ) a number of facts were glossed over or changed to make the characters more sympathetic.  I completely agree with him that Peter Pettigrew’s (er…Timothy Spall’s) portrayal of Churchill was laughable and trivializing; I think at that point they would have been better served to leave him out of the story entirely, as he plays no essential role in the plot.

How will the film fare Oscar-wise?  I would have no argument with wins for some of the actors, but I don’t think it should get Best Picture.  However, since the movie is actually enjoyable and does not appear to have been assembled by drunken computer-wielding monkeys or a committee of misogynistic sitcom writers (or some combination thereof) I won’t be shaking my fist at the screen if it wins.

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One Response to The King’s Speech

  1. […] review of “The King’s Speech” (thank you LadyOscar23!). 12 nominations for the film – should be an interesting […]

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