Up there with my favourite films of all time, I cannot recommend the film ‘The King’s Speech’ enough. I found it an extremely interesting look into the recent past of Great Britain as well as being still relevant today. It’s a very emotional and moving story about the struggle of one man to, not only talk in public as the main plot would suggest, but also to believe in himself and his own ideas.
Always living in the shadow of his older brother David, Bertie (played by Colin Firth in the film), the younger of two princes cannot talk in public and embarrasses the royal family every time he is asked to make a speech. He thinks he has tried everything until his wife (played by Helena Bonham Carter) finds a new speech therapist to help, who has some interesting and creative new methods. Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush) struggles to get along with Bertie at first, since he refuses to make exceptions because of his royal status. Eventually however, Bertie comes to not only see Logue as a skilled therapist, but also as a close friend. Bertie’s journey to find his voice is a heartfelt one, but perhaps what is most moving is his journey to trusting Logue and forgetting their differences.
The performances of Bonham Carter, Rush and Firth are all extraordinary in this film and I think it’s success is most due to its excellent acting, directing and writing, since in a simple drama like this one, there are no flashy special effects or action scenes for these things to hide behind, and it really puts to the test the skill of these core members of the film team. The film was nominated for several BAFTAs and Academy Awards in recognition of its achievement and won the academy award for Best Picture. The soundtrack to the film by Alexandre Desplat is also nice, being made up of calm classical style music, but also featuring tunes like the main theme which are quite distinctive.
Though some historians might find fault, I was actually struck by the historical accuracy of the film and particularly liked a scene with George V, Bertie’s father who at the beginning of the film is King himself, where he gives his own Christmas speech on the radio before having his picture taken, since the scene was based on a real picture that was taken of George V giving his speech. The scenes set in the streets of London are also particularly well made given the budget, and these scenes in period dramas can be particularly difficult, since they require a great deal of work to make them look realistically like the time period.
Audiences of this film should go away from it with the message that two people from completely different walks of life can still learn to understand each other, and can still become friends. I think, in a time when opinions of the monarchy in the UK are not always favourable, this film really promotes the idea that we are all just people, and no matter where or what background we come from, we are all actually very similar.
This film is great for so many reasons, from its emotionality to its humour but for me I just love that it has such a professional and well-made feel about it. There’s an air of grandness and scale to it that you don’t find with many films, as well as a simplicity and cosiness to it that stems I think from looking at both extremes of the class system. Whatever it is, I just knew when finishing this film that I’d seen a masterpiece.
Image from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/posters/kings_speech_ver5.jpg