The King’s Speech is the true life story of the incredible and unlikely friendship between a reluctant monarch at pains with his life long affliction and the defiant and maverick therapist who helps him overcome it. Beautifully shot and scored it’s a magnificent example of modern British cinema with a superlative cast destined to become a Sunday afternoon classic.
In much the same way we watched the Sopranos for an insight into the working mind of a conflicted mobster, we are instantly drawn here to peer inside the closed world of royal life in The King’s Speech.. To me the story is fantastic. I mean what are the chances a future monarch would ever engage with a ‘commoner’ with no credentials to discuss personal matters let alone form a life long friendship? It’s this fascination that the film exploits so well, the very human curiosity to see how an institution, like the royal family, handles situations differently from the rest of us. Their lack of compassion, the strict adherence to rules, their mistrust of outsiders, it’s not that dissimilar from the mob. What makes The King’s Speech even more watchable is the heavy weight cast that is assembled. They are all exceptional.
Studies have shown that the number one fear people have is public speaking, death came in at number two. To stand in front of people and deliver a speech with conviction takes some balls. Imagine trying to do it with a speech impediment. More so at a time when radio broadcasting was the latest thing becoming the premier medium of all communication between the state and the people. This notion, depicting its immediacy and impact was used to brilliant effect in the opening sequences of the film, when a paralysed Colin Firth takes to the microphone stammering his lines. His broken utterances left echoing for an entire commonwealth to listen with polite embarrassment. No wonder death came in at number two.
As an Australian living in England I felt a small sense of pride in Geoffery Rush’s performance as the unconventional therapist. His candor and unassuming nature won me over immediately as he delivered his opening lines “I’m the loo..” before stepping out to meet the future Queen of England. Maybe it was a reference to Australians being at the arse end of the world? I dont know. What I do know is that Rush and Firth go on to make some incredibly powerful scenes out of very awkward situations seem so easy. Another case in point is Colin Firth delivering expletives without any hesitation, “Shit shit bugger bugger balls … ” Asking a royal to swear as part of your therapy could never have been simple except of course if your an Australian. Priceless stuff.
For those wanting to go further in the exploration of this magnificient film, the DVD edition contains some great footage and sound reels of King George VI and a short documentary on the making of the film. It’s also coupled with an interview with the grandson of Lionel Logue adding further insight into the man in the most unlikely of friendships.
A thoroughly enjoyable second viewing.
The King’s Speech is out on DVD 9th May 2011.
DIRECTOR: TOM HOOPER
STARS: COLIN FIRTH, GEOFFREY RUSH, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, GUY PEARCE, MICHAEL GAMBON, DEREK JACOBI, TIMOTHY SPALL
RUNTIME: 118 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: UK, AUSTRALIA, USA