Title: The King’s Speech (2010)
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce
The King’s Speech was the big winner on Oscar night 2011. It won four Academy Awards: Best Actor (Colin Firth) Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler), Best Director (Tom Hooper) and Best Film of the Year. I thought it deserved the awards that it got, because it is a good film, with excellent performances and a well written screenplay. Personally, I was rooting for Darren Aronofsky to win the Oscar for Best Director for Black Swan, but whatever, as it turns out The King’s Speech was the big winner of the night. You know how The Academy loves an inspirational film with characters conquering their fears and achieving their goals. Black Swan was probably too dark a movie for The Academy, who we all know likes their winning films to be happy, shinny and up lifting. The King’s Speech certainly fits those prerequisites.
The King’s Speech is a film that focuses on the pressures and stress that fall upon a political figure. You and I (read: the common man) can’t really grasp what it means to suddenly become such an important political figure for a whole nation, so the movie does a wonderful job of doing it for us. It’s interesting to note that King George VI (played by Colin Firth) became king only when his brother, King Edward VIII (played by Guy Pearce) renounced the thrown. When King Edward VIII inherits the throne, moments after his fathers death, the first thing he does is burst into uncontrollable crying. At first we think he is crying over his fathers death, but it soon becomes clear that he is crying because he doesn’t want all the responsibility that comes with the title. Apparently, all King Edward VIII wanted to do was have a good time through life, partying, falling in love, he didn’t care about being a King, which is why after a short tenor as the King of England, King Edward VIII renounces the thrown and hands it over to his brother King George VI. Problem is, King George VI has a speech impediment, he stammers and the stammering gets worse when he has to addresses the nation. Enter Geoffrey Rush, speech therapist, to help him with his problem.
The most interesting aspect for me about this film was how The King of England has to come down from his royal palace to meet with a common man to help him out of his dilemma. Geoffrey Rush’s character Lionel Logue isn’t a high class aristocrat, nope; he is just a common man who is good at what he does. He doesn’t even have a degree! Yet here he is; the kings’ last hope. The film constantly questions the seat of power; it literally tries to bring the high and mighty King, the ultimate representation of political power, down to a more human level. Lionel Logue constantly tries to humanize The King, begging for him to come off his high horse. I think the movie quite cleverly squeezes these themes in the film, sort of reminding governments, hey, you know, you wouldn’t be up there if it wasn’t for the help of the common man, the poor guy who has a family to feed and does an honest days work. And I really liked that about the film. It’s the king actually listening, spending time, and thanking the commoner for his services. I liked that idea, because it’s something that those in power sometimes forget: that the governed are real people, with real situations, they aren’t just statistics. So kudos to the movie for that.
It also questions the power that a political figure actually has. I mean, just how powerful is a King or a President of a nation? In certain cases, and this holds true for the United States as well, the King or the President is just a symbolic figure, the big honchos making the decisions are really back stage, while the king or president is just there to talk to the people. One scene has the King saying: “If I am King, then where is my power? Can I declare war? Form a government? Levy a tax? No! And yet I am the seat of all authority because the people think that when I speak, I speak for them” There is another scene where Lionel sits in this royal chair where only kings and queens have sat in. The king gets his panties all up in a bunch over this telling Lionel to get off the chair, that he is trivializing everything. Lionel tells the king: “I don’t care how many Royal assholes have sat on this chair, its just a chair.” I liked this aspect of the film because sometimes people tend to deify political figures and forget that they are just humans, with fears and limitations, same as you or I.
I enjoyed the film mainly because it’s a film that begs governments to show a thread of humanity with its ‘loyal subjects’. It bets for governments to treat their subjects, however common they maybe, with the dignity and respect they deserve. Because who knows, maybe one day they might need us for something. It’s a movie that gives value to the common man as an important part of society. I loved the performances; Geoffrey Rush plays such an adorable, goofy and candid character. I love it how he confronts the king, brings him down to a more human level. Colin Firth starts out as a stubborn guy who hates himself and his stammering, a guy who is filled with anger. He slowly, with the help of Lionel, learns to deal with his anger, conquer his speech impediment and finally addresses the nation in the proper way. It’s the reason why the film won four Oscars, it’s an uplifting tale, where a man goes through this whole evolution, and conquers his fears. In the process, he learns a thing or two about humility, sympathy for others and true friendship.
Speaking of conquering ones fears and all that, the screenwriter for The King’s Speech, David Seidler also stammered when he was a child, and King George’s story motivated him to over come it, so the film has a bit of authenticity to it when it comes to the whole psychological process of overcoming a speech impediment. Another Interesting thing about David Seidler is that up to this point he had been working mostly on writing straight to dvd and television films like the David Carradine vehicles Kung Fu Killer (2008) and Son of the Dragon (2006). His only brushes with theatrical releases were his scripts for Tucker a Man and His Dream (1988) and an animated feature film called Quest for Camelot (1998). He’d always wanted to write a film about King George VIII, so he started working on the screenplay which he’d always had in the back of his head. Low and behold, years down the line he ends up winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and the film itself is the big winner of the night! Seidler isn’t exactly a young pup (he’s well into his seventies) yet here he is in his Golden Years, winning an Academy Award. When he received the award he said “My father always told me I’d be a late bloomer!” He gave a great acceptance speech at the Oscars, without a bit of stammering to be heard! Hooray for late bloomers!
Rate: 5 out of 5